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REF 2021 Code of Practice


Each institution making a submission to REF2021 is required to develop, document and apply a Code of Practice on the fair and transparent:

  • identification of staff with significant responsibility for research, as agreed with staff (where a University is not submitting 100% of Category A eligible staff)
  • determination of research independence
  • selection of outputs for submission

Edinburgh Napier Univerity’s Code of Practice has been developed based on the REF 2021 Guidance on Submissions and the guidance outlined in the guidance on codes of practice.


Download Edinburgh Napier's REF2021 Code of Practice


In developing the criteria within the CoP, the University has been committed to open, two-way, meaningful communication with all staff. This has included a programme of institution-wide consultation with staff including:

  • Open campus meetings which were hosted by the Dean of Research and Innovation and REF Policy Officer in March 2019. The presentation slides and FAQs are available to staff.
  • A dedicated REF2021 CoP email address, REFCodeofPractice@napier.ac.uk inviting views from all staff on the developing CoP criteria.

The final version of the CoP takes into account the feedback from the consultation phase.


The CoP was approved by the Research and Innovation Committee in May 2019 on behalf of Academic Board and will be submitted to the joint UK funding councils REF Equality and Diversity panel in June 2019.


Staff Circumstances 

As part of the University's commitment to supporting equality and diversity in REF, measures have been put in place to recognise individual circumstances that may affect research productivity.

The following equality-related circumstances are permitted for reductions: 

  • Qualifying as an ECR
  • Absence from work due to secondments or career breaks outside the HE sector
  • Qualifying periods of family-related leave
  • Circumstances with equivalent effect to absence, that require a judgement about appropriate reduction in outputs, including i. Disability, ii. Ill health, injury or mental health ocnditions. iii. Contraints relating to pregnancy, maternity, paternity, adoption or childcare that fall outside of - or justify the reduction of further outputs in addition to - the allowances set out in Annex L in Guidance on Submissions. iv. Other caring responsibilites 9such as caring for an elderly or disabled family member). v. Gender reassignmenet. vi. Other circumstances relating to the protected characteristics.
All st​aff who have been deemed significantly responsible for research or independent researcher and whose oputputs are eligible for submission to REF2021 will be sent a staff circumstances declaration form.
If your ability to research productively during the assessment period has been contrained due to one or more circumstances, you are requested to complete the declaration form and return to Sandrine Flower​ in HR by Monday 2nd December 2019.
Please note the completion of the form is voluntary, and individuals who do not choose to return it will not be put under any pressure to delcare information if they do not wish to do do. 

Appeals ​Process


ENU has established a REF-specific appeals process. The Appeals process is for members who wish to appeal, after they have received formal written feedback, on the reasons behind REF 2021 submission decisions in accordance with established criteria as outlined in the University’s REF2021 Code of Practice.


Grounds for appeal are expected to fall within one of the following categories:

  • Exclusion on personal protected characteristics based on the REF 2021 Guidance on Submissions and the guidance given by the Joint UK Funding Councils on the Code of Practice, relating to age, disability, gender identity, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy or recently given birth.
  • Failure to take into account fully the impact of work pattern or absence according to the guidance given by the Joint UK Funding Councils on the Code of Practice.
  • Inappropriate application of the criteria of the Code of Practice.
  • Inappropriate application of the criteria as set out in the REF 2021 Guidance on Submissions and Panel Criteria and Working Methods.

The following are NOT grounds for appeal:

  • Disagreement with the approved criteria in the CoP for identification of staff with significant responsibility for research or research independence
  • Validity or standing of the University’s final judgements concerning output quality
  • Allocation of individual’s research outputs to a specific UoA
  • Allocation of research outputs to an individual, on the basis of the minimum one and maximum five output quota, based on the Worktribe automated algorithm

It is hoped that any issues staff might is resolved through informal discussion at local level. Staff are encouraged to speak with their line manager, School Director of Research and Dean, before submitting a formal appeal.


If a solution cannot be sought, staff have the right to appeal directly to the University REF Appeals Panel. The full process and application form is outlined in the REF Appeals Process Document​.