For the current REF, see the REF 2029 website | For REF 2021, see the REF 2021 website
You are in : Home » About the REF » Guidance and criteria » Submitting research outputs

Submitting research outputs

The information on this page was published whilst the exercise was being conducted; this material is provided for background information only and will not be updated.

Outputs listed in submissions will be collected and made available to the relevant sub-panel, as follows:

  • For journal articles and conference proceedings, the submission must include a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) wherever available, to enable the REF team to source these outputs from the publishers. Where we cannot source such outputs from the publishers, the HEI must upload a PDF copy to the REF submission system.
  • For all other output types, the HEI must either upload a PDF to the submission system, or deposit a physical output to the REF warehouse.

These pages provide further guidance on how HEIs should provide outputs submitted to the REF.

Output formats and requirements

The table below describes what must be provided by the HEI, for each type of output. For each type of output, the HEI must either upload a PDF or deposit a physical output, or may choose either of these. Where there is a choice, a PDF should be uploaded wherever the output is already available in this form or can be converted or scanned into a PDF of sufficient quality, within the file size limit (as described in the guidance on uploading PDF outputs). 

Each output must be provided either as a PDF upload or deposited as a physical output; not as a mixture of the two.

Output collection formats*

Download the Output collection formats guidance as MS Word (55 KB)

*Requirements for output type C updated on 15 March 2013

The table describes the requirements for submitting the output or a representation of the output, and any additional information or material that may be required. Where requested in the table, the submitted evidence must include: 

  • Evidence of the year of dissemination in the public domain (for example, a dated conference or performance programme or exhibition catalogue).
  • For outputs whose research content has changed or is capable of changing over time, evidence that the submitted content is the same as that at the time of publication (for example, a date-stamped or date-certified copy).

The suggestions given for evidence of the year of dissemination or the content at the date of publication are examples only. If institutions have other forms of evidence, that evidence may be provided. It is up to the submitting institution to provide the evidence, how they go about collecting it and in what form it is provided.

The information requirements for outputs listed in REF2 include a 'media of output' field. The field needs to be completed for certain output types as outlined in the 'output information requirements' spreadsheet. This field should be used to identify the particular format(s) in which the output will be submitted (for example paper, DVD, CD, USB). Where a portfolio of materials will be deposited as evidence of the output, this should also be indicated in the 'media of output' field (for example 'paper portfolio' or 'DVD and paper portfolio').

Further information

Further guidance on submitting research outputs is available as follows:

License agreement

HEFCE has agreed a royalty-free licence with the Copyright Licensing Agency to enable access for REF purposes to books, journals, periodicals and conference proceedings purchased by the UK higher education community.

The licence permits the REF team to access journal articles and conference proceedings directly from publishers' web-sites and provide them to panel members for the purposes of the REF. It also permits HEIs to provide research outputs to the REF team for the purposes of the REF. Where an HEI has a subscription permitting access to the full text of a submitted research output, the HEI is authorised to download the publisher's PDF file for transmission to the REF Team. For research outputs available in print, HEIs may provide scanned or photocopied copies.

 Copyright Licensing Agency agreement

 Download the CLA Agreement as PDF (174 KB)