Research Excellence Framework


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University of Sunderland research - a glass brain and spinal column which pulsates electromagnetic light and reacts to human contact

Research Excellence Framework

The REF was first carried out in 2014, replacing the previous Research Assessment Exercise. Read the results of our 2014 submission.

The funding bodies’ shared policy aim for research assessment is to secure the continuation of a world-class, dynamic and responsive research base across the full academic spectrum within UK higher education. UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) expect that this will be achieved through the threefold purpose of the REF:

  • 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 expert panels for each of the 34 subject-based units of assessment (UOAs), under the guidance of four main panels.

For each submission there are three distinct elements assessed:

  1. The quality of outputs (eg: publications, performances, and exhibitions)
  2. Impact beyond academia
  3. 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

Further information about our preparations for the submission are available on the Research pages of My Sunderland (password protected).

Contact: REF@sunderland.ac.uk