As the world continues to deal with COVID-19, submissions to the Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021) are now being judged by panels of academic and non-academic experts.
Whilst the REF process has made accommodations for COVID – primarily through extensions to deadlines, the opportunity to express significant disruptions to impact case studies, and a pragmatic shift to virtual panel deliberations – the broader implications of COVID for fair assessment remain underexplored. Peer review requires expert debate, the dynamics of which risk being diminished in virtual settings. Impact, already an ‘uncertain object’ becomes more complicated to judge with both cases and judges themselves differentially affected by COVID. These, and other consequences of pandemic, present risks for fair evaluation if left unaddressed.
A new paper by Dr Gemma Derrick (Lancaster University) and Dr Julie Bayley (LILI, University of Lincoln) – The Corona-Eye: Exploring the risks of COVID-19 on fair assessments of impact for REF 2021 – explores these risks and provides recommendations to safeguard the legitimacy of evaluation outcomes. The paper is relevant not only for REF21 assessment, but any evaluation of academic research which either requires a shift to virtual, or must sensitively and fairly accommodate the effects of the pandemic.
The paper is free to access from the Research Evaluation journal website here, and should be cited as:
Gemma E Derrick, Julie Bayley, The Corona-Eye: Exploring the risks of COVID-19 on fair assessments of impact for REF 2021, Research Evaluation, 2021;, rvab033, https://doi.org/10.1093/reseval/rvab033