REF 2021

REF2021 Preparation Updates

The REF machine is starting to ramp up once more in preparation for the next Research Excellence Framework exercise in 2021. We have 2½ years to the submission date and are over two-thirds of the way through the REF period!

Following Lord Stern’s review of the REF, a number of changes have been proposed and were revealed in Autumn 2017 (though Research England (previously HEFCE) are still working out some of the details). A full summary of the decisions is available on request. In the meantime, key changes and details for you to note include:

  • Census date for staff will be 31 July 2020. Submissions will continue to be made by institutions to a number of discipline-based sub-panels (Units of Assessment (UOAs)).
  • Research-intensive HEIs are expected to submit 100% of eligible staff, ie. those who have have ‘significant responsibility for research’. Previously institutions selected those that were submitted.
  • Each member of staff we include has to submit a minimum of one research output. The maximum per person is five. Average number of outputs required per FTE across the UoA is 2.5 (previously 4 outputs were required per FTE). All outputs submitted will be required to be compliant with the REF Open Access policy.
  • A transitional approach will be adopted in terms of output portability, whereby outputs may be submitted by both the HEI employing the staff member on the census date and the originating HEI where the staff member was previously employed when the output was ‘demonstrably generated’.
  • The weighting for Impact has increased from 20% to 25%. UOAs must submit a total of one impact case study, plus one for the first 20 FTE staff submitted, followed by one per fifteen FTE. In short, we need to produce fewer than we did for REF14. 
  • The Environment Template will include specific sections on: Impact, Support for Interdisciplinary research, Collaboration beyond academia, ‘Open Research’ (beyond REF open access requirements), and Equality and Diversity. Quantitative data (not yet defined) to support the narrative will also be required.

Aileen Marshall-Brown, our Senior Impact Facilitator, will also be providing support and guidance for REF impact, working with depts. via a series of workshops to ensure that we develop the strongest impact case studies.

Departments have set up REF panels and have identified their REF Coordinators. We are in the process of identifying the eligible pool of staff so that we can determine how many outputs and case studies will be required per UOA.

The key thing for all researchers to remember is that you must Act on Acceptance to ensure that your journal articles and conference proceedings comply with Open Access requirements – see here for details. If you have any questions, please see our FAQs.

We’ll keep you posted on any developments!

Sam Sneddon (Assistant Registrar (Research)