Internal, open access

Academic staff and the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

This section outlines to staff how, and with whom, the data collected as part of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) is shared, and what data protection and confidentiality principles apply. It constitutes the fair processing notice (FPN), or data collection notice, for academic staff from the University of Reading who are involved in the REF2014.


Staff fair processing notice (FPN) or data collection notice for REF2014

The purpose of the Research Excellence Framework 2014 (REF2014) is to assess the quality of UK research and to inform the selective distribution of public funds for research by the four UK higher education funding bodies. The REF is managed by the REF team, based at the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), on behalf of the four UK higher education funding bodies. Under this arrangement HEFCE has the role of data controller for personal data submitted by us, the University of Reading, to the REF.

If you are a researcher who has been included as part of the University's submission to the REF 2014, we will send some of the information we hold about you to HEFCE for the purpose of the REF2014. The information will not be in coded form and your name and details such as your date of birth, research groups, and contract dates will be provided along with details of your research. If you are submitted with individual circumstances that allow a reduction in the number of outputs submitted, without penalty, some details of your personal circumstances will be provided, as described in the University's REF2014 Disclosure of Individual Circumstances: Data confidentiality and security statement.

You can find further information about what data are being collected on the REF2014 website in the section Assessment framework and guidance on submissions.

This rest of this section explains the following aspects of how HEFCE deals with your information:


Sharing information about you

HEFCE may pass your data, or parts of it, to any of the following organisations that need it to inform the selective distribution of public funds for research and to carry out their statutory functions connected with funding higher education:

  • Department for Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland (DEL)
  • Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW)
  • Scottish Funding Council (SFC).

Some of your data (Unit of Assessment, HESA staff identifier code and date of birth) will also be passed to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) to enable it to verify coded data returned to it as part of the University's HESA Staff Return. Data returned to the REF will be linked to that held on the HESA staff record to allow HEFCE and the organisations listed above to conduct additional analysis into the REF and fulfil their statutory duties under the Equality Act 2010 (England, Wales and Scotland) or the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (Northern Ireland).

HEFCE and the organisations listed above will use the information to analyse and monitor the REF2014. This may result in information being released to other users including academic researchers or consultants (commissioned by the funding bodies), to carry out research or analysis, in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998. Where information not previously published is released to third parties, this will be anonymised where practicable.

HEFCE will require that anyone who has access to your data, held in HEFCE's records, paper or electronic, will respect its confidentiality and will only process it in accordance with instructions issued for the purposes specified by HEFCE.

Parts of your data will be passed to the REF expert panels and the Equalities and Diversity Advisory Panel (whose members are independent of HEFCE) for the purpose of conducting a systematic evaluation of submissions, in accordance with predetermined criteria and methods. Panels will make judgments about the material contained in submissions and will not form quality judgments about individuals. All panel members are bound by confidentiality arrangements.


Publishing information about your part in our submission

The results of the assessment exercise will be published by HEFCE in December 2014. The published results will not be based on individual performance nor identify individuals.

Those parts of submissions that contain factual data and textual information about research activity will also be published by HEFCE and available online. Published information is likely to include your name, any research groups against which you are listed, and textual information including impact case studies in which you may be referenced. Personal and contractual details, including your date of birth and all information about individual staff circumstances will be removed.

HEFCE will redact the names of any staff, listed outputs, impact case studies or textual parts of submissions that should be omitted from the published data where this is likely to cause harm to an individual or organization as permitted by HEFCE's guidance.

HEFCE will also publish a list of the outputs submitted by the University in each unit of assessment (UOA).


Data about personal circumstances

For any staff submitted to the REF with a reduced number of outputs without penalty, the University will need to provide HEFCE with data on your individual circumstances, to show that the criteria have been met for reducing the number of outputs. Please see the REF2014: Panel Criteria document (paragraphs 70-91) and the University's REF2014 Disclosure of Individual Circumstances: Data confidentiality and security statement for more detail about reductions in outputs and what information needs to be submitted.

Submitted data will be kept confidential to the REF team and the REF expert panel members (for clearly defined circumstances) and the REF team, the Equalities and Diversity Advisory Panel, and main panel chairs (for complex circumstances). All these bodies are subject to confidentiality arrangements. The University will anonymise data on complex circumstances provided on the form REF1b.

The REF team will destroy the submitted data about individuals' circumstances on completion of the assessment phase.

As set out above, unless redacted, the information to be published by HEFCE will include a single list of all the outputs submitted by the University, and a separate list of all the staff in each submission. The list of outputs will include standard bibliographic data (including the author name) for each output, but will not be listed by author name.


Accessing your personal data

Under the Data Protection Act 1998 you have the right to see and receive a copy of any personal information that HEFCE holds about you. Further information about the Act and guidance on making a subject access request can be found on the HEFCE web-site in the section making a DPA request to HEFCE. If you have any concerns about your information being used for these purposes, please contact the Information Management and Policy Services (IMPS) Office.


Things to do now

Contact the Planning and Strategy Office

Contact IMPS

Page navigation


Search Form

A-Z lists