Research Excellence Framework

What is the REF?

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the UK's system for assessing the quality of research in UK universities and higher education colleges.

What is the REF's purpose?

  • To provide accountability for public investment in research and produce evidence of the benefits of this investment.
  • To provide benchmarking information and establish reputational yardsticks, for use within the HE sector and for public information.
  • To inform the selective allocation of funding for research.

When is the next REF?

REF2021 was submitted to Research England in March 2021. It will be assessed throughout 2021 and the results are expected to be published in April 2022.

How is the REF carried out?

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 senior academics, international members, and research users.

For each submission, three distinct elements are assessed:

  • the quality of outputs (e.g. publications, performances, and exhibitions) - 60%
  • impact beyond academia - 25%
  • the environment that supports research - 15%

Contact us:

For more information, contact the University's REF team:


Data collection statements for the REF 2021

The Data Protection Act 2018 and the GDPR require institutions to inform their staff and other stakeholders as to how data about them that are submitted to the REF will be used.

REF 2021 preparation

Information for University of Bristol staff, including our Code of Practice and Complaints Process