People, culture and environment in REF 2029

The funding bodies are inviting written comments on the assessment of people, culture and environment in REF 2029. This coincides with the launch of a tender for work to develop the indicators to be used in this assessment.

As part of the initial decisions on REF 2029, the funding bodies announced their intention to increase focus on the assessment of the conditions that are an essential feature of research excellence.

To ensure the robustness of this assessment the funding bodies seek to develop a tightly structured statement which draws on outcomes-focused indicators. While the assessment of people, culture and environment indicators is not covered in the formal consultation, informal discussions with the sector have identified the need for clearly defined indicators that can be consistently and fairly applied, and contextualised within institutional strategies and priorities.

The funding bodies are seeking, via the Crown Commercial Framework, to engage a commercial partner to develop and test methodological approaches for assessing research culture and environment in REF 2029. With co-production at its heart, this substantial piece of commissioned work will develop the people, culture and environment questionnaire and indicators in close collaboration with the sector.

The project will develop, test and iterate a set of quantitative and qualitative indicators of research culture, engaging widely with the sector, and providing advice to the panels during the criteria-setting phase of REF 2029. A copy of the procurement specification (pdf) is available for information.

Ahead of the project launch, and to inform its development, the funding bodies will be convening roundtables and open web events through the autumn. In parallel, they are inviting written comments on the challenges and opportunities of their proposed approach.

Respondents are also invited to outline any concerns they may have about this element of REF 2029 and suggest solutions to challenges and concerns identified. Insights from these responses will be used to inform the development of this element of REF 2029.

Responses are invited from any organisation, group or individual with an interest in the conduct, quality, funding or use of research in the UK. Respondents are requested to complete the feedback form (.docx) providing comments in no more than two pages.

Completed documents should be sent to by 5pm on 1 December 2023.