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What is the REF?

  • The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the System for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions 
  • The next REF is planned for 2021.
  • The School Research Office is responsible for collating all information ready for the REF
  • We are currently going through a number of REF Preparedness Exercises

Why is REF important?

The primary purpose of the REF is to produce assessment outcomes for each submission made by institutions:

  • The funding bodies intend to use the assessment outcomes to inform the selective allocation of their research funding to HEIs, with effect from 2015-16.
  • The assessment provides accountability for public investment in research and produces evidence of the benefits of this investment.
  • The assessment outcomes provide benchmarking information and establish reputational yardsticks.


The conduct of the exercise will continue to be governed by the following principles:

  • Equity – the fair and equal assessment of all types of research and forms of research output.
  • Equality – promoting equality and diversity in all aspects of the assessment.
  • Transparency – the clear and open process through which decisions are made and information about the assessment process is shared.

Profile weightings will be:

  • Outputs 60%
  • Impact 25%
  • Environment 15%


  • Every member of staff will need to submit a minimum of 1 output. 
  • The total number of outputs required will be determined by FTE rather than headcount


  • The assessment period for research income and impacts will roll over from the end of the period in the last exercise, running from 1 August 2013 until 31 July 2020. 
  • The assessment period for outputs will also continue, running from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2020.


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