Queen Margaret University Code of Practice Revised April 2021
The University acknowledges its obligations to comply with equality legislation. It is committed to supporting and promoting equality in research, and to transparency and fairness in decisions concerning the representation of the excellent work of all staff. In this REF 2021 Code of Practice, we set out our processes on:
The fair and transparent identification of staff with Significant Responsibility for Research (SRR).
Determining who is an Independent Researcher.
The selection of outputs.
The REF 2021 Code of Practice will be implemented in line with the following guidance produced by the four UK Higher Education Funding Bodies and available on their REF 2021 website:
- REF 2021 (2019) Guidance on Submissions.
- REF 2021 (2019) Panel Criteria and Working Methods.
- REF 2021 (2019) Guidance on Codes of Practice.
- REF 2021 Summary of Abbreviations and REF 2021 Summary of Definitions are detailed in Appendix 1 and Appendix 2 of this document.
The REF 2021 Code of Practice will ensure that our procedures and processes for REF 2021 do not discriminate unlawfully against, or otherwise have the effect of harassing or victimising individuals because of age, disability, faith/belief, gender identity, marriage/civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, sex and sexual orientation.
In developing and implementing its REF 2021 Code of Practice, the University is committed to the principles behind the key policy decisions underpinning the requirement that Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) submit all staff with SRR. The University acknowledges that this change has been introduced in response to concerns that selecting staff in previous assessment exercises had potentially deleterious effects on individuals, their career choices, progression and morale.
The REF 2021 Code of Practice is consistent with the HR Excellence in Research Award, which was awarded to the University by the European Commission in 2011 and retained after an 8 year peer review in 2019. Fixed-term and part-time staff will not be treated any less favorably than comparable employees on open contracts or working full-time.
Central to our submission to REF 2021 will be an institutional-level environment statement, providing evidence about how equality and diversity in research careers is supported and promoted across the institution.
Definition of Research and Impact for REF 2021
The following REF 2021 definition of Research and Impact, as cited and detailed in the REF 2021 (2019) Guidance on Submissions, will underpin the REF 2021 Code of Practice and wider REF 2021 activities.
Definition of Research for REF 2021 (Further details in REF 2021 (2019) Guidance on Submissions)
For the purposes of REF 2021 research is defined as a process of investigation leading to new insights, effectively shared. It includes work of direct relevance to the needs of commerce, industry, culture, society, and to the public and voluntary sectors; scholarship; the invention and generation of ideas, images, performances, artefacts including design, where these lead to new or substantially improved insights; and the use of existing knowledge in experimental development to produce new or substantially improved materials, devices, products and processes, including design and construction. It excludes routine testing and routine analysis of materials, components and processes such as for the maintenance of national standards, as distinct from the development of new analytical techniques. It also excludes the development of teaching materials that do not embody original research. It includes research that is published, disseminated or made publicly available in the form of assessable research outputs, and confidential reports.
Definition of Impact for REF 2021 (Further details in REF 2021 (2019) Guidance on Submissions)
Scholarship for REF 2021 is defined as the creation, development and maintenance of the intellectual infrastructure of subjects and disciplines, in forms such as dictionaries, scholarly editions, catalogues and contributions to major research databases.
Key REF 2021 Dates
Date or Time Period
31 July 2020
Census date for staff at the end of assessment period (for research impacts, the research environment, and data about research income and research doctoral degrees awarded).
Publication Census Period
1 January 2014 to 31 December 2020
Details of assessable outputs that the submitted unit has produced during the publication period.
Impact Census Period
Case studies describing specific examples of impacts achieved during the assessment period that are underpinned by excellent research.
Research Income and Doctoral Degrees Awarded
1 August 2013 to 31 July 2020
Data about research doctoral degrees awarded, research income and income-in- kind related to the period.
Environment Institutional and Unit Level Census Period
1 August 2013 to 31 July 2020
An institutional level environment statement, and a completed template describing
27 November 2020
Closing Date for Submissions.
How the REF 2021 Code of Practice Relates to Broader Institutional Policies/ Strategies that Promote and Support Equality and Diversity and Update on Actions taken since REF 2014
The institution’s approach to developing, consulting on and implementing the processes detailed in the REF 2021 Code of Practice has been informed by, and are embedded in the University’s equality and diversity policies and strategies. This first section sets out the broader institutional approach.
Mainstreaming describes the process by which equality and diversity are brought into the core of an institution’s work and integrated into day-to-day activities. It is the process by which equality and diversity are considered in relation to all functions, including the development, implementation and review of policies and processes, supported by training and development. For the University, it means ensuring that equality sits at the heart of its mission, strategy, and operational delivery, in order to create a structure and a culture that embraces and advances equality and diversity.
We consider that there has been significant movement towards mainstreaming equality and diversity throughout the University in the period since the publication of the University’s original Mainstreaming Report in April 2013. Equally, however, we recognise that we need to continue to establish outcomes where we have evidence to suggest inequality, with such evidence providing the basis for targeted action, including enhanced policy and practice.
The University has due regard to the general duties as specified under the Equality Act 2010, and which require the University to:
- Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment, and victimisation.
- Advance equality of opportunity by having due regard to removing or minimising disadvantage, meeting the needs of a particular group that are different from the needs of others and by encouraging participation in public life.
- Foster good relations by tackling prejudice and promoting understanding.
The equality outcomes reflect the protected characteristics of age, disability, faith/belief, gender identity, marriage/civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, sex and sexual orientation.
Embedding equality and diversity in our governance structures and in our strategic planning process is critical to mainstreaming equality and diversity, as is defining responsibilities, setting performance measures and monitoring progress against those measures.
While responsibility for mainstreaming equality and diversity within the University rests with all staff and students, the University Court is, as a matter of law, responsible for ensuring compliance with the Equality Act 2010 and for ensuring that the University meets its Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) and the specific duties relevant to Scotland.
The University Court has a role therefore in overseeing the University’s performance of its legal duties and in ensuring appropriate mechanisms are in place to provide the necessary assurances from the senior management team that legal requirements are being met.
The University Court exercises such oversight through the Equality and Diversity Committee (EDC). The EDC is responsible to the University Court for the development of the strategic framework for equality in service provision and in employment across the University. The Committee is a Standing Committee of the Court, to which it reports at each meeting on its discussions, on the development of specific initiatives, and to which it presents policies and procedures for approval. In so doing, it has a function that reflects the general duties.
The EDC has a remit to eliminate discrimination, advance equal opportunities and foster good relations by tackling prejudice and promoting understanding, thereby ensuring the University avoids the potential for discrimination on grounds of the protected equality strands.
The Committee’s remit goes beyond legislative compliance. It aims to support delivery of key elements of the University’s Strategic Plan through policy development and the promotion of examples of good practice from both internal and external sources. It also seeks to develop and maintain effective networking and liaison in equality and diversity issues. This applies internally within the University and externally, with a particular focus on working relationships with professional equality experts and equality bodies such as the Equality and Human Rights Commission and Advance HE (formerly the Equality Challenge Unit).
Along with its responsibility to develop and agree the institutional mission, the University Court has a role in ‘establishing a vision for equality, and in moving the agenda beyond compliance to an approach that ensures the richness and diversity of society are reflected and celebrated within the institution’.
We consider that we have made significant progress over the last 5 years in particular in terms of the University Court’s approach to its equality duties, evidenced through policy development and through systematic review of the diversity of its membership. Progress in terms of the latter is described below.
We have moved to collecting equality data in relation to Court members in support of our commitment to ensuring that there is an appropriate balance of independent members on the University Court in terms of equality and diversity. The data assists the Court in meeting its equality and diversity goals by identifying where gaps in representation arise, allowing the Court to target recruitment activity to ensure that an appropriate balance is achieved.
Recruitment for independent or lay members during 2015-17 continued to address directly the diversity of membership in line with the commitment set out in our Mainstreaming Report and Outcomes that ‘all committees and decision making bodies of the University are representative of its community’. A diversity audit of current membership was conducted by the Nominations Committee so that recruitment took account fully of the balance of skills, attributes and experience of the current lay membership.
With advice from Advance HE, we have particularly sought expressions of interest from women, disabled people, ethnic minorities and applicants who would further enhance the diversity of the Court. Advertisements for vacancies are placed in a range of media, including, Women on Boards (WOB), with the intention of encouraging more female applicants. WOBs exists to provide information, encouragement and connections to help women get to the top within their own company or to take on a board or committee role as a non executive director (NED), trustee or governor. Again with the advice of Advance HE, the person specification was revised so as to accommodate those without previous board level experience, but who were able to demonstrate a track record of success in professional areas of expertise.
At its meeting in December 2014, the University Court approved goals and policies in regard to the balance of its independent members in terms of equality and diversity as follows:
‘Queen Margaret University is committed to ensuring that the University Court (Court), Senate and all committees and decision making bodies of the University are representative of its community. In particular, the University will seek opportunities to address gender balance and to strengthen the representation and voice, amongst its lay membership, of all groups represented byCourt’.
To this end, the University is committed to achieving the following goals and targets:
- The University will work towards achieving practical gender balance amongst lay members of Court. Practical gender balance will be achieved where the lay membership of Court constitutes not less than 40% of either gender.
- The University will undertake an annual review of the equality and diversity characteristics of the Court or as a specific need for review is identified.
- In undertaking any recruitment activity concerning the appointment of lay members of Court, the Court will have regard to equality and diversity characteristics of the Court and will take positive actions to increase the likelihood of applications being submitted from applicants that would enhance the representative character of the Court.
- The University will harness appropriate opportunities to further promote and improve gender balance and enhance the representative character of the Court, Senate and other committees and decision-making bodies within the University including but not limited to making training on equality and diversity available to members of the Court.
A number of other Committees and structures within the University are concerned with eliminating discrimination, advancing equal opportunities and fostering good relations by tackling prejudice and promoting understanding, These include the Research Strategy Committee, REF 2021 Strategy Group, REF 2021 Equality and Inclusion (Code of Practice) Group and our Graduate School, responsible for our Doctoral Candidates.
Wider Institutional Mission, Vision and Strategic Planning
The University’s refreshed Vision (April 2015) is to be ‘a University of ideas and influence’. The University’s Mission reflects the Vision, with a stated commitment to social justice and to being a community without borders. Underpinning the Mission and the Vision are the Values to which the University aspires, including ‘recognising equality and diversity in all we do’.
Through supportive leadership, staff are encouraged to think creatively and take considered risks. We will attract and retain good staff by valuing them through transparent promotion opportunities, appropriate staff development, inclusivity and equality, and through instilling in our staff a strong sense of social responsibility. The policy and practice of the University is that staff are afforded equal opportunities within employment. Entry into employment, and progression within employment, is determined by personal merit and the application of criteria related to the duties of each particular post and the relevant salary structure.
We are committed to ensuring that our staff population is representative of the wider community. Monitoring of that is conducted through profiling of staffing. Evidence in support of that is published every two years, with the most up to date report being published in April 2019.
The University adopted a revised Equality Policy in 2015, which, with the Mainstreaming Report, replaced the University’s Single Equality Scheme. The Equality Policy articulates the University’s approach to Equality in relation to staff and students. Amongst its provisions are:
- Staff and students at the University are expected to treat others with respect at all times and to challenge discriminatory behaviour, attitudes or practices whenever they occur.
- In support of the above, the University will provide opportunities for staff and students to participate in learning opportunities that enable them to consider their own prejudices and adopt good practice.
- In relation to staff, the policy confirms the University’s position, which is that staff are afforded equal opportunities within employment, and that entry into employment with the institution, and progression within employment, will be determined only by personal merit and the application of criteria which are related to the duties of each particular post and the relevant salary structure.
- It is in the best interests of the University and everyone who works within the University to ensure that whenever employment opportunities arise, we consider the human resources, talents and skills available throughout the community. Within the framework of the law, we are committed, whenever practicable, to achieve and maintain a workforce that broadly reflects the community in which we operate and this will include using diverse sources of recruitment and adverts which target specific groups where permissible. The University will also provide fair and accessible opportunities for training and promotion for staff.
- The University will promote the use of inclusive language and avoid the use of words or phrases which are discriminatory or exclusive in all University publications and correspondence.
- The Court shall promote mainstreaming and ensure equality is an integral part of the planning process. The Court shall also take active measures to encourage diversity in membership and the business of the Court and actively involve students in decision making and policy development.
- In research, the University will continue to advance equality and diversity in REF 2021 and build on this good practice in the future. The University will celebrate and promote equality and diversity in research through the use of case studies, engagement in sector working groups, events, nominated champions and promotional material.
- The University will maintain its Athena SWAN awards and seek to obtain further recognition to promote its good practice.
- The EDC will ensure that the Equality Policy and its aims are enacted throughout the University by the scrutiny of emerging policy and procedure under the Equality Impact Assessments (EIA) regime and through reporting on mainstreaming and the equality outcomes. Employment statistics will be reviewed by the EDC and published in line with the Scottish specific duties to ensure that, in terms of employment, the University is meeting the aims under this policy.
Institutional Mainstreaming - Equality Impact Assessment (EIA)
As part of its mainstreaming approach, the University undertakes EIAs when reviewing and developing strategy, policy and process. This is an area where we have made significant progress over the last 5 years, but we recognise that we have more to do in terms of expanding the pool of trained staff. Further narrative is included throughout the REF 2021 Code of Practice.
We have in place management information capability that provides us with the basis to monitor and evaluate our performance across a wide range of indicators. We recognise though that the usefulness of such management information is reliant on our capacity to collect data and to produce resulting meaningful analysis. This is an area in which we have made significant progress over the past 5 years in terms of student data collection and analysis, and through the further development of our Human Resources (HR) iTrent system.
The Use of Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) in the Implementation of the REF 2021 Code of Practice
EIAs have been, and will be conducted routinely during the development of all policies and procedures. In order to understand better the potential barriers to research individuals from protected groups face, the University undertook a survey of all academic staff in early 2019. The data collected from that survey informs our approach to ensuring our processes eliminate bias and promote equality in research. EIAs have been and will be used to inform the development, application and outcome of the REF 2021 Code of Practice and at the following stages identified in Figure 1
Figure 1 The use of EIA in the development and application of REF 2021 processes
|Equality Impact Assessment (EIA)||Committee responsible for EIA of Process Development and EIA of Application of Process and Timing|
|Development of the REF 2021 Code of Practice||Final Code of Practice:Ref 2021 Equality and Inclusion(Code of Practice) Group May 2019|
|REF 2021 Identification of Staff and Signtification Responsibility for Research an Research independence||
Process Development: REF2021 Equality and Inclusion (Code of Practice) Group - December 2018 - Process Application:REF 2021 Staff Panels
January 2019, January 2020, July 2020
|REF 2021 Staff Appeals||
Process Development: REF2021 Equality and Inclusion (Code of Practice) Group - March 2019 - Process Application:REF 2021 Appeals Panels
May 2019, October 2019
May 2020, October 2020
REF 2021 Procedure for taking into account staff circumstances
Process Development: REF2021 Equality and Inclusion (Code of Practice) Group - May 2019 - Process Application:REF 2021 Staff Circumstances Panels
May 2019, October 2019
May 2020, October 2020
Spread of outputs across staff(in relation to their protected characteristics) and how these have informed the REF2021 final selection of outputs
Process Development: REF2021 Equality and Inclusion (Code of Practice) Group - September 2019 - Process Application:REF 2021 UoA Group
January 2020, July 2020, October 2020
REF 2021 Submission Outcome
Final Submission Outcome:REF 2021 Equality and Inclusion (Code of Practice) Group
EIAs have been and will be undertaken on the process development (to assess potential effects) and process application (outcome of the application of the process). The frequency and timings of EIAs are key to the delivery of the REF 2021 Code of Practice. EIAs have been undertaken where the key processes above have been developed and will be repeated each time the process is applied by the relevant REF 2021 Panel or Group. The results of the EIAs will be used to inform processes as stated in each of the sections of the REF 2021 Code of Practice. All EIAs will be considered by the institutional EDC and made available to all staff via the REF 2021 Intranet Site.
The EIA on the final submission to REF 2021 by the University on the distribution of outputs across staff (in relation to their protected characteristics) will be informed by the final selection of outputs submitted at UoA Level. This will be completed by REF 2021 Unit of Assessment (UoA) Leads, supported by HR. Actively addressing and responding to issues identified by EIAs in relation to output selection is a specified criterion for output selection in the REF 2021 Code of Practice.
An EIA of this Code of Practice is provided in Appendix 19. Additional individual EIAs on the development of underpinning processes are published on the EDC and REF 2021 staff intranet sites.
Human Resources (HR) Strategy
In support of our commitment to embedding transparent and fair practices in the recruitment and selection of our staff, all HR policies including those concerned with the recruitment and selection of staff are subject to robust EIA.
In order to ensure fair treatment the University adopts a competency based approach to interviews; all those participating in appointment panels are offered training and HR support in order to enrich their understanding and ensure consistent application of the competency based approach. The competency based approach supports the objective assessment of competencies linked to the job description reducing the potential for bias in selection decisions.
In addition to face-to-face training and HR support, the University launched in February 2015 a range of e-learning modules, including specific training on unconscious bias. These modules have been made available to all staff. In April 2016, unconscious bias e-learning training was made mandatory for all staff participating in selection panels for staff recruitment and from 2018 became a mandatory training requirement for all new staff. Most recently in March 2017 and in March 2018, unconscious bias training was extended to members of the EDC and University Court members. The University continues to offer equality and diversity training for all staff on an annual basis.
We are committed to the principle of equal pay for work of equal value, free from bias and based on objective criteria. The University recognises that under the Equality Act 2010, both women and men have the right to equal pay for work of equal value. This applies to all employees regardless of full or part-time status, casual or temporary contract or length of service. Equally, the University also recognises its duty to provide equal pay for work of equal value regardless of differences in age, disability, faith/belief, gender identity, marriage/civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, sex and sexual orientation.
The University has in place a pay and grading system which is used to assist in determining equal pay across the University. The pay and grading system is applied transparently, based on objective criteria, and free from unlawful bias. The University’s policies and procedures associated with pay and remuneration have been developed and implemented with a view to eliminating unlawful bias and are systematically monitored and reviewed.
In order to put the University’s commitment to equal pay for work of equal value into practice we:
- Conduct an equal pay review on an annual basis in accordance with the PSED for all current staff and starting pay for new staff.
- Monitor the impact of our policies and procedures associated with pay and remuneration and take appropriate action where necessary.
- Provide guidance for managers involved in decisions about recruitment, pay, benefits and promotions.
We are one of 6 universities in Scotland that have made the real Living Wage commitment by becoming an accredited Living Wage employer. The University welcomed the Scottish Government’s Higher and Further Education Minister, Shirley-Anne Somerville, to celebrate the this commitment during Living Wage Week (30 October - 5 November 2016).
All HR polices are subject to review on an annual basis or as legislation changes, and are subject to an EIA and to consultation with the University’s Trade Unions.
The University has developed policies for Special Leave arrangements which offer a degree of work flexibility for those staff with caring responsibilities. The University provides for flexible working requests from all staff. Managers work with staff members to establish working patterns and arrangements that meet the needs of the individual and of the University. The University accommodates a high volume of flexible working requests, both formal and informal to support employees in managing their caring responsibilities.
Return to work from periods of absence is given particular emphasis to ensure staff feel welcomed back. Flexibility of working patterns is discussed and supported either short or long-term to assist a smooth transition back to work. Re-induction and re-training may be considered, especially if significant changes have occurred during staff absence. For nursing mothers, a designated, private nursing room with fridge storage facilities is available.
All employees have access to a confidential Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) external to the University. The EAP may be useful for individuals returning to work, services include: counselling, a health information helpline, work-life management support and access to online information and support.
Awareness of HR policies continues to be raised through the University induction process and through the QMU@Work booklet.
Institutional activity in support of Athena SWAN
The University was awarded an institutional Athena SWAN Bronze Award in April 2013 and successfullyrenewedtheBronzeAwardin2017.Sincethen,ourAthenaSWANteamhascontinued to progress gender equality across the institution by addressing actions set out in our Action Plan. There is a clear commitment to embedding Athena SWAN principles across our workforce. We have implemented a rolling programme for departmental award applications across academic divisions in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) and Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, Business and Law (AHSSBL) over the next 4 years. The University also currently holds a Bronze departmental award for the Division of Nursing.
Institutional activity to address the Disability Profile of Staff
As a ‘Disability Confident’ accredited employer, the University is committed to implementing core actions and activities to support disabled people under the themes, ‘Getting the right people for your business’ and ‘Keeping and developing your people’. ‘Disability Confident’ is a scheme that is designed to help organisations recruit and retain disabled people and people with health conditions for their skills and talent. The University offers recruitment applicants who meet the essential criteria for a role a guaranteed interview and consider reasonable adjustments for new and existing staff declaring a disability. The University accommodates many adjustments for staff on the basis of disability both in relation to workstations and working arrangements such as adjustments to working hours, start and finish times etc. By their nature many of the adjustments made are specific to the individual staff member; however consideration is given to whether the adjustment could be implemented for all staff.
Institutional activity to address the Gender Profile of Staff
The majority of our staff are female, this reflects the gender balance of the student bodies in the disciplines we teach and reflects the gender balance of the professional workforces. The University’s work in progressing gender equality focusses on ensuring that females are as likely to as males to progress to senior positions. We are currently working to review our procedures for the reward, recognition and progression of staff in support of this.
Institutional activity to address the Gender Pay Gap
The University’s Equal Pay Review for 2018 shows that we have an overall pay gap in favour of female staff of 0.27%. We continue to review our pay data on an annual basis and advance actions related to gender pay via our Athena SWAN action plan.
Alignment with Institutional Research and KE Strategy
The REF 2021 Code of Practice aims to support the University’s Research Strategy 2015-20 which states our commitment to:
- Improving the quality of life and building the evidence-base for policy and practice through world leading multidisciplinary, translational research and international collaboration.
- Initiating and sharing research ideas that are demand led and focused on a broader perspective - the value of our work is measured by its impact and the social usefulness, practicality and applicability of its outcomes.
- Working at the intersection of conventional disciplinary groupings to create innovative approaches to contemporary societal challenges and public discourse; and to making a significant contribution to the creation and sharing of knowledge that reaches and influences a broad range of regional and international stakeholders.
With input from staff across the institution, a post REF 2014 Away Day took place on 28 March 2014 to reflect on the REF 2014 submission and EIA and to develop future strategy for REF 2021.
Themes emerging from the event and an update on how some of these have been addressed are summarised below:
Action Identified post REF 2014 - Improve equality and diversity monitoring and data.
Update at REF 2021
Action Identified post REF 2014 - Identify ways to promote clarity and celebrate diversity in QMU academic identities
Update at REF 2021
Action Identified post REF 2014 - Improve and enhance opportunities for mentoring, sabbaticals and researcher development.
Update at REF 2021
Action Identified post REF 2014
Update at REF 2021
Action Identified post REF 2014
• Ensure compliance with sector Concordats and contemporary standards of good practice to ensure quality and integrity in research.
Update at REF 2021
Signatory to the:
Action Identified post REF 2014 - Establish mechanisms to fully capture the positive impact of our research on the economy, health, society, culture, and public discourse.
Update at REF 2021
In September 2018 we were part of the first cohort of UK universities to submit to the Concordat for Research Careers HR Excellence in Research Award Eight Year Review. Retention of the award after eight years is a significant achievement and we have welcomed the timely production of the UKRI Review of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers (June 2018). We have embraced some of the helpful key themes presented in this Review, relating to Researcher Independence, Freedom to Innovate and Equality and Diversity in the delivery of our Concordat Action Plan 2018-2020. In March 2019 we received confirmation that we had been successful in our eight year retention of the award.
Our Welcome to Research@QMU staff booklet, which sets out our commitment to equality and diversity in research, is available on the website, in hard copy at key points across the campus and is sent to all new members of staff by HR. In 2015, as part of our post REF 2014 strategy, we invested in a new institutional structure of strategic Research Centres to help drive equality and diversity at disciplinary level. Specific initiatives around mentoring and peer to peer buddying for female researchers were introduced. Through the annual review of Research Centres, taking place every November, the University monitors progress in addressing and responding to equality and diversity issues and KPIs have been set.
Since REF 2014, we have sought to establish mechanisms to fully capture the positive impact of our research on the economy, health, society, culture, and public discourse. In 2015 a new Research derived Impact Strategy and investment plan was launched and implemented from 2016 onwards.
On the commercialisation of research we are working with other Scottish Universities through the Scottish Funding Council’s (SFC) University Innovation Fund (UIF) collaboration to improve baseline data on equality and diversity for innovation and enterprise activities including the translation of research to industry, start-ups and spin-out. We are actively involved in a UIF working group, tasked at addressing Equality and Diversity in research and innovation. Specifically we have been championing Female Entrepreneurship, building on the success of our 2019 EntreprenHER event with our Chancellor Prue Leith. We are committed to ensuring that our mandates for equality and diversity and social innovation cut across all of our research and innovation activities, rather than acting as discrete, unsustainable, stand-aloneinitiatives.
We have continued to promote equality and diversity in research careers building on initiatives such as the curation and promotion of the QMU Inspiring Female Researcher Exhibition in 2015 and QMU Inspiring Female Entrepreneur Exhibition in 2017. We remain committed to championing equality and diversity in research careers both within and beyond the traditional domains of STEMM and Athena SWAN.
The University is fully committed to the REF 2021 principle that there are multiple reasons why an excellent researcher may have fewer or more outputs attributable to them in the assessment period and, therefore, the University does not expect that all submitted staff will be returned with the same number of outputs pro-rata.
Central to the University’s strategy is the underpinning principle of REF 2021 that all types of research and all forms of research output across all disciplines shall be assessed on a fair and equal basis, including interdisciplinary and collaborative research. We welcome recognition by REF 2021 of the essential role of interdisciplinary research in addressing complex problems and research questions posed by global social, economic, ecological and political challenges.
Appendix 3 sets out categories of output types under which outputs can be submitted in REF 2021. The University will not regard any particular form of output as of greater or lesser quality than another per se including:
- (Parts of) books
- Journal articles.
- Physical artefacts.
- Exhibitions and performances.
- Other documents.
- Digital artefacts.
How the institution is addressing the principles of Transparency, Consistency, Accountability and Inclusivity in demonstrating fairness
The University is committed to demonstrating fairness to its staff by addressing the following REF 2021 principles through its REF 2021 Code of Practice:
- Appointment of a University REF 2021 Academic Lead to champion the REF 2021 Code of Practice and promote understanding of the processes that underpin it.
- Investment in a new dedicated, independent central post in the Research and Knowledge Exchange Development Unit (RKEDU) to oversee the operational implementation of the REF 2021 Code of Practice process specifically on the selection and attribution of outputs across all UoAs.
- Transparency in processes that are made available in an easily accessible format and publicised to all academic staff across the institution, including on the staff intranet, hard copy and the University website and drawn to the attention of those absent from work.
- Promotion of an institutional programme of communication activity that will be used to disseminate the REF 2021 Code of Practice and explain the processes relating to it.
- Implementation of a supporting institutional statement, supported by a programme of planned staff training, on the use of research metrics in research assessment. By using a defined and balanced set of measures that are normalised by subject and aligned to REF 2021 (2019) Panel Criteria and Working Methods, the University will apply the use of quantitative metrics in research assessment responsibly. Any areas of potential sources of bias will be addressed. It is recognised, for example, that the most commonly used citation databases are not fairly representative of all our disciplines or output types (e.g. monographs), and that publishing practices vary by gender.
- Appointment of a REF 2021 Equality and Inclusion (Code of Practice) Group, with nominated representatives from the Trade Unions and the institutional EDC, to ensure that the REF 2021 Code of Practice is uniformly implemented across the institution.
- Promotion of an independent, institutional role for RKEDU to ensure responsibility for the day to day operational implementation of the REF 2021 Code of Practice and maintaining oversight of its transparent and consistent application.
- An institutional directive that all decisions relating to the implementation of the REF 2021 Code of Practice are logged centrally using standard institutional forms and follow approved processes.
- Provision of secretariat by RKEDU to all meetings across the institution relating to the implementation of the REF 2021 Code of Practice – Selection of Outputs. Minutes of all meetings logged centrally.
- Provision of secretariat by HR to all meetings across the institution relating to SRR, Research Independence and Staff Circumstances. Minutes of all meetings logged centrally.
- Provision of support from HR Partners to REF 2021 UoA Leads in undertaking EIAs. All EIAs logged centrally and sent to the institutional EDC.
- Robust and auditable decision-making processes implemented to ensure that all eligible staff are treated fairly and consistently.
- Through the institutional EDC, ensure that all REF 2021 structures and processes are deeply embedded in wider institutional support for equality and diversity.
- The REF 2021 Code of Practice describes in detail the governance structures for REF 2021. REF 2021 decision making processes are set out in Appendix 4.
- Specific REF 2021 Equality and Diversity training for all staff involved in REF 2021 decision making processes.
- An Independent REF 2021 Appeals Panel, including two external members with extensive experience in research assessment in other HEIs, who will support processes for SRR and Research Independence.
- All decisions based on auditable evidence and in line with the REF 2021 Code of Practice.
- A commitment, through a new institutional membership to the UK Research Integrity Office (UKRIO), to maintaining the highest standards of research integrity and compliance with the Concordat to Support Research Integrity. This Concordat seeks to provide a comprehensive national framework for good research conduct and its governance and supports our work with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to maintain accuracy, honesty and transparency. The institutional assessment of research integrity will also form part of the environment section of REF 2021. Astaff training programme to support our commitment to research integrity has taken place and will be repeated.
- A Research Support Librarian available to help all staff with open access and publishing, research metrics, resources to assist with developing and measuring impact, and research data management.
- Rolling processes running until the REF 2021 census date, that will enable the University to identify all eligible staff, including those who are independent researchers and those with protected characteristics, and to consider all of their eligible outputs.
- Identified all ‘eligible’ staff on teaching and research and research only contracts and seeks to include in its submissions outputs from all staff that meet the criteria set out in the REF 2021 Code of Practice.
- A programme of REF 2021 Staff Training on self assessment of outputs and understanding REF quality ratings and the use of metrics, adapted to the working methods and criteria of the different REF 2021 Main Panels.
- A Staff REF 2021 ‘drop-in’ clinic, led by the REF 2021 Academic Lead, running every month from March 2019 until the REF 2021 census date to encourage informal discussion and dialogue.
- Feedback from a staff survey to identify barriers to research, undertaken prior to the publication of the REF 2021 Code of Practice, and addressed and implemented going forward.
- Promotion of an inclusive research environment by establishing, maintaining and updating EIAs at all key stages of the process.
- Ensure that our commitment to the principles of Transparency, Consistency, Accountability and Inclusivity are reflected and underpin the Environment and Impact sections of our REF 2021 Submission.
- Reference will be made to the principles, as appropriate, throughout the implementation of the REF 2021 Code of Practice.
How the REF 2021 Code of Practice is being communicated to staff across the institution (including to those on leave of absence) through the various mechanisms and channels, including the staff intranet
A comprehensive programme of communication has and will be implemented as follows:
- Publication of ongoing drafts and of the REF 2021 Code of Practice on the University’s intranet and website (in accessible formats).
- Ongoing discussions at committees, staff meetings and dedicated REF 2021 Code of Practice meetings with the Trade Unions to ensure meaningful consultation.
- An institution wide staff consultation on SRR and Research Independence from 1March to 1 May 2018.
- Promotion of ongoing opportunities for staff consultation in the development of the REF 2021 Code of Practice in the Principal’s Monthly Newsletter.
- REF 2021 Strategic Update emails sent to all staff from the Principal.
- REF 2021 Regular Update emails from the Deputy Principal.
- Tailored communication programmes for specific groups i.e. contract research staff.
- Promotional material and visual awareness campaigns around the campus including REF 2021 ‘Pop-Ups’.
- Appointment of an institutional REF 2021 Academic Lead to champion the REF 2021 Code of Practice.
- All academic staff away from the University, including those on sick leave, sabbatical, career break and child related leave, will receive a copy of the REF 2021 Code of Practice at their home address.
- A Staff REF 2021 ‘drop-in’ clinic, led by the REF 2021 Academic Lead, running every month from March 2019 until the census date to encourage informal discussion and dialogue.
- New members of REF 2021 Eligible Staff, joining the University after the publication of the REF 2021 Code of Practice, will be sent an email introducing the REF 2021 Code of Practice and alerting them to the University REF 2021 webpage and processes.
- Awareness of the REF 2021 Code of Practice underpins all stages of the REF 2021 submission development throughout the census period. Good practice will be applied and embedded in Impact Case Study selection and development.
- Requirement for Research Centre Directors to embed the institutional spirit and commitment to the REF 2021 Code of Practice in our wider research environment beyond REF 2021. This will be monitored and progress published via the Research Centre Annual Reviews that take place in November each academic year.
- The University has also prepared a user friendly, quick reference guide to support this document. This will be made available to all academic staff including those away from the University.
Staff, Committees and Training
The staff and committees involved in all of the processes covered by the REF 2021 Code of Practice are briefly summarised in Figure 2b (Refer to Appendix 4 for further detail). All staff involved in the processes have and will be provided with training on equality and diversity, tailored to the purposes of REF 2021. The QMU REF 2021 Equality and Diversity Training Programme(Refer to Appendix 5) details the equality training that designated persons will either undertake or have undertaken during the assessment period and the level of understanding of the issues they will be required to attain. This includes training schedules for staff and committees, with criteria for training clearly recorded.
TheUniversityisasmallHEIwithapproximately250REF2021EligibleStaff. Astrategicdecision, in consultation with staff, was taken not to undertake a mock REF exercise and to prioritise embedding the structures, training and values that will support the REF 2021 Code of Practice and remove any unconscious bias before making any decisions on quality.