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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 Research England.

The REF is a process of expert review, carried out by expert panels for each of the 34 subject-based units of assessment (UOAs), under the guidance of four main panels.  

For each submission, three distinct elements are assessed: the quality of outputs (e.g. publications, performances, and exhibitions), their impact beyond academia, and the environment that supports research. 

The University made a submission to the current assessment exercise, REF2021, on 31 March 2021, comprising 13 Units of Assessment.

The results of REF2021 were published on 12 May 2022. Find out more here​.

To learn more about the previous Research Excellence Framework (REF2021) watch the video from the Vice-Principal Research and Innovation, Professor Nick Antonopoulos which provides an overview of the most recent UK Research Assessment exercise, including information about the University’s recent REF2021 results. 



Please note the REF pages will be continually updated as we move into the next REF cycle to provide information on developments and emerging new criteria. ​All enquiries should be directed to the REF Team, REFteam@napier.ac.uk​