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Next year’s UK-wide assessment of university research excellence (REF 2021) will see a substantial increase in the number of staff providing submissions.

Information collected from universities ahead of next year’s exercise shows that they plan to submit the work of more than 74,500 full-time equivalent staff compared with a figure of just over 52,000 for REF 2014. This is in response to one of the key recommendations of Lord Stern’s independent review of university research funding. The review called for all staff with a significant responsibility for research to be submitted for future assessments.

Stuart Fancey, Director of Research and Innovation at the Scottish Funding Council, said:

“These figures indicate that we are heading for a submission level of around 75% of all eligible staff. This marks a significant move away from the more selective approach taken for REF 2014 and is a major step towards meeting Lord Stern’s recommendation of the widest possible assessment of quality research, with its benefits for research staff development.”

In setting the overall number of outputs required for submission, the four UK funding bodies behind REF 2021 aim to ensure that the workload of the evaluation panels remains manageable. According to the data now available the overall number of outputs anticipated for submission will rise by just 2%. The number of impact case studies is also expected to be similar to REF 2014.

The greatest increase in the volume of staff to be submitted is expected to be in the social sciences.