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REF 2021 - personal circumstances deadline 11 October 2019

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Personal circumstances can impact on a person’s ability to undertake everyday work and life activities in the same manner as others. The effect that personal circumstances can have on the ability of researchers to undertake research productively through the REF period is recognised in the REF 2021 guidance, which provides principles and definitions on how these will be considered during the exercise. Examples of personal circumstances recognised for REF 2021 are, amongst others, periods of maternity/parental leave, being an Early Career Researcher, periods of ill health including mental health, caring responsibilities such as caring for elderly relatives, etc.

The University, through its REF Code of Practice has put in place a process so that colleagues who might have been affected by personal circumstances during the REF period (1st January 2014 to 31 December 2020) can confidentially declare them. Declarations are voluntary, but are important in order to ensure that:

  • The impact of the circumstances on colleagues can be recognised and adjustments to expectations can be made.
  • Although the outputs pool for each UOA must contain at least one output authored by each member of staff, for colleagues who have experienced personal circumstances that have very significantly affected their ability to research productively and prevented them from producing the minimum of 1 eligible output over the assessment period, it is possible to request the removal of this minimum requirement.
  • Declarations are also important to assess their collective impact on a UOA’s research. This might enable the Unit to seek a reduction in the total number of outputs to be returned to the REF.

All REF eligible colleagues have now received information on the Circumstances declaration form and relevant guidance, which can be downloaded from here. We would like to encourage colleagues to submit a completed form if they believe personal circumstances have affected their ability to undertake research effectively during the period. Personal information will be held confidentially. Forms should be submitted to the REF circumstances mailbox no later than 11 October 2019.

A second window for disclosing personal circumstances will open on 20 April 2020. This window will be primarily aimed at capturing any disclosures from staff appointed between October 2019 and July 2020, and from staff whose circumstances have changed.

More information regarding Personal Circumstances, is available through the following:

For more information about the REF 2021 nationally visit For more information about our preparations, please visit the REF 2021 Internal pages.

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