REF 2021: Guidance Released

This afternoon HEFCE released the decisions on staff and outputs for REF 2021. Our very own Ruth Hattam was digesting the details over lunch and has come up with a useful bitesize summary. If that’s not enough REF for you you can always read the full thing (it’s only 19 pages):,2021/downloads/REF%202017_04%20Decisions.pdf

  • All staff with significant responsibility for research are returned to REF provided they are independent researchers.  As expected, institutions not going with 100% submission will be able to determine the criteria for identifying staff with significant responsibility.  My reading of the guidance is that it will be possible to consider different criteria for different UoAs, although the rationale for all decisions will need to be captured in the Code of Practice (guidance summer 2018, provisional submission spring 2019).  Further guidance on significant responsibility criteria (determined in conjunction with main panels) will form part of the Guidance on submissions/Panel criteria – the final versions of which will not be available until January 2019.
  • Independent researcher criteria will build on REF 2014 definition and will be worked on with the main panels.
  • ORCID strongly encouraged by not mandated.
  • Average number of outputs is 2.5 per FTE submitted.
  • Minimum of one, maximum of 5 outputs per member of staff (this is a soft 5 with no limit on co-authored papers).  Staff can be returned with zero outputs through an individual circumstances process.  The unit of assessment can also make  case for ‘unit circumstances’ to reduce the overall number of outputs required.
  • Impact case studies will be 2 for up to 15 FTE, then one for each additional 15 FTE (up to 105 FTE when one additional per 50 FTE)
  • Staff census date is 31 July 2020.  Hefce intend to work with HESA ‘to enable close alignment between the information collected and the staff record and the submission requirements of REF.
  • Output portability is the simplified model (i.e. outputs can be returned at current and previous institution – with some caveats).  (85% of the 157 respondents supported this model).
  • The original Open Access requirement (i.e. deposit within 3 months of date of acceptance) will be implemented from April 2018, although there will be the opportunity to record exceptions when deposit is 3 months after publication.



HEFCE’s David Sweeney Blogs: Who Is Research Active?

HEFCE’s Director of Research, Education and Knowledge Exchange, and one of the key architects of the next REF, David Sweeney has published an interesting blog about who counts as “research active” ahead of the closure of the REF2021 consultation tomorrow. He suggests there has been a lot of “push back” from the HE sector on the consultation proposal that “research active” should be determined by contractual status, and that there should be another evidence-based and mutually agreed approach. It’s not clear what this would be, but interesting to see that there’s already movement on this even before consultation responses are in.


Ethics Training – April 2016

L0027293 The gyri of the thinker's brain as a maze of choices in biom

L0027293 The gyri of the thinker's brain as a maze of choices in biom

If you haven’t yet attended, then your next opportunity to do so is at one of the following sessions:

Wednesday 13th April 2016, 14.00 – 16.00, City Campus – Engineering and Environment

Thursday 14th April 2016, 14.00 – 16.00, City Campus – Health and Life Sciences

Monday 18th April 2016, 14.00 – 16.00, City Campus – Arts, Design and Social Sciences

Tuesday 26th April 2016, 14.00 – 16.00, City Campus – Business and Law


More information about the sessions, and how to book your place, can be found here.



Annual Northumbria Research Conference

Northumbria Research ConferenceThe annual Northumbria Research Conference will take place on May 15th/16th at City Campus East.  Booking is now open for Northumbria staff and research students; to book your place visit the Conference registration page or access the Conference programme from the dedicated Conference webpages.  Like last year, all confirmed delegates will receive a packed conference lunch.

The main aim of the conference –which is organised by Research and Business Services – is to raise the profile of research work across the University, and it is therefore aimed at an internal audience. All staff and research students are warmly invited.  Made up of short presentations on individual research activity, and designed to appeal to and engage colleagues from a range of Faculties and subject areas with diverse academic interests, the event always provides an excellent showcase and a thought-provoking two days.

Although time constraints necessitate a fairly busy schedule, and do not allow research students to present papers, there will, as ever, be an exhibition and competition of student research posters in the event foyer space, with results and prizes announced at the closing reception (with refreshments provided) on May 16th – immediately following the last presentations.   For further information about any aspect of the conference, please contact Simon Smith or Gemma Thompson in RBS.