Reflections on the REF webinar: Tackling the administrative burden

Reflections on the REF webinar: Tackling the administrative burden 2

Tuesday 11 October 2022, 2pm BST

Preparing for the REF is a mammoth task, with over 76,000 staff from 157 institutions submitted (an increase of over 45%), and over 185,000 research outputs assessed during the latest round. To complicate matters further, the way outputs are structured and submitted can change considerably between rounds, necessitating a complete rethink of processes. According to a 2021 survey paper from RAND Europe, “The most frequently mentioned reason for the negative attitudes to the REF is the excessive burden it created in terms of time, resources, and workflow required to complete the REF exercise for both academics and administrators”.

Now that the REF results are out and the dust has settled, it’s time to reflect on what worked well and what could be improved upon for next time. In this webinar we will speak to representatives from University College London, University of the Arts London and University of Essex on how their teams approached the REF, how technology helped them tackle the exercise, and how many times they cried during the process.


  • Manya Buchan, Symplectic
  • Phineas Wenlock, University of Essex
  • Mark Hibbett, University of the Arts London
  • Adam Cresswell, University College London

Watch here

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Keith Webster, Dean of University Libraries, Carnegie Mellon

I cannot overstate how pleased we have been.
We have to have confidence to work with a partner
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Caleb Smith, Senior Strategy Manager for Research Intelligence & Analytics, University of Michigan

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Associate Dean, Carnegie Mellon University at Qatar

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Ellen Phillips, Open Access Specialist, Boston University

Elements elegantly connected our multi-university system providing a
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Tim Cain, The Ohio Innovation Exchange (OIEx)

The University measures the individual research activity of academic staff. This Measure of Research Activity (MoRA) requires the collection of publication data from faculty. Symplectic Elements supports this beautifully.

Floris van der Leest, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia

[Elements] will help to bring transparency to the richness of thought showcased within non-traditional publications, providing a more holistic representation of faculties’ scholarly work.

Caleb Smith, University of Michigan

Feedback to date has been extremely positive from all levels across the University, with individual academics and colleagues actively promoting the ease of use of the system.

Rachel Baird, Research Policy Analyst, University of Liverpool