Preparing your REF2021 ICS – Final check

What do we mean by a ‘final’ draft REF2021 Impact Case Study?

Before submitting your final draft REF2021 ICS to the RIS REF Team (, please:

  • Use the correct  REF2021 REF3 Impact Case Study Template.
    To ensure compliance with submission requirements and to best manage version control, please use this MS Word template for final drafting (and not VV-Impact Tracker).
  • Ensure both narrative sections are in as final state as possible
    Highlight any gaps or passages where you are awaiting final data or evidence, and if possible provide the date the content is expected in a comment.

Key dates & eligibility criteria

Please note the following eligibility criteria

  • Impact case studies should only describe specific impacts that have occurred during the assessment period, 1 August 2013 to 31 December 2020
  • The impact must be underpinned by excellent (at least 2* quality) research. 
  • The underpinning research must have been produced at Sheffield Hallam University during the period 1 January 2000 to 31 December 2020

Failure to meet this eligibility criteria means a case study will be scored as unclassified (U).

Formatting text

Completed templates must adhere to the following:

  • Arial font, 11 point (minimum)
  • single line spacing (minimum)
  • 2 cm margins (minimum).

Completed templates may include formatting (bold or underlined text, headings, lists, and so on), tables, images and other non-text content, so long as the guidance on maximum page/word limits and on minimum font size, line spacing and margin widths set out in this annex are adhered to.

Presenting numeric data

When presenting numeric data, submitting units are strongly encouraged to adhere to the guidelines set out in the ‘Guidelines for standardising quantitative indicators of impact within REF case studies’. This will enable more effective analysis of the data in post-assessment evaluations. A simplified version of the guidelines is available here.

Template length & indicative word counts

Case studies are limited to five pages. Indicative guidance on maximum word counts are just that – indicative! Authors have flexibility to exceed these word counts so long as the case study as a whole remains no longer than five pages and the guidance on formatting is adhered to.

This limit excludes the personal details of the corroborating sources listed in Section B5 of the case study template and the ‘required (where applicable)’ fields. These items of information will be collected in a separate form.

Other sources of information

You may find this blog post by Research Impact Expert, Mark Reed and his team on ‘Key Lessons Learned from Top Scoring REF2014 ICS‘ useful.

2019/01 Guidance on Submissions – Part 3 Section 3: Impact, Annex C: Definitions of research and impact for the REF, Annex G: Impact case study template and guidance.

2019/02 Panel Criteria and Working Methods – Part 3 Section 4: Impact Assessment Criteria, Annex A: Examples of impacts and indicators.

Updates from Research England regarding REF2021 Impact are published via the REF2021 FAQs.

If you have any questions about your impact case study, please contact your UOA Coordinator or UOA Impact lead.

If you have any questions about the submission process, please contact RIS via the REF support email address



Return to REF2021 ICS Contents.