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 will be submitted to Research England in late November 2020. It will then be assessed throughout 2021 and the results are expected to be published in December 2021.

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:


Research England guidance

Summary of the latest guidance from Research England.

REF 2021 preparation

Information for University of Bristol staff on preparations for REF2021