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. Information relating to the University’s REF2014 submission is available on the site's menu.
The next assessment exercise will be REF2021 with a submission date in November 2020.
REF2021 will be overseen by Professor Jessie Kennedy and supported 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 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.
At the end of January 2019, the UK higher education funding bodies published the final guidance and criteria for REF 2021.
The Guidance on Submissions details how UK universities should make their submissions to REF 2021 and the Panel Criteria and working methods describes how the REF 2021 panels will assess the research. The documents have been developed by the REF’s expert panels and the four funding bodies following the sector consultation over the Summer 2018.
To accompany the final guidance and criteria for REF2021, the REF steering Group has set out its rationale relating to key decisions on some of the new aspects of the framework.
For further information on REF2021, please contact Elaine Lambie or speak with a Unit of Assessment leader (listed below).
Units of Assessment Leaders
||Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy
||Iain Atherton and Peter Barlow|
||Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences
||Computer Science and Informatics
||Architecture, Built Environment and Planning
||Mark Deakin, John McDougall, Daniel Barreto|
||Business and Management Studies
||Social Work and Social Policy
||Kiril Sharapov |
||Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism
||Sports Science specific and depute
||English Language and Literature
||Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory
||Music, Drama, Dance and Performing Arts, Film & Screen Studies
||Communication, Cultural and Media Studies, Library and Information Management
REF Professorial Leaders
||Professor Sean Smith|
||Professor Emma Hart|
REF Management Group
The REF 2021 Submission will be overseen by the REF Management Group. The areas of coverage/representation on the REF management group includes:
- Dean of Research and Innovation – Chair and responsible for Code of Practice development, REF Submission, Worktribe (Professor Jessie Kennedy)
- Senior Vice Principal – ULT representative, HESA returns (Professor Alistair Sambell)
- Vice Principal, Research and Innovation – ULT representative (Professor Nick Antonopoulos)
- Assistant Principal – Widening Participation (Dr Sandra Cairncross)
- Prof Lead Research Environment (Professor Emma Hart)
- Prof Lead Impact (Professor Sean Smith)
- Head of HR Engagement - HR Matters including HR Connect data, Academic Workload, Union consultation (Campbell Millar)
- One Director of Research and UoA Leader Representative (Professor Ben Paechter)
- One Research and Innovation Committee representative/ Prof lead for Research Development
(Professor Brian Williams)
- One representative from Library and Information Service – Open Access Policy (Malcolm Jones)
- Clerk – Research Policy Officer
The group is responsible for formalising processes and overseeing and approving the Code of Practice and the preparations for final submission.
GDPR - Data Collection
The Data Protection Act 2018 and the GDPR require institutions to inform their staff as to how data about them that are submitted to REF 2021 will be used.
The REF team will collect store and process all information submitted by HEIs in accordance with the Data protection Act 2018 and GDPR. Information will be submitted to the REF via a secure website.
HEIs will only be able to access their own institution’s data, except in the case of joint submissions where HEIs can grant access to other HEIs in the joint submission. Information will be processed for the purposes of conducting and evaluating the REF. Information may be shared with other organisations to facilitate this, and will be shared with panel members (comprising panel chairs, members, assessors, advisers, secretaries and observers) for the purpose of assessing submissions. Panel members are all bound by confidentiality and data security arrangements.
The REF team will extract and pass to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) the following data to enable verification: for each individual submitted as research-active in Category A, their Unit of Assessment, HESA staff identifier code, and date of birth.
The REF Team will use information from HEIs to monitor the diversity of staff selected for the REF. Parts of submissions will also be published on the internet.
These REF Data Collection Statements outline how your personal data will be used for REF2021.
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.