Research Excellence Framework

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 is the system used by the four UK Higher Education funding bodies for assessing research in UK higher education institutions. It was first conducted in 2014, and replaced the previous Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). The next exercise will be take place in 2021, covering the period from 2014 to 2020.

The primary purpose of REF 2021 is to produce assessment outcomes for each submission made by institutions. These outcomes deliver the wider threefold purpose of the exercise:

  1. The assessment outcomes will be used to inform the selective allocation of the funding bodies grant for research to institutions, with effect from 2022–23.
  2. The assessment provides accountability for public investment in research and produces evidence of the benefits of this investment.
  3. The assessment outcomes provide benchmarking information and establish reputational yardsticks, for use within the higher education sector and for public information.

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. Expert panels are made up of senior academics, international members, and research users.

For each submission, the following elements are assessed:

  • The quality of research outputs (e.g. publications)
  • The impact of research beyond academia
  • The environment that supports research

Further information is available on the REF 2021 website.

The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine has prepared a REF 2021 code of practice, which was approved by Research England in August 2019. This document sets out the governance arrangements, procedures and timetable that will be followed to prepare our submission to REF 2021. The code is designed to ensure that LSHTM adopts a fair and transparent process for determining who is an independent researcher and the selection of outputs for our REF submission.

Further information is available for staff about the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine’s preparations on our REF 2021 intranet pages (internal link only).