Welcome to REF Week!

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Introduction to the Research Excellence Framework 2021

This week is REF Week on the BU Research Blog. Each day we will be explaining a different element of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) as a quick reference guide to help you prepare for the forthcoming REF exercise – REF 2021.

What is the REF? 

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions (HEIs). It is conducted jointly by Research England, the Scottish Funding Council, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales and the Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland. In England, the results of the REF will determine the annual quality-related research (QR) grant distributed from UKRI to HEIs.

The REF will assess research excellence through a process of expert review, carried out by expert panels for each of the 34 discipline-based units of assessment (UOAs), under the guidance of four main panels.

The REF will focus on assessing three elements, which together reflect the key characteristics of research excellence (weightings for REF 2021 in brackets):

  • The quality (originality, significance and rigour) of research outputs (60%).
  • The reach and significance of the impact of research beyond academia (25%).
  • The vitality and sustainability of the environment that supports research (15%).

Each of these elements will be assessed against appropriate criteria for excellence, and rated by expert panels on a five-point scale ranging from 4* (excellent, world-leading) to Unclassified.

REF Assessment Period

The REF assessment period is different for the three elements:

  • Outputs – 1 January 2014 until 31 December 2020.
  • Impact – 1 August 2013 to 31 July 2020 (underpinning research must have been produced between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2020).
  • Environment – 1 August 2013 until 31 July 2020.

The REF submission will take place in autumn 2020, with the results published in December 2021.

Check out the posts appearing on the Blog every day this week as part of REF Week!

You can also read BU’s REF webpages here: https://blogs.bournemouth.ac.uk/research/ref/.

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