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Looking ahead to the next REF

The results for the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) are due in this week, but work is already well under way to prepare for the next one!

What is the REF?
The REF is a system for assessing the quality and impact of research outputs by UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). The reasoning being that there needs to be an impartial method for evaluating public investment in research. The results will also be used to inform the distribution of future public investment in HEIs. The 2014 REF assessed research outputs produced between 2008 and 2013 (inclusive).

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So what's going to be different?
The rules for the next REF include a specific policy on open access which states that in order to be eligible for submission, articles and conference proceedings are to be deposited in a repository as soon as possible after the acceptance date. The version to be deposited must be the accepted manuscript, which has been peer-reviewed, but not copy-edited. The new policy is led by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and supported by all four UK higher education funding bodies. And, although the policy will come into effect in April 2016; HEFCE strongly urges institutions and researchers to follow the requirements as soon as possible in order to ensure all outputs are eligible for the next REF.

The Open Access team have already started contacting researchers by email in order to advise on the use of PURE to comply with the policy. We have also been going out to Schools directly to deliver presentations on the new HEFCE policy, most recently at the School of Chemistry. So far, we have been delighted with reaction we have received, one researcher even reported a time of 2 minutes 30 seconds for creating a Pure record and depositing his accepted manuscript!

If you want to know more about making your research compliant with the HEFCE Open Access policy please email the Open Access team openaccess@st-andrews.ac.uk. We also have a new website which offers guidance and useful links.

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