The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the government’s periodic assessment of HE research. It runs approximately every 6/7 years. The next one will take place during 2021, with submissions due at the end of 2020.
REF-related income accounts for approximately a third of the University’s annual research funding. REF performance is also a strong determiner of rankings in university league tables and can impact on funding applications to Research Councils.
REF assesses three components – outputs (60%), impact (25%) and environment (15%)
Outputs consider the corpus of a publications produced by each Unit of Assessment (UoA). UoAs will submit a volume of its highest quality research that is 2.5 x the total FTE of staff submitted to the unit.
Impact is assessed via impact case studies (ICSs), which demonstrate the benefit of research on society and/or the economy, beyond academia. UoAs will submit approximately one ICS per 15 FTE of staff. Guidance for SHU staff on putting together an Impact Case Study for REF2021 is available here.
Environment is assessed via a narrative statement that details the UoA’s research strategy, impact strategy, staffing strategy, researcher development, infrastructure and facilities. Grant income and doctoral completions are key quantitative metrics in this element.