Frequently Asked Questions

When will the REF 2021 results be published?

The REF 2021 results will be published in May 2022.

How do I know if I am eligible to be submitted to the REF?

The College has opted to submit 100% of eligible staff to the REF. This means that if you are on a teaching and research contract in the academic job family with an FTE above 0.3, you will be eligible. If you are on a research only contract, then a REF specific process of interpretation of research independence must be undertaken to determine whether you are eligible for REF. If you have an FTE between 0.2 and 0.29, you may be eligible but will need to demonstrate a substantive connection to the College.

What do you mean by research independent?

The interpretation of research independence within the REF process is specific to the REF and will be applied only for the purposes of producing the College’s REF submission. As such, the REF interpretation of research independence may differ from judgements of research independence in other contexts and no inferences from the REF research independence can be drawn for other contexts.

For further information about the process to identify research independence, please refer to Part 3 of the Code of Practice.

What counts as a substantive connection?

For staff employed on minimum fractional contracts (0.20 to 0.29 FTE) on the census date, the HEI will need to provide a statement evidencing the clear connection of the staff member with the submitting unit.

Please refer to Guidance on submissions for further details on substantive connections, including a range of indicators that could be used to demonstrate this. Relevant paragraphs within the Guidance on submissions are reported below:

123. For staff employed on minimum fractional contracts (0.20 to 0.29 FTE) on the census date, the HEI will need to provide a short statement (up to 200 words) evidencing the clear connection of the staff member with the submitting unit. A range of indicators is likely to evidence a substantive connection, including but not limited to:

  • evidence of participation in and contribution to the unit’s research environment, such as involvement in research centres or clusters, research leadership activities, supervision of research staff, or supervision of postgraduate research (PGR) students
  • evidence of wider involvement in the institution, for example through teaching, knowledge exchange, administrative, and/or governance roles and responsibilities
  • evidence of research activity focused in the institution (such as through publication affiliation, shared grant applications or grants held with the HEI)
  • period of time with the institution (including prospective time, as indicated through length of contract)

124. Staff who do not have a substantive research connection with the submitting unit will not be eligible for inclusion, such as those who hold substantive research posts at another institution (either within or outside the UK) and whose research is not clearly connected with the submitted unit. A statement evidencing a substantive connection will not be required for staff members with a contract of employment greater than or equal to 0.3 FTE on the census date; however, a substantive research connection remains an eligibility requirement for all staff and HEIs will need to be able to verify this in the event of audit.

125. Staff whose connection cannot be demonstrated to the satisfaction of the REF director, as advised by the relevant sub-panel, will be considered ineligible and removed from the REF database (see also paragraph 137)

126. The funding bodies recognise that there are also particular personal and disciplinerelated circumstances where the minimum fractional contract will commonly apply for staff members who have a substantive connection with the submitting unit. Therefore, in these instances, a statement evidencing a substantive connection will not be required for staff with contract of employment between 0.20 and 0.29 FTE. These instances are as follows:

  • where the staff member has caring responsibilities
  • where the staff member has other personal circumstances (e.g. ill health, disability)
  • where the staff member has reduced their working hours on the approach to retirement
  • where the fractional appointment reflects normal discipline practice (for example, where joint appointments with industry or practice are typical in the submitted unit).

127. Institutions will need to identify the applicable circumstances in lieu of providing a statement at the point of submission. This information will not be made available to panels. No additional information should be submitted; however, HEIs will need to be able to verify the circumstances in the event of audit. Where audit determines the cited circumstances are not applicable, the funding bodies will seek assurance from the HEI that the staff member(s) has a substantive connection as set out in paragraph 123.



How will outputs be selected?

The fundamental over-riding criterion for selecting outputs for submission to the REF and attributing those outputs to staff will be one of quality of the output, and maximising the quality profile of the outputs sub-profile within a Unit of Assessment.

For further details on the process for output selection, please refer to Part 4 of the Code of Practice.

Where do I find information regarding Open Access & the REF?

For more information regarding Open Access and the REF, please visit the College library pages.

Additional FAQs are available on the REF 2021 website.