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Corroborating evidence for impact case studies

What does this provision cover?  

Institutions are no longer required to upload the corroborating evidence for submitted impact cases studies to the submission system by 1st June 2021, although they may still optionally choose to do so where preferred.  

HEIs may choose whether or not to upload corroborating evidence for each individual impact case study. This means that, within a submission, some impact case studies may have their corroborating evidence uploaded while for others the corroborating evidence is held by the HEI. The assessment of impact will not be affected by HEIs deciding either to upload or retain corroborating evidence. 

What process do we need to follow if we do not want to upload corroborating evidence for an impact case study?  

Where the corroborating evidence for an impact case study is not provided upfront, it should be held by the institution in the event of audit. Where corroborating evidence is not being provided upfront, HEIs do not need to prepare the evidence in a ZIP file. 

What process do we need to follow if we do want to upload corroborating evidence for an impact case study? 

Where HEIs decide to upload the corroborating evidence for an impact case study, all corroborating evidence for that case study must be uploaded to the submission system by 1 June 2021, according to existing guidance (notwithstanding existing exceptions for evidence that is not suitable for PDF format or is classified). This also applies to corroborating evidence being provided upfront for impact case studies that have an agreed extension. 

Do we need to amend the impact case study template to state whether corroborating evidence has been uploaded to the submission system? 

HEIs do not need to outline within the impact case study template whether they have decided to upload or retain the corroborating evidence for that case study. For impact case studies where the corroborating evidence has been uploaded to the submission system, HEIs should make clear within the submitted evidence where any material has been retained by the HEI because it is unsuitable for PDF format or is subject to a security classification. 

Will this affect audit processes for impact? 

Panels are not routinely provided with the corroborating evidence for impact case studies but may instead access this evidence through the audit process, where needed, irrespective of whether it has been uploaded to the submission system or is retained by the HEI. There will be no difference in the volume of audit requests or the assessment of impact on the basis of corroborating evidence having been provided upfront or retained by the HEI. 

Extension request for narrative templates

What does this provision cover? 

Where additional time is needed to finalise parts of submissions due to the effects of COVID-19, requests may be made for an extension to the upload of: 

- either or both of the impact case study templates and unit-level environment template for one or more submissions;

- and/or for the institutional-level environment statement.

Where agreed, extensions for impact case study templates will also apply to the provision of an affected impact case study statement (where applicable). All remaining data requirements in form REF3 must be completed by 31st March submission deadline (see also the guidance on submitting corrections, for information on where any identified errors in these data can be provided after submission). 

Where agreed, extensions for the institutional-level environment statement will also apply to the COVID-19 annex. 

Institutions should state in their request form the date by which all templates can be provided (including, where requested, the institutional-level environment), across the one or more submissions detailed in the request. This date may not be later than noon, 14th May 2021. As the submission system will be unavailable in the first week of April, the extension date should not be earlier than 9th April 2021. Following 9th April 2021, narrative templates should be uploaded when finalised. When this is complete for all remaining templates, confirmation will need to be emailed to the REF team. This process may be completed in advance of the agreed extension date. 

Any requested extensions will be optional to apply; HEIs may still submit templates at the submission deadline (31st March 2021). Where any templates are submitted at this point, these documents may not be subsequently replaced or edited even if an extension has been agreed.  

How does it apply to joint submissions? 

Where an extension is needed for either or both of the case studies and environment template for a joint submission, this should be discussed and agreed with all partners in the joint submission. The request will need to be submitted by the lead institution. This request should be included in a single form along with any further extension requests being made by the lead institution (including for the institutional-level environment statement). The joint submission should not be included in any other extension request being made by the partner institution(s).  

What’s the process for requesting an extension? 

To request an extension for uploading narrative templates in one or more submissions, HEIs will need to complete a request form. The form can be accessed via the link below.  

Requests should be made with authority from one of the HEI’s identified authorised submitters. Any updates on, and confirmation of submitted requests will be provided by email to the authorised submitter who is named as responsible for making the request. These emails will also be copied to the institution’s REF main and technical contact. 

Only one form should be returned per institution, including details for all submissions in which an extension is requested.  

A form may be submitted at any point between now and the request deadline. Forms will be reviewed on a rolling basis and the outcome will typically be provided within one week. Confirmation of form submission will be given via the survey link. The REF team will not be able to provide additional confirmation; however, an email update will be provided when the form is under review. 

The deadline for requesting an extension is noon, 5th March 2021. However, should circumstances change for an HEI following 5th March, they should contact the REF team at as soon as possible and in advance of the submission deadline.

Please click here to access the extension request form for submitting delayed narrative templates: 

Please click here to access guidance on the submission system for the upload of delayed narrative templates.

Corrections period for errors identified after 31 March 2021

Following the submission deadline on 31st March 2021, there will be a six-week period in which HEIs may provide any corrections to errors identified in the submitted data.  This will also include adjustments to staff data held by Research England from the HESA staff return.  

Data corrections will need to be submitted to the REF team via the audit system. To facilitate this, we will open an audit ticket for each HEI shortly after the submission deadline, and email the HEI’s audit contact to notify them of the ticket ID.  Any requests for changes should then be made using the audit ticket. Where no corrections are required, the email and ticket can be disregarded.

Data amendments agreed via the below processes will be applied to the submission database in the period following 14th May deadline. Following this stage, HEIs will be able to view the corrected data through the submission system.

Data corrections should be submitted as described below. 

Corrections to submitted data:  

  • HEIs should initially indicate on the audit ticket that they wish to make one or more submissions data corrections. The audit team will provide a blank template in Excel format for completion.  
  • Corrections may only be submitted for certain fields. A full list of the fields in the REF submission system and details of where corrections may be submitted are provided in the document below.  
  • Information required for each change will include the submission identifier, REF form (e.g. REF3), the record identifier (e.g. the case study identifier), the field to be changed (e.g. Name of funders) and the corrected or new value for the field.  
  • Submitted corrections in any given field must match the data type and meet the validation rules for that field.  
  • Completed templates must be provided to the REF team via the audit system by noon, 14th May 2021. The template may be returned when it is complete at any point during this six-week period. Where an HEI identifies further corrections after the template has been returned, they may return a new version of the completed template up until noon, 14th May 2021. However, for the avoidance of doubt, the audit team will only accept updates from the last template that is returned before the deadline, and this should therefore contain all required changes.  Any completed templates returned after the deadline will be disregarded.  
  • The audit team will provide a sign-off form for the corrections data.  This form must be signed off by an authorised submitter, and must be dated on or after the last template that is returned before the deadline.  The audit team will not action any corrections until the signed form is received from the HEI. 
  • The audit team will verify each change and confirm back to the HEI whether the data can be changed or not. Where any corrections are not accepted, the audit team will provide a brief explanation of the reason for declining the change. 
  • As with all REF submissions data, all corrected data need to be verifiable.  Corrections accepted through this process may still therefore be verified in audit, and HEIs should keep appropriate audit evidence. 

Please click here to access field-level detail on corrections.

Adjustments to staff data from HESA:  

We recognise the increased time between the deadline for submitting the HESA staff return and the REF submission deadline may lead to differences between the REF submitted and HESA staff data. To improve the accuracy of data provided to the panels and to reduce the risk of discrepancies identified during the audit period, HEIs may submit data amendments for specified fields during the six-week period after the submission deadline. 

Amendments may be submitted for data items in the HESA staff dataset that are used to produce the standard analyses for the panels. This includes ‘REFUOA2021’ and ‘ECRSTAT’. HEIs may also identify any errors in the identification of Category A eligible staff as calculated from the HESA staff return.  

Standard analyses reports drawing on the HESA staff data held by Research England will be available in the submission system in February. As previously indicated, we will provide the standard analyses to the panels only following completion of staff data adjustments. 

  • To submit amendments, HEIs should initially indicate on the audit ticket that they wish to review and/or make changes to their HESA data. The audit team will provide a copy of the relevant fields for all Category A eligible staff from the HEI’s HESA staff data in Excel format. An example spreadsheet is available below. The data items that may be amended are shown in green on the example spreadsheet. 
  • HEIs should make adjustments as required and return the completed spreadsheet to the REF team via the audit system by noon, 14th May 2021. 
  • Submitted corrections in any given field must match the data type and meet the validation rules for that field. 
  • Note that this process will change the HESA staff data held in the REF submission system only. This process will not change institutions’ submitted data to HESA. 
  • All corrected data needs to be verifiable.  Corrections accepted through this process may still therefore be verified in audit, and HEIs should keep appropriate audit evidence.  

Please click here to access HESA amendments data.


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