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.
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.