Glossary of REF terms

Please find below a glossary of the main REF terms:

  • Eligible staff: Defined for REF as academic staff with a contract of employment of 0.2 FTE or greater and on the payroll of the submitting HEI on the census date (31 July 2020), and whose primary employment function is to undertake either ‘research only’ or ‘teaching and research’ and who have a substantive connection to the College, and are an independent researcher.
  • Equality assessments: A thorough and systematic analysis to determine whether the institution’s policies for the REF may have a differential impact on particular groups.
  • Early Career Researcher: Those staff who are eligible staff on the census date, and who started their careers as independent researchers on or after 1 August 2016.
  • HEI: Higher Education Institution
  • REF: Research Excellence Framework. A process of expert review which provides authorised and comprehensible ratings for research in all disciplines to inform UK Higher Education funding bodies’ allocation of grants for research – the results of REF 2021 will inform Research England QR funding for 2022-23 onwards.
  • Research England: Research England is responsible for funding, engaging with and understanding English Higher Education Iinstitutions (HEIs). The Higher Education and Research Act 2017 established Research England as a Council of UK Research and Innovation, alongside the other existing Councils (the seven Research Councils and Innovate UK), by forming from the Research and Knowledge Exchange functions of the former Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). This includes oversight of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) and the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF).
  • Research England QR Funding: Quality-related research funding. It is allocated according to research quality (as judged by expert review in REF), and the volume of staff submitted to the exercise.
  • Research Outputs: defined for the REF as the product of research (the process of investigation leading to new insights, effectively shared), first brought into the public domain during the publication period of 1 January 2014 - 31 December 2020.
  • Unit of Assessment (UoA): Used in the REF to define subject areas.