Confirmed Impact Guidance for REF2021

By Feb.18, 2019

With less than 2 years to go until our REF submission (deadline: Friday, 27th November 2020), the final set of guidance materials for REF2021 (including guidance on submissions and panel guidelines) was published on 31 January 2019 following wide consultation with the sector in late 2018. The final guidance documentation is available at www.ref.ac.uk/publications/

What does this mean for impact?

The salient points to take from the final REF guidance on impact case study submission are as follows:

Definition of impact for the REF

For the purposes of the REF, impact is defined as an effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia.

Impact includes, but is not limited to, an effect on, change or benefit to:

• the activity, attitude, awareness, behaviour, capacity, opportunity, performance, policy, practice, process or understanding

• of an audience, beneficiary, community, constituency, organisation or individuals

• in any geographic location whether locally, regionally, nationally or internationally

Impact also includes the reduction or prevention of harm, risk, cost or other negative effects.

Impacts will be assessed in terms of their ‘reach and significance’ regardless of the geographic location in which they occurred, whe

ther locally, regionally, nationally or internationally.

Impact also includes the reduction or prevention of harm, risk, cost or other negative effects.

Each of the four main panels (A, B, C, D) have slightly different requirements for the following:

• Continued case studies

• Indicators of quality for underpinning research

UoA Leads/Deputies are therefore encouraged to look closely at the panel guidance for their particular panel when reviewing impact case study drafts.

Submission requirements

• Each submission must include impact case studies (REF3 template) describing specific impacts that have occurred during the assessment period (1 August 2013 to 31 July 2020) that were underpinned by excellent research undertaken in the submitted unit. The underpinning research must have been produced by the submitting HEI during the period 1 January 2000 to 31 December 2020.

• This may include, for example, impacts at an early stage, or impacts that may have started prior to 1 August 2013 but continued into the period 1 August 2013 to 31 July 2020. Case studies will be assessed in terms of the reach and significance of the impact that occurred only during the period 1 August 2013 to 31 July 2020, and not in terms of any impact prior to this period or potential future or anticipated impact after this period.

• When writing case studies, submitting units should refer to the guidelines for presenting quantitative data set out in the ‘Guidelines for standardising quantitative indicators of impact within REF case studies’. These guidelines have been developed to enable more consistent presentation of quantitative evidence in case studies. This document (and a summary thereof) can be found separately at www.salford.ac.uk/ref under Impact Evidence Collection.

• More than one submitted unit (within the same HEI and/or in different HEIs) may include the same impact within their respective case studies, so long as each submitted unit produced excellent research that made a distinct and material contribution to the impact. In such cases, units may provide common descriptions of the impact arising, where they so wish.

• Impact case studies continued from examples submitted in 2014 will be eligible for submission in REF 2021 as long as they meet the 2021 eligibility criteria, including the length of the window for underpinning research and the assessment period for the impact described.

Go to www.salford.ac.uk/ref to check out all the REF guidance and more.

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