Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021

Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021

Research community update

Read the statement from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research.

Our COVID-19 response

REF 2021: How and what?

REF consists of the assessment of 34 subject-based units of assessment (UoAs) under 4 main panels. These represent the broad range of research carried out across the sector. Each institution will make a submission to each of the UoAs which match their subject areas – and in that way the subject areas are able to be assessed against their peer groupings in other institutions.

Each submission is composed of an assessment of: outputs (e.g. publications, practice based outputs such as performances etc.), their impact beyond academia (e.g. policy changes, industrial changes), and the environment that supports research in that area.

Each submission is peer reviewed by expert panels made up of senior academics, international experts, and also end users of research, with their scores of all the elements combining to give an overall score for the individual UoAs.

The elements of each UoA submission are weighted as follows:

  • Outputs – 60%
  • Impact – 25%
  • Environment – 15%

The results will be published for each submission as an overall excellence profile reflecting the above weightings, but will also be broken down into the individual elements. It is worth noting that REF at an individual level is an anonymous exercise.

For further information on REF, visit, or email Research Excellence Unit.

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