Preparing for REF

Completing the submission of research for the RAE2008 revealed many shortcomings in the processes in universities for collating and checking the data needed. In many cases it was also an opportunity for library and repository staff to get involved and form relationships in other parts of the institution also concerned with supporting the research effort. It proved a spur to many of the initiatives to link repositories with other systems described elsewhere in this Guide.

The next research assessment exercise, the Research Excellence Framework (REF), has given rise to a number of pilot exercises, (both connected to HEFCE processes and independently by individual universities) and to JISC-funded projects to assist universities to prepare. Some of these, the MiniREF exercise at the University of Glasgow, the Readiness4REF (R4R) project and its extension MICE are described in more detail below.

MiniREF exercise

During October – December 2010, the University of Glasgow ran a miniREF exercise to gather data on outputs, impacts and esteem data for over 1200 research staff using Enlighten, the university repository running on EPrints software. They used functionality developed as part of the JISC funded IRRA project in the form of an EPrints plug in. This created separate mySQL tables for recording measures of esteem, selecting publications and providing reports. It allowed users to record measures of esteem, select items from the repository and qualify each selected item for RAE return. A detailed description of this exercise is available from the Enlighten repository blog.


R4R was a joint project of King’s College London and the University of Southampton. The aim was to provide a way for institutions to collate the data needed for REF by using an ‘enhanced’ Institutional Repository. In order for the repositories to be able to ingest and disseminate data, they will use a bespoke version of CERIF, the Common European Research Information Format. This version, called CERIF4REF, will encompass the types of data that will be needed for REF submissions, and it will be expressed in XML.

Project developers have now created CERIF plug-ins for three major repository platforms: DSpace, ePrints and Fedora Commons. These will enable repository managers to import data from different systems in a common XML format. It will also allow them to generate CERIF data in a form suitable for submission to REF.

As well as the plug-ins, the project undertook a number of case studies in different types of institution (Goldsmiths College, University of London, Kingston University, University of Reading, University of Leicester, University of the Arts and University of Ulster) to ensure that it would be possible to map current data and practices to the CERIF4REF schema. The results of the studies were positive, with all of the institutions finding the CERIF4REF schema a substantial fit with many of their current requirements.

More details on Readiness4REF and links to the plug-ins are available here.


This MICE (Measuring Impact under CERIF) project created a revised version of CERIF4REF to incorporate impact statements. It created a comprehensive set of indicators which were then mapped to the CERIF standard and the CERIF4REF schema.

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