The Research Excellence Framework (REF) Guidance on Submissions set out the measures that HEIs were required to put in place to support staff with individual circumstances, recognising that circumstances can have an impact on productivity. This included creating safe and supportive structures for enabling staff to declare voluntarily any relevant circumstances, putting in place processes to adjust expectations of an individual’s contribution to the unit’s output pool (where the individual is entitled to a reduction), and ensuring staff were treated fairly. BU’s REF Code of Practice (CoP) contained established procedures to ensure that individuals were able to voluntarily disclose their individual circumstances so that the institution could take account in preparing the final submission. As a consequence, the institution contacted every REF eligible member of staff to give them a multiple opportunities to make a voluntary disclosure.
The Staff Disclosure Form for Individual Circumstances was available to download here. We encouraged colleagues to submit a form if they believed individual circumstances had affected their ability to undertake research effectively during the period. Staff were reminded that an additional provision to incorporate circumstances related to Covid-19 in the reduction process for removing the minimum of one output requirement had also been added and included within the updated Staff Disclosure Form for Individual Circumstances.
Completion and return of the form was voluntary; individuals were not required to do so if they did not wish to. This form was the only means by which the institution was gathering this information; the institution did not consult any hardcopy or electronic records held by Human Resources, contract start dates, etc. Staff were therefore reminded to complete and return the form if any of the circumstances applied and they were willing to provide the associated information.
The form provided guidance on the purpose for collecting the information, applicable individual circumstances, the steps the institution would take to ensure confidentiality and how to submit the form.
Staff with questions regarding individual circumstances were able to email REFcirc@bournemouth.ac.uk to submit their queries.
Information about BU’s REF preparation can be accessed via the Research Blog and if you have any general enquiries regarding the REF you can email email@example.com. For more information about the REF 2021 nationally please visit http://ref.ac.uk/.
Sally Driver, Human Resources / Chair of the REF Circumstances Board