The University of Southampton

Hidden research figures to be celebrated in year-long competition

Published: 14 February 2020
Professor Simon Hettrick

A new national competition sponsored by academics from the University of Southampton is diversifying the recognition of research excellence by celebrating all who contribute to its creation.

Professor Simon Hettrick, Deputy Director of the Software Sustainability Institute, has marked the launch of the hidden REF with an article on Research Professional News, outlining its objective to credit overlooked achievements from the arts to zoology.

The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is a widely viewed assessment of the quality of research in UK universities, however its submissions are often dominated by academic publications.

“The research community’s myopic fixation on publications as the metric of research excellence means that the REF overlooks many skilled people who are essential to the conduct of research but do not get authorship of papers,” Simon says.

“Research is about more than publications. By raising awareness of the full range of different and vital outputs, I hope the hidden REF will lead to greater recognition of the variety of people that make research possible. Ultimately, we’re running this competition because we believe a fairer research environment is a more effective one.”

The competition’s first phase, which runs to July this year, is seeking suggestions for categories of research outputs that are currently unrecognised. The second phase will then receive submissions for newly identified research categories and judge them through expert panels before winners are announced in November.

Simon’s opinion piece, Hidden REF reveals unsung heroes, is available in full from Research Professional News.

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