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The quality of research in UK HEIs is measured via the Research Excellence Framework (REF). This process runs every 5-7 years, was last run in 2014 and will run in 2021 with a census date in November 2020. The results of the REF exercise are used to allocate HEFCE block funding (in the form of quality-related funding for research) and are both reputationally and financially important.

Research is assessed on a disciplinary basis with information submitted by Unit of Assessment. In the case of the Social Sciences Division, Units of Assessment currently map closely (though not precisely) to our department structures. Departments are required to submit research outputs, impact case studies and environment templates for assessment by peer review, alongside a wide range of research-related data. The shape of the next exercise is currently under review and the rules are due to be released in January/February 2018.

Thus far, the only known component of the forthcoming exercise requires researchers to make their outputs available for Open Access. The University supports this through Symplectic Elements and the Oxford Research Archive (ORA). Since 1 April 2016, all members of the collegiate University have been required to deposit the Author-Accepted Manuscript (i.e. the typescript, final revised version, or pre-print) of all journal articles and conference papers to ORA – further information on how to Act on Acceptance is available.