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Update on Research Excellence Framework 2021

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Dear Colleagues

With the publication of the full guidance for the Research Excellence Framework (REF), we are moving into the next stage of our preparations for our REF 2021 submission. The purpose of this email is to provide you with an update on our ongoing and future preparations, and to point you to additional information on the REF.

Following recommendations proposed by the Stern Review, the REF 2021 is a more explicitly collective exercise than previous research assessment exercises, as it aims to assess the quality and impact of research submitted by Units of Assessment rather than of individuals. Developing the REF submission – through the outputs and impact case studies we submit, and through the supporting data and documentation – is a significant collective effort by academic and professional colleagues, not just in the final run-up to the REF, but throughout the assessment period.

The REF process is led and coordinated by the REF Planning Group, which meets monthly and is chaired by Dominik Zaum. The Group has appointed 22 Unit of Assessment (UoA) leads, who have been preparing submissions in collaboration with colleagues in research divisions, and supported by colleagues in the Research Intelligence Unit, the Library and Research and Enterprise services, most notably the Impact Team. In particular, this involves the collection, validation and evaluation of a wealth of relevant data that feeds into the REF submission. The regular ROSS snapshots and the Building Outstanding Impact Programme (BOISP) underpin the outputs and impact case studies from which the REF Planning Group will draw its submission and will provide important data for the preparation of environment statements. All UoAs have identified risks, which will be prioritised for action over the coming 18 months.

We have established a Code of Practice Working Group, chaired by Parveen Yaqoob, to develop the University’s Code of Practice for REF2021. It will set out the internal processes we have established to ensure a transparent, consistent, accountable and inclusive submission, reflecting our commitment to equality and diversity. In particular, it will guide the identification of staff with significant responsibility for research, it will define the criteria for identification of independent researchers and it will outline the principles for selection of outputs. Staff groups will be consulted on the Code of Practice through UoA leads, Senate, the University Board for Research and Innovation, the Staffing Committee, the Equality and Diversity Board and UCU prior to its submission in June 2019.  

Detailed information on our preparations is available on REF 2021 pages and our FAQs. These pages are password protected and contain information for University colleagues only. The pages will be updated on a regular basis, as further information from the Funding Bodies becomes available, and as our plans and activities progress. You can access further information on the REF 2021, guidance and FAQs from the funding bodies’ main REF website.

A successful REF submission is a key priority for all of us. Its outcomes inform allocation of research funding by the UK funding bodies, and, importantly, provide information to establish reputational yardsticks used in a variety of ways, including rankings and league tables. Outcomes of the REF will have an impact on our reputation beyond research. Positive impacts will contribute to our ability to recruit undergraduate and postgraduate students, support our ambitions to grow academic and non-academic partnerships in teaching and research and contribute to the enhancement of the student experience and opportunities available to all our staff.

A successful submission will undoubtedly be the result of a collective effort from colleagues across the University at a time when we have a number of demanding and competing priorities. We are confident that, with your support, we can make a success of all of these.

With best wishes.

Dominik and Parveen

Pro-Vice-Chancellors (Research & Innovation)

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