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Research Excellence Framework


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Research Excellence Framework

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the national system for examining the quality of research in UK universities. The first REF was completed in 2014, when it replaced the Research Assessment Exercise. Read the results of our 2014 submission.

The aim of the REF is t make sure UK continues to be a world-class, dynamic and responsive centre of research across all areas of UK higher education. UK Research and Innovation expect that the three purposed of REF will achieve this: 

  • 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 within the HE sector and for public information
  • To inform the selective allocation of funding for research

The REF is a process of expert review, carried out by panels for each of the 34 subject-based units of assessment (UOAs) and guided by four main panels.

For each submission there are three areas that are looked at:

  1. The quality of outputs (eg: publications, performances, and exhibitions)
  2. Impact beyond academia (e.g in the wider world)
  3. The Environment that supports research

REF2021 code of practice

The University’s REF2021 Code of Practice has been developed following a University-wide consultation with staff and sets out the processes for determining:

  • fair and transparent identification of staff with significant responsibility for research
  • research independence
  • the selection of outputs, including approaches to supporting staff with circumstances

Download the approved REF2021 Code of Practice (.pdf).

Find out more

More information about how we prepared for the REF can be found on the Research pages of My Sunderland (password protected).

Contact REF@sunderland.ac.uk for more.