Frequently Asked Questions

Am I eligible for REF 2021?

To be eligible for REF 2021, staff must

  • Be on a teaching and research, or research-only, contract
  • Have a contract of at least 0.2 FTE
  • Be an independent researcher. The definition of this is ‘an individual who undertakes self-directed research’. Typically grade 6 and 7 research-only staff do not meet this definition because of the level of supervision of their research; though grade 7s can by exception be classified as independent.

Will I be submitted in REF 2021?

All staff with significant responsibility for research (SRfR) will be submitted to REF 2021. Indicators of what constitutes SRfR were determined during the development of the institutional REF Code of Practice.

How many publications will I need to submit?

Units of Assessment (UoAs) will need to submit 2.5 x the FTE of staff with SRfR. A minimum of 1 and maximum of 5 outputs are then allowed from each individual.  These will generally be selected by quality, but they will also need to be representative of the staffing make-up of the UoA.  The output selection process is fully documented in the Code of Practice.

What is the census period and census date?

The census period is 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2020. This is the period where, to be eligible, outputs must have been published and impact must have occurred.

The census date is 31 July 2020. This is purely used for calculating the FTE of the UoAs, and should not be a concern for individuals.

What happens to staff who join or leave the institution during the census period?

Outputs can be submitted by three groups of staff

  • Existing Staff – all outputs from 1/1/14 to 31/12/20
  • Leavers – outputs from 1/1/14 until the date of their departure
  • Starters – all outputs from 1/1/14 to 31/12/20, including those published at a previous institution

Impact is not however portable, so new starters cannot import case studies; while institutions may submit case studies generated by leavers.

How do I contribute to impact?

Most research at SHU has impact – i.e. benefit on society and/or the economy, beyond academia. This will be captured in UoAs’ impact statements.  On top of this, select case studies are submitted of the most ‘impactful’ work.  Each UoA needs roughly one case study per 15 FTE of staff.  Most case studies require long gestation, allowing for research to translate into impact and evidence to be gathered.  To discuss your impact more, please contact your local impact lead or the University’s Impact Managers Jenny Dunn or Alison Honnor.

More information on putting together an Impact Case Study for REF2021 is available here.

I’m undertaking a staff doctorate – what of my work is eligible?

Theses or other items submitted for a doctoral degree may not be submitted. Other published or creative items based on research carried out for a research degree may be submitted.  I.e. outputs deriving from the doctoral research are fine, but not the materials themselves that were/will be submitted for the degree assessment.

What UoA am I in?

It should be possible to align virtually every member of staff with one of the UoAs which the University submits to. The current list of UoAs is given here.  For advice, please contact