Compiling the REF Readiness Exercise submission

Posted in: Team updates

An update from the Faculty REF Team on how the Faculty’s submission for the University’s second REF Readiness Exercise was prepared.

What is the REF Readiness Exercise?

The University’s second REF Readiness Exercise (RRE) supports faculties in understanding how well prepared they are for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 and identifies where efforts should be focused to improve submissions.

The submission has three elements: outputs (publications), impact and environment. For the purposes of the RRE only, all departments in the Faculty are submitted under one Unit of Assessment (UoA), General Engineering.

How was the submission prepared?

The majority of the submission was prepared at a Faculty level, with support from RIS, Directors of Research and impact case studies leaders.


  • RIS produced a list of current staff to be included in the submission, which was agreed with the Directors of Research in each department.
  • The number of outputs required (302) was twice the total of staff FTE. The outputs were selected from the bank of over 1300 papers that have been reviewed so far by the Faculty REF Team since 1 January 2014.
  • Reflecting REF 2021 rules, a minimum of one paper had to be submitted for each member of staff, which was the highest scoring paper reviewed by the Faculty REF Team to date.
  • The Faculty Research Committee agreed the following process for co-authored papers where neither author had another paper of the same score:
    1. The selection of papers that provided the highest possible score were chosen.
    2. Where the score of the next highest paper was the same, the highest scoring paper was allocated to the corresponding author.
    3. In a few cases, this did not decide the allocation and Directors of Research were asked to select the papers that would be most suitable for the REF.
  • The remaining outputs selected were the next highest scoring papers (with a maximum of five per academic in total) and this could also include papers authored by former staff.


  • During the summer, the Dean and Associate Dean (Research) met with each leader of the impact case studies considered strong for REF 2021 to discuss progress.
  • In November 2017, all impact case study leaders were asked to check and update the impact records on Pure, link related publications and add in evidence of impact.
  • The case studies were reviewed at a Faculty level and the Dean and Associate Dean (Research) selected the impact case studies to be submitted. The Faculty submitted 14 case studies, 11 strong and 3 possible cases (a minimum of 12 case studies were required).


  • The Directors of Research updated the departmental environment templates that were submitted in the first RRE in 2016. Current doctoral degree and income data was provided by RIS.

The Associate Dean (Research) produced a commentary and analysis of the output, impact and environment elements and following approval from the Dean, all reports were submitted by 28 February 2018.

What happens next?

The University’s internal assessment panels are currently reviewing all submissions. The Dean and Associate Dean (Research) will receive feedback later this month, which will include a particular focus on actions that could strengthen submissions.

The RRE was very positive from the Faculty’s perspective: 97% of outputs submitted were 3* and above and our submission demonstrated the strong impact developing in all departments. Preparations for the next REF are ongoing in the Faculty, with a particular focus on increasing the number of 4* papers.

We will continue working towards REF 2021 and would like to thank all colleagues for their hard work in delivering outstanding publications and creating great impact.

Posted in: Team updates

Find out how the Faculty is preparing for REF 2021