The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the system used for assessing the quality of research in UK Universities and Higher Education Colleges.

The final REF 2021 Guidance on Submissions and the REF 2021 Panel Criteria and Working Methods were published by the Joint UK Funding Councils in January 2019.

What is the REF's Purpose?

• To inform the selective allocation of funding for research
• To provide accountability for public investment in research and produce evidence of the benefits of this investment
• To provide benchmarking information and establish reputational yardsticks, for use in the higher education sector and for public information

Units of Assessment (UoA's)

The REF assessment will be carried out by expert sub-panels for each of the 34 units of assessment. These sub-panels will be working under the leadership and guidance of four main panels (A-D). Further details of the expert panel membership are available at HEFCE about REF.

How is it Assessed?

The sub-panels will assess the submitted work, with the overall quality profiles comprising three sub-profile areas:

  • Research outputs - 60% of the overall quality profile
  • Impact - 25%
  • Environment - 15%

The overall quality profile as well as each sub-profile will be based on a 5-point scale (1*-4* and Unclassified).

REF2021 Timetable

  • 1 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2020: Publication period
  • 1 Aug 2013 to 31 July 2020: Assessment period for impact(s)
  • 31 July 2020: Census date for staff in post
  • 27 November 2020: Closing Date for Submissions
  • 2021: Assessment by panels

Preparing for REF 2021 at QMU

QMU has appointed a REF Strategy Group, chaired by the Deputy Principal, to oversee its submission to REF 2021.

A series of QMU REF 2021 Staff Briefing events will take place over the academic year to update staff on  REF 2021 at QMU, the implementation of the REF 2021 Code of Practice and to offer an opportunity for Q and As.

If you have any queries regarding the REF 2021 processes at QMU, please contact REF 2021 Project. Information and updates are also available on the QMU Staff Intranet.




Research and Knowledge Exchange Development Unit

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Research and Knowledge Exchange Development Unit

Kim Stuart Head of Research and Knowledge Exchange Development Unit
0131 474 0000
Vivian Rutherford Research and Knowledge Exchange Officer
0131 474 0000