If there are certain circumstances that have affected your ability to produce the four outputs stipulated in the REF criteria, you should still be considered for submission to the REF but with a reduced number of outputs. Section 5.2 of the Code of Practice outlines what constitutes clearly defined and complex circumstances as specified in the REF guidance (also, see question 33 below). In all situations where circumstances are disclosed, the BU REF Circumstances Board will make the final decision on the total number of outputs that you will be required to submit. (See also Table 2 in section 3.2.1 of the Code of Practice.)
33. What are the clearly defined and complex circumstances?
As detailed in section 5.2 of the Code of Practice, clearly defined circumstances are:
- Qualifying as an early career researcher;
- Absence from work due to working part-time, secondments or career breaks;
- Qualifying periods of maternity, paternity or adoption leave;
- Other circumstances that apply in UOAs 1-6.
Complex circumstances relate to:
- Ill health or injury;
- Mental health conditions;
- Constraints relating to pregnancy, maternity, paternity, adoption or childcare that fall outside of – or justify the reduction of further outputs in addition to – those outlined in clearly defined circumstances above;
- Other caring responsibilities (such as caring for an elderly or disabled family member);
- Gender reassignment;
- Other circumstances relating to the protected characteristics listed in the REF guidance document, or relating to activities protected by employment legislation.
For more detail, see pars 63-91, Panel Criteria and Working Methods. The Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) also has some useful information about individual circumstances on their website, including some case study examples.
34. I’m in the early stages of my career as a researcher. Can I be submitted to the REF or is it only for more experienced academics?
If you started your career as an independent researcher (for the REF definition of an independent researcher see par. 85, Assessment Framework and Guidance on Submissions), on or after 1 August 2009 and meet the REF definition of Category A or Category C staff (pars 78-83, Assessment Framework and Guidance on Submissions), you can be considered for submission to the REF with a reduced number of outputs as outlined in Table 5 of the Code of Practice. You will need to declare your status as an ‘early career researcher’ on the staff circumstances disclosure form that will be disseminated to all staff in autumn 2012. The BU REF Circumstances Board will consider all applications and will make the final decision as to the reduction in the number of outputs required, based on the REF guidance. (For more details, see par. 72, Panel Criteria and Working Methods.)
35. I work as a part-time academic at BU – can I be included in the REF submission?
As per section 5.2 of the Code of Practice, staff on part-time and/or fixed-term contracts who are in post on the REF census date (31 October 2013) will be considered for inclusion using the same criteria as staff on permanent contracts. Again, you’re likely to be asked to submit a reduced number of outputs as outlined in Table 6 of the Code of Practice. As with the early career researcher example above, you will need to declare your status as a part-time member of staff on the staff circumstances disclosure form that will be disseminated to all staff in autumn 2012. The BU REF Circumstances Board will consider all applications and will make the final decision as to the reduction in the number of outputs required, based on the REF guidance. (For more details, see pars 73-74, Panel Criteria and Working Methods.)
36. I’ve taken a period of maternity/paternity/adoption leave during the REF assessment period. Can my outputs still be included?
As described in section 5.2 of the Code of Practice, periods of maternity, paternity or adoption leave taken during the assessment period are classified as clearly defined circumstances and would therefore mean that you can still be considered for submission to the REF but with a reduced number of outputs. According to the REF requirements, you would be permitted to reduce the number of outputs submitted by one for each discrete period of leave (for details, see pars 75-81, Panel Criteria and Working Methods). As with the part-time example above, you will need to declare any period of leave on the staff circumstances disclosure form that will be disseminated to all staff in autumn 2012. The BU REF Circumstances Board will consider all applications and will make the final decision as to the reduction in the number of outputs required, based on the REF guidance.
37. I have experienced some of the defined/complex circumstances described in the REF documentation but have managed to produce four outputs. Can I still submit all four outputs and will I need to declare my circumstances?
Institutions are allowed to list a maximum of four outputs against any researcher, irrespective of their circumstances or the length of time they have had to conduct research (par. 66, Panel Criteria and Working Methods). You will still go through the same mock exercises and review process as other staff and a decision will be made by the RASG and BU REF Circumstances Board as to the most appropriate course of action for you.
38. I’ve been off work for two months due to ill health. Does this mean I don’t need to submit four outputs?
If you have only been off work for a block of two months in the census period, it is highly unlikely that you will be allowed to submit a reduced number of outputs. Reductions in outputs due to complex circumstances, which include injury, will be decided by the BU REF Circumstances Board based largely on Table 6 in the Code of Practice. In which case, for periods of absence of less than 11.99 months, you will not be entitled to any reduction in the number of outputs you need to submit (pars 88-91, Panel Criteria and Working Methods).
39. I have a particularly heavy teaching load and/or line management duties. Does this give me any special dispensation to submit a reduced number of outputs?
In line with the REF guidance, academic and academic-related duties that may be reasonably expected of the post holder, including teaching and administrative duties, will not be regarded as sufficient reason for the submission of fewer than four outputs.
40. Can I discuss any equality and diversity issues before disclosing any personal circumstances?
Staff are encouraged to discuss any equality and diversity queries with their UOA Leader, or with Dr James Palfreman-Kay, Equality and Diversity Adviser, or Judith Wilson, HR Manager, in the first instance. Any queries will be dealt with in the strictest confidence. (Also, see section 5.2.1 of the Code of Practice.)
41. I haven’t disclosed my personal circumstances to anyone before. Will this information be kept confidential?
Yes. The relevant information will be shared with only the BU staff directly involved in the management of the REF process. Any data collected will be treated and stored confidentially according to the Data Protection Act 1998 and will only be accessibly by two key contacts in HR, the Head of the Research and Knowledge Exchange Office and the Research Development Officer (REF). The BU REF Circumstances Board, who will be making the final decision about any reduction in the number of outputs that an individual will need to submit, will also see all the information but will only disclose the final decision, not the reason for that decision. See section 5.2.1 of the Code of Practice.
All staff involved in making decisions about staff to be submitted or who are included at any stage of the staff eligibility and decision-making process, will receive mandatory REF-focused equality and diversity development. See section 5.1 of the Code of Practice for more detail about the training that the relevant staff will receive.
42. Will I need to provide evidence for my claim for defined/complex circumstances?
Any information about staff circumstances that is to be returned as part of the final REF submission must be based on verifiable evidence, such as a general practitioner’s letter or consultant’s report (section 5.2.2 of the Code of Practice and pars 97-100, Assessment Framework and Guidance on Submissions).
43. How will my data be collected, maintained and verified?
A disclosure form based on the Equality Challenge Unit guidelines will be sent to all academic staff in autumn 2012 and again in summer 2013 for the collation of circumstances information. Figure 1 in section 5.2.1 of the Code of Practice shows how information about staff circumstances will be used and shared. Also, see section 5.2 of the Code of Practice.
44. Why will I need to fill in the staff disclosure form twice, once in autumn 2012 and again in summer 2013?
The disclosure form will be circulated twice to give staff the opportunity to update their circumstances or provide any new information since the initial collection exercise in autumn 2012. It will also allow the capture of data from staff who join the University after autumn 2012. See section 5.2.1 of the Code of Practice.
45. How does BU address the issue of dignity, diversity and equality?
Bournemouth University (BU) has a long-standing commitment to equality and diversity as reflected in its Strategic and Corporate plans and, more recently, through BU Vision and Values: 2018. Further information about BU’s commitment to equality is explained in its Dignity, Diversity and Equality policy. BU has also established a Dignity, Diversity and Equality Steering Group to promote, develop and embed equality matters across all University activity. For more information, email Dr James Palfreman-Kay, Equality and Diversity Adviser.
Link to the BU REF 2014 Code of Practice.