In communications released over the summer period and in late November, HEFCE have confirmed many important aspects of the requirements for the next Research Excellence Framework, REF 2021.
Outcomes and weightings
- Five-point scale: 4* – Unclassified
- Weightings: Outputs –60%, Impact –25%; Environment –15%
HEFCE are implementing Lord Stern’s recommendations to decouple staff and outputs. The number of outputs submitted will be determined by the FTE of staff submitted in each Unit of Assessment, with the flexibility to allow minimum and maximum number of outputs per staff member
- Minimum 1 and maximum 5 outputs per individual
- Average of 2.5 outputs per FTE
- For REF2021, outputs may be submitted both by the institution employing a researcher on the census date (31 July 2020), and by the institution where the researcher was previously employed when the output was demonstrably generated
- ‘Demonstrably generated’ – when the output was first made publicly available
- Impact remains with institution where research was generated
- Impact must be underpinned by excellent research of minimum 2* quality
- 1 January 2000 -31 December 2020 for underpinning research; 1 August 2013 -31 July 2020 for impacts
- Definitions of impact will be broadened
- Impact on teaching at the submitting institution will be counted
- Case studies continued from examples submitted in 2014 will be eligible
- Minimum 2 case studies per Unit of Assessment
Submission of staff
All staff with significant responsibility for research will be returned to REF 2021.
Starting point of identifying ‘total pool of category A eligible staff’:
- 0.2 full-time equivalent (FTE) or greater
- primary employment function is to undertake either ‘research only’ or ‘teaching and research’
- substantive connection with the submitting institution
- and they must be independent researchers (i.e. not research assistants
In institutions that are confident that all Category A Eligible staff have ‘significant responsibility’, 100% of those staff should be submitted. In institutions where the basic criteria for ‘Category A Eligible’ staff does not accurately identify only those staff with significant responsibility for research, a smaller group of ‘Category A Submitted’ staff can be identified—those staff with ‘significant responsibility for research’.
Significant responsibility for research: ‘those for whom explicit time and resources are made available to engage actively in independent research, and that is an expectation of their job role.’ (REF 2017/04)
The criteria for determining who should be included in this category should be determined by each HEI. The process must be developed collaboratively in consultation with staff, and relate to standard ways of working at the institution. It should be written into a Code of Practice.