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Assessment framework and guidance on submissions

July 2011

REF 02.2011

This document is for information.

This document sets out the general framework for assessment in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) and provides guidance to UK higher education institutions about making submissions to the 2014 REF. It includes guidance on procedures, the data that will be required, and the criteria and definitions that will apply. The deadline for submissions is 29 November 2013.

Amendments to the guidelines in REF 02.2011 were made, following consultation on the draft panel criteria and working methods. These changes are published in '2012-01' and have been incorporated into the document below.

To: Heads of publicly funded higher education institutions in the UK
Of interest to those responsible for: Research
Reference: REF 02.2011
Publication date: July 2011
Enquiries from staff at UK higher education institutions: E-mail your institutional REF contact
Other enquiries: Anna Dickinson, tel 0117 931 7477,

Table of contents and executive summary (read online)


Download the Assessment framework and guidance on submissions (including addendum) as PDF (987 KB)

*Please note this document has been updated to include the addendum published in January 2012. Page numbers may vary from the printed edition. Printed copies of the updated version are not available


  • Executive summary
  • Introduction
  • Part 1: Overview of the assessment framework
    • Purpose
    • General principles
    • Framework for assessment
    • Publication of results and submissions
    • Equality and diversity
    • Timetable
    • Key changes since RAE 2008
  • Part 2: Submissions
    • Scope of submissions
    • Content of submissions
    • The submission process
    • Data verification
    • Interdisciplinary and collaborative research
  • Part 3: Data requirements and definitions
    • Section 1: Staff details (REF1a/b/c) *paragraphs 88 – 95 have been updated
    • Section 2: Research outputs (REF2) *paragraph 112-113 have been updated
    • Section 3: Impact template and case studies (REF3a/b)
    • Section 4: Environment data (REF4a/b/c)
    • Section 5: Environment template (REF5)
  • Part 4: Codes of practice on the selection of staff
    • Introduction
    • The legislative context
    • Guidance to institutions
  • Annexes
    • Annex A Assessment criteria and level definitions
    • Annex B Quality profiles
    • Annex C Definitions of research and impact for the REF
    • Annex D Units of assessment
    • Annex E Timetable
    • Annex F Format and page limits for textual parts of submissions
    • Annex G Impact case studies: template and guidance
    • Annex H Standard data analyses
    • Annex I Index of definitions and data requirements
    • Annex J List of abbreviations

Executive summary


1.   This document:

  • sets out the framework and generic criteria for assessment in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF)
  • specifies the content, data requirements and related definitions for submissions to the 2014 REF
  • guides higher education institutions on policy and practical matters in preparing submissions.

Key points

2.   The REF will be a process of expert review. Expert sub-panels for each of 36 units of assessment (UOAs) will carry out the assessment, working under the leadership and guidance of four main panels.

3.   In October 2012 the four UK higher education funding bodies will invite UK higher education institutions to make submissions to the 2014 REF. Each submission in each UOA will contain a common set of data comprising:

  1. Information on staff in post on the census date, 31 October 2013, selected by the institution to be included in the submission.
  2. Details of publications and other forms of assessable output that selected staff have produced during the publication period (1 January 2008 to 31 December 2013).
  3. A completed template describing the submitted unit's approach during the assessment period (1 January 2008 to 31 July 2013) to enabling impact from its research, and case studies describing specific examples of impacts achieved during the assessment period, underpinned by excellent research in the period 1 January 1993 to 31 December 2013.
  4. Data about research doctoral degrees awarded and research income related to the period 1 August 2008 to 31 July 2013.
  5. A completed template describing the research environment, related to the period 1 January 2008 to 31 July 2013.

4.   The deadline for submissions is 29 November 2013. Submissions will be assessed by the REF panels during the course of 2014. Results will be published in December 2014, and will be used by the higher education funding bodies to inform research funding from academic year 2015-16.

Action required

5.   This document is for information and to guide institutions in preparing and collecting data for inclusion in REF 2014 submissions. No action is required by higher education institutions at this stage.

Further information

6.   Further information about the REF is available.

7.   Enquiries from members of staff at UK higher education institutions should be directed in the first instance to their institutional REF contact. These contacts for each institution are listed under Contact.

8.   Other enquiries should be addressed to