Research Excellence Framework - initial decisions

Posted in: Research Excellence Framework, Research news

After a long wait over the summer HEFCE have now published the initial decisions on the Research Excellence Framework 2021.  A summary of the main decisions can be found below.

It’s also worth noting that they are now inviting applications for the sub-panel chairs; to apply see Annex B of the initial decisions on the REF document. The deadline for applications is 11 October 2017.

Main decisions


The assessment outcomes will be the product of expert review, informed by indicators where appropriate.  Profile weightings will be as follows;

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

Unit of Assessment Structure:

Several UoAs have been revised;

  • There will be a single UoA for engineering, with a formalised sub-group structure
  • UoA 17 will be restructured as follows: UoA 14 Geography and Environmental studies and UoA 15 Archaeology
  • Film and Screen studies will be located in UoA 33 (currently 35) Music, Drama, Dance, Performing Arts and Screen Studies

Institutional level assessment

  • There will be no institutional level impact case studies though HEFCE will run a pilot which will affect future exercises.
  • There will be no institutional level Environment statement.  Institutional level information will be included in the UoA-level environment template.

Interdisciplinary research

  • Each sub-panel will have at least one member appointed to oversee the assessment of interdisciplinary research
  • To enable better identification of interdisciplinary research an ‘interdisciplinary identifier’ for outputs will be included, with a clear definition and guidance for its use.


  • The environment template will be more structured and use more quantitative data.
  • There will be a “discrete” section of the environment template devoted to interdisciplinary research.
  • There will be no impact template but it will be an “explicit section in the environment element”
  • The revised template will include a section on ‘open research’, detailing the approach to open access and open data


  • There will be an alignment of the definitions for impact so that Research Council definitions of ‘academic impact’ and ‘wider impact’ align with the purposes of the REF.
  • There will be additional guidance on the criteria of ‘reach and significance’ and impacts arising from public engagement.
  • Impact on teaching will include teaching within the university as well as beyond; additional guidance to follow
  • Impact will stay with the institution where the research was conducted
  • Underpinning research will remain at 2*
  • The period for underpinning research will be 1 January 2000- 31 December 2020
  • Impact can occur from 1 August 2013 to 31 July 2020
  • Case studies can be a continuation of a 2014 Case study but they will need to provide evidence of additional impact.
  • A similar number of case studies to 2014 will be required.

There is also a consultation open requesting views (PDF) on questions on staff and output portability.  The University will respond to this; if you have any views to inform this response please do contact Katy McKen.

Posted in: Research Excellence Framework, Research news


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