The KEF is predominantly built from data already collected in the Higher Education Business and Community Interaction survey (HEBCIS), with additional financial and quantitative data provided through Elsevier and Innovate UK. Five of the perspectives are entirely based on this dataset.
Two of the perspectives cannot be properly evaluated in financial and quantitative metrics, so are instead evaluated through narrative statements. These narratives are not evaluated externally, and instead function as self-evaluation exercises.
A further, shorter statement providing institutional context is also provided by each institution.
Participating universities are grouped in clusters of institutions of similar size, focus, and research strength. Each cluster is ascribed an average, and performance is judged against this average within each cluster, rather than against the sector as a whole.
Results are divided into five quintiles, ranging from 1 (very low engagement) to 5 (very high engagement).