The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).
Submissions to REF2021 were made in March 2021 (delayed from November 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic). Results were published in May 2022. REF2021 is administered and managed by Research England (formerly the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE)) on behalf of all four of the UK's funding bodies for Higher Education and has a threefold purpose:
- 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 with effect from Autumn 2022.
REF2021 assesses the quality of research using three indicators:
- Outputs (the originality, significance and rigour of books, chapters, journal articles and patents). Worth 60% of the overall quality profile.
- Impact (the reach and significance of the economic and societal impact of excellent research). Worth 25% of the overall quality profile.
- Environment (the vitality and sustainability of the research environment). Worth 15% of the total quality profile.