REF 2029 People, Culture and Environment Indicators project

Sector workshops, May-October 2024 

Expressions of interest are now closed. We hope to let everyone know of the outcome by Friday 17 May.

What are the workshops? 

We are running 14 online workshops in May-October 2024 to co-develop indicators on research culture and environmentThe workshops are divided into three phases, allowing for reflection and iteration with the sector. The approach is informed by the SCOPE Framework for Responsible Research Assessment.

Phase 1: An initial series of four scoping workshops will explore what the sector wants the indicators to do, the aspects of PCE that most effectively support high-quality research and impact, how these aspects might be evidenced, and any potential discriminatory effects.

Phase 2: A series of eight thematic workshops will then probe more deeply into different aspects of PCE and allow participants to collectively test the reliability and robustness of potential indicators and assessment options.

Phase 3: Two final review workshops will consider the full draft list of indicators and draft questionnaire, probing these for unintended consequences, gaming, discriminatory efforts, and comments on the cost and feasibility of data collection. One of these will be open to the sector, the other by invitation only for representatives of the REF PCE pilot exercise institutions.

The workshops will be complemented by a survey on the development of REF PCE indicators, allowing institutions, networks, special interest groups, and individuals to have their say on key questions. The survey will be open from Monday 24 June - Friday 13 September.

See the full timetable of workshops.

Who can participate? 

The workshops are open to anyone with an interest in the REF, research assessment, and research culture in higher education institutions.

This includes, but is not limited to: senior university leaders, research culture specialists, professional services staff (e.g. HR professionals, REF managers), research-related staff (e.g. librarians, technicians, careers advisors), academic and research staff at all career stages, doctoral researchers, knowledge exchange and public engagement specialists, representatives from learned societies and disciplinary bodies, policy professionals, funders, and users of research. 

We will allocate workshop spaces after the closing date (Wednesday 8 May), seeking to ensure we have a balance of roles, institution types, and organisational perspectives in each workshop. To ensure that as many perspectives as possible can be heard, we may need to limit individual participation to one workshop. You are able to express your first and second preferred workshops on the expression of interest form.

What will participation involve? 

Each workshop will last three hours (with breaks), will be held online, and involve up to 40 participants. The workshops will include short presentations on REF PCE and what ‘fair’ indicators look like, as well as group discussions in facilitated breakout rooms. A Mural board (online whiteboard) and Menti online polling will be used to support participation. 

Workshops may be recorded for notetaking purposes and all contributions will be anonymised in subsequent reports.

Who will run the workshops? 

The workshops are part of the REF PCE indicators project commissioned by Research England on behalf of the UK's four higher education funding bodies. The project is co-led by Technopolis UK and Vitae, in partnership with sector organisations and networks that bring a range of perspectives and expertise on different aspects of people, culture and environment.

The workshops will be co-facilitated by Vitae, Technopolis UK, and project partners the Association of Research Managers and Administrators (ARMA), the UK Reproducibility Network (UKRN), the Future Leaders Fellows Development Network (FLFDN), the National Association of Disabled Staff Networks (NADSN), the Black Female Academics Network (BFAN), and the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE). These organisations and networks will be involved in the interpretation of the findings, iteration of indicators, and the development of recommendations.

The Institute for Technical Skills and Strategy (ITSS) and the authors of the Metric Tide Revisited - Stephen Curry, Elizabeth Gadd, and James Wilsdon - will additionally collaborate in relevant workshops.

What will happen after the phase 3?

Summaries of the discussions and issues raised will be analysed and the findings used to further iterate and develop the draft PCE templates and list of indicators. This analysis will be supported by expert insights from our project consultants, Stephen Curry, Elizabeth Gadd, and James Wilsdon.

The revised template and indicators will underpin engagement activities with the PCE pilot panels, the PCE pilot exercise, and a second period of sector engagement.

Further information about the REF PCE pilot exercise can be found on the REF 2029 website. 

Timetable for the workshops

Phase 1: 

1. REF PCE indicators scoping workshop 1, Wednesday 22 May, 1.30-4.30pm

  • This workshop explore the elements of research culture and environment that most effectively support the production of high-quality research and impact, and how the sector wants the indicators to be used (e.g. to assess commitment to PCE, to incentivise behaviour change, to gain traction internally, to reward progress).
  • The workshop will run twice with the same agenda (see workshop 2).

2. REF PCE indicators scoping workshop 2, Thursday 23 May, 9.30-12.30pm

  • This workshop explore the elements of research culture and environment that most effectively support the production of high-quality research and impact, and how the sector wants the indicators to be used (e.g. to assess commitment to PCE, to incentivise behaviour change, to gain traction internally, to reward progress).
  • The workshop has the same agenda as workshop 1.

3. REF PCE indicators scoping workshop 3, Tuesday 11 June, 9.30-12.30pm

  • This workshop will explore options for evaluating different elements of research culture and environment at institutional and disciplinary levels, the availability and quality of evidence within institutions, and context-specific considerations that will need to be taken into account.
  • The workshop will run twice with the same agenda (see workshop 4).

4. REF PCE indicators scoping workshop 4, Thursday 13 June, 9.30-12.30pm

  • This workshop will explore options for evaluating different elements of research culture and environment at institutional and disciplinary levels, the availability and quality of evidence within institutions, and context-specific considerations that will need to be taken into account.
  • The workshop has the same agenda as workshop 3.

Phase 2: 

5. Strategy in REF PCE 1 - research governance, Wednesday 3 July, 1.30-4.30pm

  • This workshop will explore assessment options and test indicators relating to how research is managed and governed at a strategic level.
  • The topics to be discussed will be finalised after the scoping workshops, but may include: research assessment reform, open research strategies, diversity of research and outputs, academic freedom, environmental sustainability, commercialisation, infrastructure and facilities.

6. Strategy in REF PCE 2 - people and talent, Friday 5 July, 9.30-12.30pm

  • This workshop will explore assessment options and test indicators relating to how support for people and talent is fostered at a strategic level.
  • The topics to be discussed will be finalised after the scoping workshops, but may include: research leadership, equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) strategies, health and safety, sabbaticals, mental health and wellbeing, doctoral education, and recognition for research-enabling staff.

7. Integrity and the research process in REF PCE, Friday 6 September, 1.30-4.30pm

  • This workshop will explore assessment options and test indicators relating to research processes and practices at both institutional and disciplinary levels.
  • The topics to be discussed will be finalised after the scoping workshops, but may include: training and initiatives to embed research integrity, ethics and reproducibility, recognition of authorship, open research methods and approaches, and care and respect for participants.

8. Openness and collaboration in REF PCE, Monday 9 September, 1.30-4.30pm

  • This workshop will explore assessment options and test indicators relating the processes and practices that enable collaborative, engaged, and interdisciplinary research environments.
  • The topics to be discussed will be finalised after the scoping workshops, but may include: collaboration and knowledge sharing between higher education institutions, collaboration and co-production with external partners, knowledge exchange mechanisms, impact, open communication, and support for interdisciplinary and team working.

9. Employment and recognition in REF PCE, Tuesday 10 September, 1.30-4.30pm

  • This workshop will explore assessment options and test indicators relating to the employment and progression of staff, including policies and practices that contribute to the broadening of what and who is recognised and valued in research.
  • The topics to be discussed will be finalised after the scoping workshops, but may include: contractual arrangements, fairness and transparency in recruitment and progression, career pathways for research-enabling staff, responsible research assessment practices, and support for inter-sectoral mobility.

10. Professional and career development in REF PCE, Wednesday 11 September, 9.30-12.30pm

  • This workshop will explore assessment options and test indicators relating to the professional and career development of researchers and research-enabling staff.
  • The topics to be discussed will be finalised after the scoping workshops, but may include: career development across all career stages, supervision and line management, appraisals and reviews, time for professional and career development, and support for career diversity.

11. Equality, diversity and inclusion in REF PCE, Thursday 12 September, 9.30-12.30pm

  • This workshop will explore assessment options processes and practices that relate to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in research and research careers.
  • The topics to be discussed will be finalised after the scoping workshops, but may include: enhancing access to and participation in research from underrepresented groups, accessibility, career breaks and disruptions, and the diversity of research teams.

12. Collegiality and belonging in REF PCE, Friday 13 September, 1.30-4.30pm

  • This workshop will explore assessment options processes and practices that foster collegiality and belonging, and enable staff to succeed.
  • The topics to be discussed will be finalised after the scoping workshops, but may include: staff networks, peer mentoring, involvement of staff in decision-making processes, competition, and action on bullying and harassment.

Phase 3: 

13. REF PCE indicators review workshop 1, Thursday 3 October, 9.30-12.30pm

  • This workshop will consider the full draft list of indicators, draft questionnaire, and the emerging recommendations for the REF Steering Group. Participants will work in small groups to refine indicators that remain problematic and probe the full list for unintended consequences, gaming, discriminatory efforts, and the cost and feasibility of data collection.

14. REF PCE indicators review workshop 2 (invitation only - for PCE pilot institutions), Friday 4 October, 9.30-12.30 pm

  • This workshop, for invited representatives from PCE pilot institutions, will run with a similar agenda to REF PCE indicators review workshop 1. It will consider the full draft list of indicators, draft questionnaire, and the emerging recommendations for the REF Steering Group.

Expressions of interest are now closed. We hope to let everyone know of the outcome by Friday 17 May.

If you have any enquiries, the project team can be reached via .