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REF 2021: Dianne Berry's open letter on equality and diversity

Dianne Berry

The UK funding bodies have published an open letter from Professor Dianne Berry, the Chair of the Equality & Diversity Panel and Dean of Postgraduate Research Studies at the University of Reading.

The open letter emphasises the importance of shared responsibility for equality and diversity amongst all those involved in the REF and urges Higher Education Institutions to exercise transparency and fairness in representing the excellent work of all staff with significant responsibility for research. The guidance is based on the following principles:

  • Ensure there is recognition of the effect circumstances can have on individual researcher productivity
  • Create the right incentives for supporting staff with circumstances (and not introduce negative incentives around recruitment)
  • Recognise the potential disparity in the available output pool for units in particular contexts, for example, where there are high proportions of staff with circumstances
  • Maintain the integrity of the exercise – both in supporting equality and diversity and ensuring the credibility of the exercise.

The University is committed to promoting equality & diversity; we share the principles set out in Professor Berry’s open letter and will ensure that our REF submission is consistent with these principles.

Professor Dianne Berry said: "The key purpose of the measures set out in the recently published guidance is to ensure that institutions recognise the effect that equality related circumstances can have on staff productivity, and support their staff accordingly.  I have every confidence that through our Code of Practice we will ensure that Reading complies with the guidance, both in word and spirit, and that equality and diversity will be fully embedded in our REF processes."

Professor Parveen Yaqoob said: "Dianne’s open letter has been extremely positively received across the sector, which welcomes the commitment to support and promote equality and diversity in research careers as part of the REF. As UEB Diversity Champion and Chair of the REF Code of Practice, I particularly welcome this letter because it lays the foundation for transparency, accountability, consistency and inclusivity as we prepare to represent the excellent work of our staff not only in our REF submission, but in all aspects of research."

We are currently working on our REF preparations and we will provide colleagues with further information on this in the coming days. As part of these preparations, we are currently developing the Code of Practice that will govern the identification of staff eligible for submission to the REF, and the selection of outputs. This will be done in consultation with colleagues through a number of committees including Senate and the University Board for Research and Innovation (UBRI), and in consultation with UCU.

The Code of Practice, and relevant related information, will be published on the University’s REF 2021 webpage. For more information, please contact

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