REF logoDraft guidance for REF 2021 was finally published in July, providing further insight into some of the elements that will affect our ongoing preparations.

Specific draft documents looked at the proposed details around criteria for the assessment panels, the rules around submission of staff and outputs, including proposals for reductions for those with exceptional circumstances, and the development of a Code of Practice.

Research England and the other UK funding bodies sought consultation on some of the precise details, with specific questions remaining in some areas.

The University submitted a brief consultation response, addressing a few issues that were noted following internal discussions with representatives from our proposed Units of Assessment, as well as Associate Deans (Research) and others at faculty level, and with senior colleagues.

However, given that the draft guidance has been agreed by all Panels, it is unlikely to change dramatically. The consultation sought to refine specific criteria and remove any ambiguity, but otherwise it’s largely a “done deal”.

As such, we are using the guidance to shape our ongoing REF2021 preparations, including the internal audit which was completed recently. Many colleagues from across the institution fed into this audit, which looked at our potential pool of staff who would be submitted to REF2021, our potential output submission and its quality, and the readiness of our Impact Case Studies.

The audit also gave us an opportunity for a “test run” of processes and practices, and helped highlight a number of ways we can improve as we move towards a REF2021 submission.

The results of the internal audit process are being presented to REF Steering Committee next week, where representatives from all Units of Assessment will be able to provide their comments and feedback before a final report is provided to University Executive.

Once this is done, we hope to share the outcomes with you, including information on what actions need to be taken to ensure we make our very best submission in November 2020.

All staff have a role to play in this, whether it’s maintaining your Pure profile, collating evidence of impact, or ensuring your outputs are Open Access. In future, we will also be asking colleagues to engage in a consultation exercise to help us develop our Code of Practice, and to participate in a process for disclosure of exceptional circumstances.

In the meantime, if you’re feeling keen on all things REF, the Equality and Diversity Advisory Panel (EDAP) are seeking additional members, including those with expertise in mental health practice or Human Resource Management. If you want to know more, please visit the REF website. The deadline for applications is 23 November.