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Department of Plant Sciences


The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the UK's system for assessing the excellence of research in higher education institutions. It informs the selective allocation of funding for the research priorities of the University and support of key institutional initiatives (which equates to approximately £1.6 billion per year). The importance of the REF to the financial sustainability of the University should not therefore be underestimated.

The REF is a process of expert review, carried out by panels made up of senior academics, international members, and research users for each of the 34 subject-based units of assessment (UOAs). Assessments take place every 6 years and submissions for the next one are due in November 2020. Each submission will have three distinct elements that are assessed: the quality of outputs (e.g. publications, performances, and exhibitions), their impact beyond academia, and the environment that supports research.

For REF2021 the Department of Plant Sciences will be making a submission to UOA5. As part of the preparations for the submission the University is required to develop a Code of Practice that frames the decision-making processes within the context of the principles of equality and diversity and all relevant legislation.

 It details the key policy decisions on:

  • the fair and transparent identification of staff with significant responsibility for research
  • determining who is an independent researcher
  • the selection of outputs.

The University-level Code of Practice is to be read and understood alongside Unit of Assessment-level Criteria and Working Methods. These documents describe the processes and principles that will govern all Units of Assessment as they prepare their submissions.