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Research Excellence Framework

Research Excellence Framework 2021

What is REF 2021?

REF 2021 is the Research Excellence Framework, administered by Research England. It is the current system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions and happens every 7 years. It is scheduled for 2021 but in reality, much of the preparation will happen between now and 2020, when we have to provide our evidence.

Why does it matter?

Our results from the REF will determine the university’s funding from QR, impact upon our league tables and impact the reputation we have as a university. It is very important to us to perform well across the three elements that are assessed: the quality of our outputs (e.g. publications, performances, and exhibitions), our impact beyond academia, and the environment that supports our research.

What is the code of practice?

Every university that intends to submit to REF 2021 is required to develop, document and apply a code of practice on the fair and transparent identification of staff with significant responsibility for research; determining who is an independent researcher; and the selection of outputs.

Read more here

Professor Susan Backhouse, Director of Research "Since the last census date, our sustained research output demonstrates that we have not lost momentum. Colleagues continue to produce work of world-leading quality because they want to advance understanding of complex phenomena, provide our students with access to the latest thinking in their field, and make a positive and decisive difference to people, communities and organisations in sport, exercise, leisure and tourism contexts."

Research Excellence Framework 2014 

Plus Icon Results

The result of the Research Excellent Framework (REF) in 2014 was undoubtedly a significant highlight as we were placed second in the UK for ‘research power’, which is a measure of research quality and volume of output. This was a move up from third in 2008 - with 59% of the research submitted being assessed as world leading or internationally excellent.

The Institute for Sport, Physical Activity & Leisure submits work to Unit 26 – Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism. For the REF exercise undertaken in 2014, the work of 53 of our academics was submitted.

Plus Icon Reflections

Professor Susan Backhouse, Director of Research for Sport and Exercise Science, Leisure and Tourism reflects on the results from the last assessment exercise:

“Our excellent results in REF 2014 highlight the significant contribution a large number of our staff make to the research field of Sport, Exercise Science, Leisure and Tourism in the UK and beyond. Importantly, our research power underscores the inclusive and collaborative ethos of our unit of assessment.”

Sue adds: “Since the last census date, our sustained research output demonstrates that we have not lost momentum. Colleagues continue to produce work of world-leading quality because they want to advance understanding of complex phenomena, provide our students with access to the latest thinking in their field, and make a positive and decisive difference to people, communities and organisations in sport, exercise, leisure and tourism contexts.

As we look towards REF 2021 our strategy continues to focus our attention around specific areas of research strength. For example, we have recently established a Centre for Applied Obesity Research in order to provide a focal point for our interdisciplinary research in this area.”