The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the UK-wide system for assessing research in higher education institutions. It is conducted jointly by all four UK higher education funding bodies, and is managed on their behalf by the REF Team, based at Research England.
Panels of experts in individual academic subject areas assess institutions’ research submissions under three broad headings:
- Research outputs – the quality of research publications and other forms of research output
- Impact – the benefits delivered to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life
- Research environment – the vitality and sustainability of the research environment, including the contribution to the wider discipline or research base.
Further information about arrangements for the 2021 REF is available on the REF website
Each institution making a submission is required to develop a code of practice on the fair and transparent identification of staff and outputs for submission to the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021).
HEFCW’s arrangements for reviewing these codes of practice are presented below.
|Institution submits code of practice to REF team||By Noon, 7 June|
|HEFCW notifies institutions that code of practice meets REF requirements; or requests resubmission of the code of practice||By 16 August|
|Institution resubmits code of practice to HEFCW||By 20 September|
|HEFCW notifies institutions that code of practice meets REF requirements; or requests a second resubmission of the code of practice||By 8 November|
|Institution resubmits code of practice to HEFCW||By 15 November|
|HEFCW notifies institution whether or not code of practice meets REF requirements||By 29 November|
The UK higher education funding bodies have introduced a requirement for open-access publication in the post-2014 Research Excellence Framework. Further information is available on the Research England website.
The first REF ran in 2014. The outcomes were published in December 2014. Further information is available on the REF website.
Research was previously assessed through the UK-wide Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). The last RAE was undertaken in 2008. The outcomes of the 2008 RAE, and further information about the exercise, are available on the RAE 2008 website. Circular W09/07HE provides an analysis of the outcomes for Wales.