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REF Introduction

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the system from Research England for assessing research in UK higher education institutions (HEIs) and is carried out every six or seven years. The first REF took place in 2014, replacing the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), and the latest one was completed in March 2021. The University of Suffolk (UoS) made it’s first submission to REF in 2021.

Established as a community impact institution in one of the UK’s higher education cold spots, the University of Suffolk (UoS) incorporates the best university traditions, delivering high-quality higher education that’s fit for the 21st century of employment and entrepreneurship. In just a few years, we’ve built a distinctive, thriving academic community with incisive research that’s driving positive change across our region.

The principles of transparency, consistency, accountability and inclusivity are at the centre of the processes we have designed in preparation of our first REF submission, and our inclusive ethos underpins our Code of Practice.

We are:

  • compliant with the Concordat for Open Research Data and support open access through our open access repository (OARS)
  • committed to the Declaration on Research Assessment’s responsible use of metrics, and in 2020 implemented a policy for the Use of Metrics in Research
  • adopting the principles in the Concordat for Engaging the Public with Research
  • embedding support for activities which foster public engagement with research in all our lead strategies
  • compliant with the Concordat to Support Research Integrity, which is supported by our Research Misconduct policy. Our Research and Enterprise committee and Research Management group ensure that our core values of honesty, rigour, transparency, care, respect and accountability are firmly upheld.
  • committed to developing and supporting our research staff gaining the HR Excellence in Research Award in gained in 2017 and 2019.

The main purposes of the REF are:

  • To provide accountability for public investment in research
  • To provide benchmarking information for use within the Higher Education sector and for public information.
  • To inform the selective allocation of quality-related (QR) funding for research.

The REF assesses three distinct elements:

  • quality of research outputs 60%
  • impact of research beyond academia 25%
  • the environment that supports research 15%