Skills, assessment and the Hidden REF

Simon Hettrick

8 February 2024 - Research14, online -  @sjh5000     ORCID: 0000-0002-6809-5195

If we don't recognise the people who are vital to research,

we limit our ability to conduct research

Take... software, for example

Use software

Fundamental to results




Who's writing all this software?







~10,000 RSEs worldwide

Image courtesy Ian Cosden

Greater access to skills


Better research


Recognising all research outputs and every role that makes research possible

  • Training materials and courses
  • Grimpact
  • Citizen science
  • Enabling access to facilities
  • Community building
  • Standards

New categories

The Hidden Role

CC-BY William Murphy 

Data stewards and managers, Librarians, Technicians, Lived Experience Contributors (including patients), Research Software Engineers, PRISMS (Professional Research Investment and Strategy Managers), Professional Services Personnel, Public Engagement Professionals (PEPs), RMAs (Research Managers and Administrators) and Clinical Trials Managers.

120 submissions in total

"I'm passionate about the value of crowdsourcing in giving ordinary people an excuse to get up close to collections"

Dr Mia Ridge, British Library


"We hope that the Hidden REF award will help us get the recognition we need to [continue our support beyond the current funding cycle]"

Andy Nobes, INASP


18 street children and youths provided the research team with weekly narrative accounts of what it was like to grow up on the streets of Ghana, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe

Growing up on the sreets

Photo: Janine Hunter / Growing up on the Streets

It wasn't all good

  • People were nominated for the wrong reasons

  • It's difficult persuading people that they're in

What's changed?

What's next?


Competition: October 2024, 2026 & 2028

Festival: October 2025 & 2027

Updates and news

  1. Ask your line manager about your/your group's role in the next REF

  2. Find out who in your school/faculty/university is dealing with the REF submission and ask them the same

  3. Raise the change to the REF with as many vital-but-unrecognised people as you know

  4. Take part in next year's Hidden REF competition so we can trial how to submit your work

Call to arms 

Thank you!


ORCID: 0000-0002-6809-5195, EPSRC Grant no: EP/S021779/1


 © Simon Hettrick. These slides are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International :

Access these slides:

Skills, assessment and the Hidden REF

By Simon Hettrick

Skills, assessment and the Hidden REF

A talk for the Research14 on the ways in which team research is changing academia, and the ways in which research assessment need to change to catch up.

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