REF2021 Update – April 2019

Updated Guidance on Submissions and Panel Working Criteria for REF2021

The UK’s four higher education (HE) funding bodies responsible for delivering the next Research Excellence Framework (REF2021) published their Final Guidance on Submissions and Panel Working Criteria on 31 January 2019.   This was accompanied by a document offering institutions guidance on drafting their Codes of Practice. REF2021 requires institutions to develop, document and apply a Code of Practice to ensure the fair and transparent identification of staff with significant responsibility for research.  All such staff in qualifying units must be submitted to the REF.

The publication of the Final Guidance follows a consultation with HEIs and Learned Societies to which the RHS submitted a response. REF has published a rationale as to how these key decisions on new aspects of the framework were reached.

The REF is structured into four main panels A-D. Panel D contains the Arts and Humanities subjects and is further divided into Units of Assessment (UoA), each of which will be assessed by a separate Sub-Panel.  History is Unit of Assessment 28.

Professor Dinah Birch (Department of English, University of Liverpool), the Chair of Main Panel D, presented a set of slides at a recent meeting of the Arts and Humanities Alliance. These summarise the main changes and clarifications within the REF guidelines following the consultation.  We are pleased to share those slides here.

The slides cover:

  • Research independence
  • Staff in non UK-based units
  • Co-authorship statements
  • Submitting co-authored outputs more than once
  • Version of output to be submitted
  • Double weighting
  • Continued impact case studies
  • Increased focus on equality and diversity in environment

When consulting the slide set, please remember that these guidelines can differ from one main panel to another. In the case of History, it is the stipulations relating to Main Panel D that are relevant. We have added a slide of brief notes to Professor Birch’s presentation to draw attention to areas that we feel are of particular relevance to our members. Professor Birch reflects on the changes in relation to Panel D here.

The RHS is disappointed that many of the suggestions in our consultation response, raising concerns echoed by other organisations within the sector, appear not to have been taken up by REF – notably those regarding the mechanisms for ensuring equality and diversity within submissions.

The RHS will continue to provide information to its members on the evolution of REF 2021, and ensure that any advice regarding the compilation of submissions is widely shared.   We strongly recommend that those with responsibility for REF, or members seeking information about the evaluation process and outcomes, read the History Sub-Panel Report from 2014 available here.