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REF 2021

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK universities and higher education colleges. The REF is also a peer review process, and is now widely seen by institutions and academics as a core element in improving the quality of academic work. The results of the REF2014 were made public in December 2014. The long-term research funding decision that followed was published in March 2015.

The next Research Excellence Framework (REF) will report findings in 2021, with panels of experts having scrutinised submissions of research from higher education institutions covering the period since the last assessment, REF 2014. 

How it works: Read more

UK universities and higher education colleges are asked to submit examples of their best research every six years to be assessed by panels appointed by the UK's four main research funding bodies. These panels consist of a team of academics and industry experts.

The REF2014 was carried out in 36 subject-based units of assessment (UoAs). These expert sub-panels - comprising 898 academics and 259 research users - carried out the assessment. The sub-panels worked under the guidance of four main panels, producing a sub-profile for each element (outputs, impact and environment) which was combined into an overall quality profile.

Key terminology

UoA = Unit of Assessment. Brunel submitted to 21 of the total units of assessment in the last REF exercise.

Understanding the results

The primary outcome of the assessment was to award an overall quality profile, showing the proportion of the submission that meets each of the following starred levels:

4* = World leading
3* = Internationally Excellent
2* = Internationally Recognised 
1* = Nationally Recognised
U = Unclassified.

REF expert panels

Each area and phase of submission to REF is assessed by an expert panel appointed by the four UK funding bodies. Find out about Brunel staff appointed to the panels here

More detail regarding the criteria for the sub panels can be found on the REF website.  



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