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REF 2021: complaints and investigations process

REF 2021

Researchers may be interested in read about two processes relating to the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF) – the Code of practice and the complaints and investigations process.

The REF 2021 Codes of practice (COP) complaints and investigations (C&I) process opened on 1 April 2021. The purpose of the C&I process is to provide assurance to the UK funding bodies that COPs are being applied as set out by institutions participating in REF 2021 and provide assurance of the accuracy of submissions to REF 2021.

This assurance also helps the UK funding bodies to meet their obligations concerning equality, diversity and inclusion. All four UK Funding Bodies (Research England, the Scottish Funding Council, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales and the Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland) are informing institutions within their respective nations of this process in a similar manner.

The funding bodies required that institutions put in place a Code of Practice for REF setting out how HEIs would ensure that they adhered to the principles of transparency, consistency, accountability and inclusivity in the construction of their REF submissions. The University developed and published its COP, which can be found on the REF 2021 webpage. The Code describes the steps we have taken and implemented to ensure we adhered to these principles.  To further ensuring fairness in REF processes, the UK funding bodies made a commitment to putting in place measures to enable individuals to make a formal complaint where they have reasons to believe that their institutions' Code of Practice have not been applied as set out. The relevant section is p. 20 paragraphs 83-85.

The C&I process will sit alongside the REF 2021 audit process. While there are differences between the functions of REF Audit and the C&I process, there are also areas of overlap - REF Audit and the C&I process will correct inaccuracies in submitted data. These functions will be used together judiciously to assure the accuracy of REF 2021 submissions. Further details of the process are available on the REF website.

If you have any questions please contact the REF team

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