RES issues statement of concern on REF 2028

The Royal Economic Society has today issued a statement setting out its concerns on proposed revisions to the next Research Excellence Framework in 2028. The Society is concerned that the proposed changes may create perverse incentives and be particularly harmful for disciplines like Economics.


RES Chair of Trustee Board Sir Anton Muscatelli said:

The RES/CHUDE response to the REF consultation highlights how important it is for Research England and the UK funding bodies to move very cautiously in suggesting changes from REF2021. In particular, by not linking a staff return to research outputs in each Unit of Assessment, the proposed revisions for REF2028 risk making REF less inclusive. The suggested changes, made with the best of intentions of creating a more inclusive research culture, risk instead exacerbating the market for individuals with large number of research outputs by UK universities.

There are sensible ways of fixing this problem, as the RES/CHUDE response notes, by ensuring that there is a minimum and maximum return from each returned researcher.

Overall, Research England and the funding bodies must be sensitive of the impact of the REF on individual academic disciplines in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, like Economics.


RES President Mary Morgan said:

The proposed REF changes to volume measures have the potential to create distortions in the economics sector of the social science community, which would be counterproductive and work against the explicit aims of the new rules.  It would also be an unfortunate outcome if, as we suggest, they turn out to be particularly detrimental to junior scholars.


Prof Lord Nicholas Stern, IG Patel Professor of Economics and Government at the London School of Economics and a Past President of the Royal Economic Society said:

Robust academic economic research is vital to help us understand and tackle the formidable challenges of climate change, the single most pressing issue in our world. The imperative for ample funding for this research is not a mere scholarly nicety but a compelling necessity.  

Let us recognise that investing in academic economic research through exercises such as the REF is an investment in our shared resilience. It is a commitment to fashion responses to climate change and health risk and disparities that are not only effective and efficient but also economically and environmentally sustainable for our shared future.



Notes to Editors:

This follows a previous RES statement on funding allocations arising from REF 2021 published in January 2023 and available at https://res.org.uk/res-statement-on-funding-allocations-arising-from-ref2021/

The Royal Economic Society is a learned society founded in 1890 whose charitable purpose is to promote the study of economics. We publish two major journals and organize events including an annual conference. We encourage excellence, diversity and inclusion in all activities.