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​Research assessment​


The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the system used for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions (HEIs). It replaced the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE).


The submission date for REF2014 was 29 November 2013. Research assessment exercises are managed by a REF team based at HEFCE and overseen by the REF Steering Group, consisting of representatives of the four funding bodies.


Edinburgh Napier's submission to the REF2014 was overseen by its REF Planning Group and supported by a REF Project Officer.


It is anticipated, that the next assessment exercise will be REF2021 with a submission census date in November 2020.


REF2021 will be overseen by Professor Jessie Kennedy and support by the Research Policy Officer. All enquiries should be directed to Ceri Bain C.Bain@napier.ac.uk




We had a number of accomplishments as a university in our REF 2014 bid. Fifty-four percent of research we submitted to was judged to be either world-leading or internationally excellent. You can explore our results and compare them to other universities using REF Explorer, an interactive visualisation developed by School of Computing researchers.


Edinburgh Napier submitted to nine Units of Assessment (UoAs). (3) Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy, (7) Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences, (11) Computer Science and Informatics, (13) Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Metallurgy and Materials, (14) Civil and Construction Engineering, (16) Architecture, Built Environment and Planning, (19) Business and Management Studies, (29) English Language and Literature, (36) Communication, Cultural and Media Studies, Library and Information Management.


The submission strategy adopted for REF2014 was influenced by the announcement from the four higher education funding bodies that only 4-star and 3-star outputs would be funded. It was agreed that the University would aim for a higher quality submission with a lower number of research staff than previous research assessments. Staff selected for inclusion in the REF were assessed as likely to achieve a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.5. 99FTE staff were submitted in REF2014 compared with 192FTE in 2008. The proportion of staff selected for inclusion was 18%, which compares to an average of 28% for Post-92 Universities.


In comparison to the Research Assessment Exercise in 2008, the University has increased its proportion of staff submitted to the REF who are rated as world-leading and internationally excellent. 4-star research increased from 2% in 2008 to 9.8% in 2014 and 3-star increased from 19% to 44%. Overall GPA has risen from 1.8 to 2.5. A smaller number of research staff were submitted to the REF, with 192FTE submitted in 2008 and 99FTE (107 headcount) submitted in 2014.


The University rose from 109th to 89th which equates to the 3rd largest increase in terms of GPA in Scotland and the 8th largest increase in the UK.


 Overall GPA for Edinburgh Napier, by submitted Unit of Assessment





In November 2015 the Minister of Universities and Science, Jo Johnson, commissioned an Independent review of the Research Excellence Framework. The recommendations of the review were published in July 2016.


In December 2016, the funding bodies published consultation proposals on how to implement the next REF, building on REF2014 and incorporating the principles identified in Lord Stern’s review.


The University submitted a response to the consultation in March 2017 as well as feeding into a Universities Scotland joint response.


Responses to the REF consultation will inform the funding bodies’ decisions on the implementation of the next REF. The initial decisions from the funding body were announced on 01 September 2017.


The HEFCE REF team are still developing the decisions relating to proposals for eligibility and portability through continued engagement with the sector. A webinar on the developing policy relating to staff and outputs is available here.


For further information on the next REF, please contact Ceri Bain or speak with a Unit of Assessment leader (listed below).


Open Access and the REF


A major change for the next REF is the introduction of Open Access for certain outputs. The Open Access policy states that, to be eligible for submission to the post-2014 REF, authors’ outputs must have been deposited in an institutional or subject repository. Deposited material should be discoverable, and free to read and download, for anyone with an internet connection. The requirement applies only to journal articles and conference proceedings with an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN). It will not apply to monographs, book chapters, other long-form publications, working papers, creative or practice-based research outputs, or data. The policy applies to research outputs accepted for publication after 1 April 2016, but institutions are urged to implement it now.


 Edinburgh Napier's policy on Open Access can be found here: 

Units of Assessment Leaders
Unit of Assessment Leader
3 Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy Vacant
3 Nursing specific and deputy Dr Iain Atherton
7 Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences Dr Karen Diele
11 Computer Science and Informatics Professor Ben Paechter
12 Engineering Dr John McDougall
13 Architecture, Built Environment and Planning Professor Mark Deakin​
17 Business and Management Studies Professor Tom Garavan
18 Law Professor Jill Stavert​
20 Social Work and Social Policy Dr Kiril Sharapov
23 Education Professor Mark Huxham
24 Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism Professor Paul Lynch
​24 ​Sports Science specific and depute ​Professor Gerraint Florida-James
26 Modern Languages and Linguistics Professor Mary Fischer
27 English Language and Literature Professor Linda Dryden
32 Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory Associate Professor Ian Lambert
33 Music, Drama, Dance and Performing Arts, Film & Screen Studies Dr John Hails
34 Communication, Cultural and Media Studies, Library and Information Management Professor Alistair Duff
Special Overseers
Special Overseer Role Leader
Overseer for Employment Research Institute Professor Robert Raeside
Overseer for Engineering Dr John McDougall
Research Themes Leaders
Theme Leader
Wellbeing Theme Professor Brian Williams
Information Society Theme Professor David Benyon
Sustainable Communitites Theme Professor Mark Deakin
Professorial Leaders
Area Leader
Business Engagement Vacant
Research Degrees Professor Mick Rae and Dr Janice McMillan (International)
Impact Professor Sean Smith
Research Development Professor Chris Atton
Research Integrity Professor Paul Barron
Public Engagement Professor Bill Buchanan
Equality Professor Hazel Hall
Research Environment Professor Emma Hart
Early Career Researchers Professor Thanos Karatzias
School Directors of Research
School Director
School of Arts & Creative Industries Professor Linda Dryden
The Business School Dr Jill Stavert​
School of Computing Professor Ben Paechter
School of Engineering & the Built Environment Dr John McDougall
School of Life, Sports & Social Sciences Dr Peter Barlow
School of Nursing, Midwifery & Social Care Professor Thanos Karatzias

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