Sam Kingman

June 28, 2023, by Rob Ounsworth

REF2028: what we know so far

Professor Sam Kingman’s research update

Decisions on the high-level design of the next Research Excellence Framework (REF) have been published by the UK’s higher education funding bodies.

The next REF will conclude in 2028 and will assess research and impact between 2021 and 2027.

Professor Dame Jessica Corner, Executive Chair at Research England (and who of course who led the university’s REF2021 submission), says:

“This is a once-in-a-generation moment for change as we shift national research assessment away from a focus on individuals to how institutions and disciplines contribute to healthy, dynamic and inclusive research environments, and as we shift from a focus on published research outputs towards a broader view of what constitutes research excellence and how it can be demonstrated.”

UKRI is inviting higher education providers and other stakeholders to share their views on a number of specific policy areas for REF2028 through a short consultation, ending in October 2023.

In a summary of what we know so far about REF2028, Pip Peakman, Director of Research and Innovation at Nottingham, said:

“We are reviewing the outline for REF2028 and welcome the opportunity to consult on its broader and more holistic approach to research assessment, including the proposed ‘People and Culture’ elements, which align with our own commitment to sustaining a dynamic, inclusive research culture where our people can achieve their potential.”

The Research Excellence Framework drives research excellence across the UK, provides accountability for public investment in research, and informs the allocation of around £2bn of block-grant research funding each year. In REF2021, the University of Nottingham was placed seventh in the UK for research power according to analysis by Times Higher Education.

£3m renewed funding from Health Data Research UK

Colleagues led by Philip Quinlan, Director of Health Informatics in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, have secured £3m in renewed funding from Health Data Research UK (HDR UK).

Phil is leading work in Federated Analytics, a new way of analysing multiple datasets in different locations without having to send or exchange (often sensitive) data. This work is attracting significant interest from Australia and Singapore. By establishing new ways of data analysis while adhering to governance boundaries, this work will be instrumental in supporting international research.

Fiona Pearce, a Clinical Associate Professor in the School of Medicine, is meanwhile working with the University of Birmingham to coordinate the programme in the Midlands.

The £70m HDR UK scheme is working to accelerate trustworthy access to health data and improve treatments, deliver better health care and save lives. Whereas some universities have seen reduced budgets from HDR UK compared to its first five years, Nottingham’s funding has almost doubled.

Lister Institute for Preventative Medicine Prize

Anne McLaren Fellow Fiona Whelan (School of Life Sciences) has been awarded the Lister Institute for Preventative Medicine Prize, valued at £250,000, for a project exploring how to reduce mortality from chronic pathogenic lung infections in cystic fibrosis patients. Fiona will identify microbial genes which inhibit these pathogens and can be used as novel therapeutic targets.

Elaine Watts shortlisted for national technician award

Elaine Watts, Cartographic Unit Manager in the School of Geography, has been shortlisted for a Papin Prize, the UK’s only awards dedicated to celebrating technical excellence and innovation in higher education and research, for her making a significant contribution to delivering knowledge exchange and innovation activities on behalf of our university.

The awards will be presented at the biannual Higher Education Technicians Summit, which is sponsored by Midlands Innovation and URKI in partnership with Science Council and Technician Commitment, on 4 July 2023. Many congratulations, Elaine, and good luck!

British Science Festival honour for Angela

Angela Thornton, a PhD candidate at the Horizon Centre for Doctoral Training and member of the Faculty of Engineering’s Human Factors Research Group, is one of just seven researchers in the country invited to deliver a lecture at the internationally renowned British Science Festival, which takes place at the University of Exeter from 7-10 September.

Angela will explore ‘Mind Uploading’, and the challenges emulating from ‘reverse engineering’ the brain and the ethics of personal neural data.

Royal Society of Chemistry recognition

Two Engineering researchers are celebrating national success after receiving awards from the Royal Society of Chemistry in recognition of their research achievements.

Dr Andrea Laybourn, Assistant Professor in Chemical and Environmental Engineering and member of the Advanced Materials Research Group, has been awarded the Barrer Award, a triennial prize that recognises significant work in the field of porous materials.

PhD researcher Tien Thuy Quach has received the Inspirational Member Award 2023 for her dedication to supporting the Particle Characterisation Group in organising the FORGE Conference.

Emerging Space Leaders grant programme

Dr Li Shean Toh of the School of Pharmacy has been named one of the 30 most promising young professionals in the space sector and has been chosen for this year’s Emerging Space Leaders Grant Programme by the International Astronautical Federation. The award will take place at 74th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) 2023 in October in Baku, Azerbaijan.

My very best wishes


Professor Sam Kingman
Interim Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange


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