Evaluation of the research excellence and impact of NERC centres

5 August 2013

An independent evaluation of five of NERC's research centres has provided a robust and objective assessment of the research excellence, impact, and the impact and research environment of each Centre.

The evaluation outcome has provided NERC with substantial evidence of the value delivered through its investments in its research centres and assurance that the science being carried out in its centres has clear benefit to society and the economy.

The Evaluation of NERC Centres 2013 was conducted by two independent panels, who assessed the research excellence and the impact of five NERC centres: BAS, BGS, CEH, NCAS and NOC. This is the first time NERC centres have been evaluated in this way. The evaluation was based on the Research Excellence Framework (REF) - external link methodology, which is being used to assess UK higher education institutions (HEIs).

The outcomes show that the research carried out by centres is mainly excellent and includes some world-leading research. The majority of the research is comparable in quality to that of UK HEIs and at its best is competitive with the very best HEIs.

Centres scored very highly for economic and societal impact; 77% of case studies submitted were scored as having had either outstanding or very considerable impacts in terms of reach and significance. Useful lessons were learned about the difficult process of capturing and communicating impact.

All the centres assessed were judged to provide an environment that is generally conducive to producing research and impact of internationally excellent or world-leading quality in terms of vitality and sustainability. This supports the evidence from a range of previous citation studies and the recent Nature Publishing Index which demonstrate the high international standing of research delivered through NERC centres.

Council is keen to see the exercise repeated at a suitable interval, learning from the experience of this first evaluation.