What is the REF?

REF, or the Research Excellence Framework, is a nationwide process which assesses the quality and impact of research conducted by universities in the UK.  

Approximately every 7 years, REF collects lots of data from the universities and then scores our research outputs from 1* (quality that is recognised nationally in terms of originality, significance, and rigour) to 4* (quality that is world-leading in terms of originality, significance, and rigour). 

Each member of staff who has made a significant contribution to the University's research over the REF period may be submitted to REF in distinct categories called Units of Assessment. Units of Assessment cover individual research subjects such as Sociology, Computer Science and Infomatics, or Law. In total, there are 34 potential Units of Assessment. 

The bulk of a submission comprises of 'research outputs', which is work produced from research including but not limited to books, journal articles or artistic creations like exhibitions, installations, or performances. The University must also submit Impact Case Studies to each Unit of Assessment. An Impact Case Study is a short essay-like piece, which details the extraordinary, tangible real-life benefits gained from our research.  

Our submission for REF 2021

We submitted a total of 238 members of staff to the REF2021 across 13 Units of Assessment. In total, we submitted 523 research outputs and 29 Impact Case Studies. A total of 346 research degrees were awarded by UEL and we received £11.7 million in research funding.  

Our Impact Case Studies reported a huge variety of research projects whose impact was felt around the world. Between 2014 and 2021, our academics conducted research in Britain, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), India, China, Zambia, and Sierra Leone just to name a few. 

We eagerly await the full results of REF2021 in April 2022.  

UEL's research impact and collaboration

Our Code of Practice and ensuring equality

Ensuring that all our staff are given equal opportunities and representation in our REF submissions is a top priority. Our Code of Practice was designed to eliminate source of bias and potential discrimination. Our Equality Impact Assessment analysed our submission to ensure our Code of Practice was successful.  

Outcome from REF 2014

In our REF2014 submission, over 62% of research was classed as 3* (internationally excellent) or 4* (world leading).  

We performed especially well in the 'Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience' Unit of Assessment, ranking joint first in England for our research impact, with a perfect score of 4* for all the impact case studies.  

The University will continue to strive for research excellence and impactful projects.