• Home
  • Login
  • Welcome to the Staff Intranet

​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).


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. The submission date for REF2014 was 29 November 2013. Information relating to the University’s REF2014 submission is available below.


The next assessment exercise will be in 2021 with a submission date in 2020.


REF2021 will be overseen by Professor Jessie Kennedy and support by the Research Policy Officer. All enquiries should be directed to Elaine Lambie, E.Lambie@napier.ac.uk.




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.


Following extensive consultation with the Sector, the funding bodies have now released their decisions on the next REF relating to staff eligibility, outputs and portability as well as UoA structure, institutional level assessment, impact assessment and collaboration.


A significant decision emerging from the recent REF announcements is that University’s will need to submit all staff with ‘significant responsibility for research’. We will be required to develop a Code of Practice outlining the process for identifying staff with a significant responsibility and the process for ensuring a fair approach to selection of outputs.


The University will be considering the implications of the decisions in more detail and will be engaging in University-wide consultation in due course.


For further information on the next REF, please contact Elaine Lambie 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. Open Access policy states that, to be eligible for submission to the next 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. However, the University is promoting an act on acceptance policy for all outputs and staff are encouraged to ensure that all outputs are deposited to the University Worktribe repository within three months from acceptance.


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


The REF2021 policy on Open Access is available here.

There are a number of exceptions to the various requirements that will be allowed by the policy. These exceptions cover circumstances where deposit was not possible, or where open access to deposited material could not be achieved within the policy requirements. These exceptions will allow institutions to achieve near-total compliance.


Valid exceptions are captured in paragraph 38 of the above policy. If you think one of the exceptions is applicable to your output, please discuss this with the Library in the first instance. In straightforward cases, the library staff will assign and record the appropriate exception. In more complex cases, the decision will be referred to your School Director of Research and/or the Dean of R&I.




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


Units of Assessment Leaders
Unit of Assessment Leader
3 Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy Iain Atherton and Peter Barlow
7 Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences Karen Diele
11 Computer Science and Informatics Ben Paechter
13 Architecture, Built Environment and Planning Mark Deakin, John McDougall, Daniel Barreto
17 Business and Management Studies Tom Garavan
18 Law Jill Stavert​
20 Social Work and Social Policy Kiril Sharapov
24 Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism Paul Lynch
​24 ​Sports Science specific and depute ​Gerraint Florida-James
27 English Language and Literature Linda Dryden
32 Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory Sam Vettese
33 Music, Drama, Dance and Performing Arts, Film & Screen Studies John Hails
34 Communication, Cultural and Media Studies, Library and Information Management Alistair Duff
Special Overseers
Special Overseer Role Leader
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 Dr Calum Neill  and Dr Janice McMillan (International)
Impact Professor Sean Smith
Research Development Professor Brian Williams
Research Integrity Dr Grainne Barkess
Public Engagement Vacant
Equality Vacant
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 Professor Alison McCleery and Dr Geri Mathews-Smith​
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

Useful Links