ANVUR and Research England establish a partnership on research and knowledge transfer assessment

ANVUR and Research England establish a partnership on research and knowledge transfer assessment

7 May 2019

The Italian National Agency for the Evaluation of the University and Research Systems, ANVUR, and the English higher education research and knowledge exchange funding agency, Research England, have initiated a partnership that will support research assessment and the evaluation of knowledge exchange in English and Italian universities.

Senior leaders from the two organisations met in April 2019 to discuss the countries’ approaches to research assessment, third mission activity and socio-economic impact of research in universities.

The aim of the meeting was to learn from each other’s experiences of research assessment and the evaluation of knowledge exchange activities.

Research England was created in 2018 and incorporates the experience of the former Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). HEFCE led on research evaluation in the UK from 1992 to 2018, managing first the Research Assessment Exercise, then the Research Excellence Framework (REF). The REF is now managed by Research England on behalf of the UK higher education funding bodies.

ANVUR has assessed research quality in Italian universities through the Evaluation of the Quality of Research (VQR) process since 2011, and in the most recent exercise included an evaluation of third mission or knowledge exchange activities.

Alongside preparing for the next iteration of the REF in 2021, Research England is now developing a new assessment exercise, called the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF), which will evaluate knowledge exchange activities carried out by English universities.

The KEF and VQR are similar in approach, because both are designed to evaluate how universities use knowledge generated through research and scholarship to bring about impact; the REF, on the other hand, focuses on evaluating the social, and economic impact of research.

The KEF’s objective is a systematic mapping of these activities through the development of a dashboard of standardised indicators related not only to patenting, academic entrepreneurship and third party research funding, but also on local development projects and public and community involvement.

The meeting enabled Research England and ANVUR to learn from one another’s experience of VQR, the REF and the KEF. It also addressed a series of issues related to research evaluation in REF and VQR, such as Open Access, use of bibliometric indicators, and costs.

The meeting in Rome will be followed by a visit by ANVUR representatives to Bristol to expand the discussion to critical factors and chosen solutions in relation to common evaluation issues.

David Sweeney, Executive Chair of Research England commented: “ANVUR is at the leading edge in the international landscape of knowledge transfer assessment and it was very helpful to discuss Italy’s research evaluation.”