I remember being in London for a visit to the British Library during my PhD and being dragged (is that the correct term?) to a (then) RAE meeting by a more senior academic to discuss its future. At that time RAE meant relatively little to me and the meeting was filled with discussion surrounding the worth of books chapters compared to journals.
…and then REF came about.
Suddenly I found myself being surrounded by managers who were very mindful of the ‘research environment’, and being handed advice around my value in the academic marketplace (ECR with a period of maternity!).
Fortunately over time, with a bit of research, and later by developing and submitting a REF submission I learned the in’s and out’s of REF (by this point I hope that you know that REF means Research Excellence Framework – if not well done for persevering without a clue – this might help: http://www.ref.ac.uk).
For any ECR (or other academic) trying to work out what REF means for them – the following is outdated (2011 written for REF2014) but provides a useful introduction:
The following article is (basic but) also useful in terms of dealing with REF and your research:
Whilst, the advice the latter contains (basically plan, plan, plan) is pretty easy to understand (repeat: basically plan, plan, plan), some of the implementation of this might be more difficult – fitting your intentions with that of your institution, not being distracted by other projects, needing to secure a ‘lecturer’ role which might not necessarily allow for much research (perhaps teaching focused) etc. My suggestion to any ECR looking to plan their research against REF would be to unpick some of the potential hinderances to that all important plan, and then plan a way around those hindrances (mitigate the risk) such as developing a supportive structure with peers, developing your confidence to plough through when distractions hit. Also looking at who can support you might be useful, I have found my research network (PhD external, key academics in my research area, my former PhD supervisor) to be great supporters/sounding boards/sponsors.
For those in business and management subjects, the Chartered ABS Academic Journal Guide might be a worthwhile bookmark on your internet browser so as to understand the quality of journals in your subject area (according to CABS):