LONDON—The anticipation is over. Scientists and higher education officials in the United Kingdom are now poring over the findings of an influential evaluation of university research released here today. The periodic and typically controversial report, now called the Research Excellence Framework (REF), highlights overall improvement in research quality across the United Kingdom. The government funding councils that ran the massive review evaluated individual research departments, but didn't rank them or the universities. As usual, though, others quickly crunched the numbers and officials started bragging.
University College London (UCL) was first to trumpet its ranking, claiming the top slot that had in the previous evaluation gone to the Institute of Cancer Research and before that to the University of Cambridge. Cardiff University boasted of its "meteoric rise" in the rankings. Meanwhile, the Russell Group, a consortium of UCL, Cardiff, and 22 other large universities, said the REF’s results justified concentrating limited funds into the best performing institutions. “The volume of world-leading research in Russell Group universities is more than double that in other universities," said Wendy Piatt, the group’s director general in a statement.