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Research

Research Excellence Framework

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. It informs the allocation of Research England’s annual quality-related research funding.

It is conducted every six to seven years and measures the quality of research outputs, the impact of research on society and the economy, and the vitality and sustainability of our research environment.

The University of Southampton’s submission to the latest exercise, REF 2021, featured research from 1412 researchers and 104 impact case studies covering 25 Units of Assessment. Nationally, 157 UK universities took part in REF 2021, submitting around 76,000 staff and 6,700 impact case studies.  

REF 2021 results

REF 2021 results were announced in May 2022, and demonstrated the high quality of the University of Southampton’s published research outputs and real-world impact.

Ninety-two per cent of the University’s submission was classed as ‘world leading’ (4*) or ‘internationally excellent’ (3*), placing Southampton in the top 10 per cent of UK institutions.

Southampton performed exceptionally well in impact. The assessment placed us in the top 10 per cent in the sector and 4th in the Russell Group.

Eighty-nine per cent of the University’s 3,227 submitted outputs were classed as 4* or 3*, placing the University of Southampton’s published research in the top 15 per cent of institutions.

The University’s strategy, resources and infrastructure provide an environment which enables researchers to produce excellent research and impact. Ninety-seven per cent of our environment statements have been classed as 4* or 3*, placing us in the top 25 per cent of the sector.

View the full REF results.

As part of REF 2021, Southampton prepared a Code of Practice for decision-making around staff, outputs and impact. Additionally, the University conducted equality impact assessments to help identify where discrimination may inadvertently occur, concluding the exercise with a final Equality Impact Assessment.

You can find the Code of Practice and the final Equality Impact Assessment below.

REF logo 2021

Code of Practice

The Code of Practice framed our decision-making processes in relation to REF 2021 in the context of the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion, and all relevant legislation. It describes how we determined who was an independent researcher for REF 2021, and the process for selecting outputs.

Download the Code of Practice for REF 2021

Equality Impact Assessment

The REF 2021 equality impact assessments (EIA) helped to identify where discrimination may inadvertently occur, differential impact on particular groups, and where a particular policy or practice has a positive impact on the advancement of equality.

The EIAs include a qualitative analysis of the policies and procedures for the selection of outputs and a quantitative analysis of the protected characteristics of staff with significant responsibility for research who have contributed to the outputs pool. Each of the key stages in the selection of outputs was considered and the findings of the EIAs used to inform the final selection of outputs for submission.

Download the Final Equality Impact Assessment for REF 2021.

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