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The open call for nominations to the REF panels has now closed and the panels are finalising their appointments. Where any gaps in expertise remain, for which no suitable nominations were received, we will seek to fill these gaps via a targeted approach.

Following the decision in March 2020 to put the REF on hold for an interim period, the four UK funding bodies have announced the recommencement of the exercise from 31 July 2020 with the revised date for REF submissions of noon, 31 March 2021.

Nominations of candidates to the role of member or assessor to the REF expert panels are invited by noon, 7 September 2020. Where possible and appropriate, nominating bodies are invited to submit nominations before this date.

The previous deadline for nominations was 3 April 2020, which was lifted when the funding bodies decided to put the REF on hold in response to the effects of COVID-19.

We are inviting nominating bodies to submit nominations in advance of the 7 September deadline, where possible and appropriate, in light of revisions to the framework and the likely additional pressures on potential panel members’ time and availability due to COVID-19. This will allow sub-panel executives to review nominations on a rolling basis and therefore to better understand the remaining areas where nominees with specific expertise may be required.

The four UK funding bodies are inviting nominations for further members and assessors for the REF sub-panels. This invitation follows the panels’ analysis of their expertise requirements, in view of data provided by higher education institutions on their submission intentions. Further appointments will ensure each sub-panel has an appropriate breadth of expertise and volume of panel members necessary for the assessment of REF submissions. Sub-panels will consider new nominations alongside candidates nominated in 2017, but not appointed at that stage.

Nominations are invited from any association or organisation with an interest in the conduct, quality, funding or use of research (except individual UK HEIs, groups within or subsidiaries of individual HEIs, and HE mission groups).

The deadline for nominations has now passed.  Queries should be directed

See the list of nominating bodies for details about the associations or organisations the REF team has listed to send information to about nominations.If your organisation is an eligible body not listed in the above, and wishes to be included for future communications regarding REF panel nominations, please contact

Equality and diversity

The funding bodies are seeking nominations of candidates from a diverse range of backgrounds, institution types and geographical region. We particularly welcome nominations of candidates from under-represented groups, including people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.

We recognise that diversity of perspective and experience contributes fundamental insight and value to the work of the REF panels, and that this insight and value comes not only from academic achievement but also from other aspects of panel members’ lives. We have introduced several measures to the recruitment process for panel members, which are aimed at increasing the representativeness of the REF panel membership. This reflects the funding bodies’ wider commitment to supporting equality and diversity in research careers. 

Contextual data

Nominating bodies may find it helpful to refer to the contextual data we made available for the first round of nominations, relating to academic staff in the UK, split by age, gender, ethnicity and disability. 

Download PDFs of the data files 

Guidance on making nominations

Guidance for nominating bodies on how to make nominations is available in an infographic, which may be downloaded below. This is accompanied by information about the specific areas of expertise being sought for each sub-panel.

Please note the nomination deadline is noon, 7 September 2020. Nominating bodies are encouraged to submit nominations in advance of this date where possible.

The revised timeframe for the assessment work by the panels is May 2021 to February 2022. A revised schedule of meetings is currently in development. Nominees should be willing and able to undertake the volume of assessment activity corresponding to their nominated role on the panel during period May 2021 to February 2022.

Download information about the specific areas of expertise being sought for each sub-panel

Sub-panel expertise requirements - updated 17.03.2020 (253 KB)

Nominations must be made online through the nominations form:

A summary of the information required in the form is available below. We have also provided a Word version of the nominations form for information purposes only. Please do not submit nominations using the Word version of the form.

Download the summary of information required in the nomination form

Summary of information required in the nomination form - updated 04.03.2020 (125 KB)

Download the REF 2021 nominations form as a Word document

REF 2021 Nominations form - updated 04.03.2020 (55 KB)

All nominating bodies are required to provide information about how equality and diversity issues were taken into account in the processes followed to identify nominees. We have provided a template for this purpose, which can be accessed below. Organisations which submitted nominations in 2017 for the first round of appointments, and who provided this information in full as part of their submission at that point, and are not required to do so again.

Download the updated Nominating bodies Equality & Diversity template

Updated Nominating bodies E&D template (25 KB)

Further information about nominations and appointments

Research users’ expertise and their experience of working with research and researchers play a vital role on the REF panels, in evaluating the reach and significance of research impacts beyond academia.

We have been working with each main panel to consider the workload requirements of the impact assessor role, and ensure an even approach to this is adopted across its sub-panels. We have updated our Guide for research users on taking part in the REF for this round of nominations, including an estimate of the time commitment.

The criteria for appointing further panel members and assessors have been updated for this round of appointments. Further detailed information on the roles of panel members can be found in the publication Roles and recruitment of the expert panels (REF2017/03)

Previous round of nominations to the REF 2021 panels (2017)

In 2017, nominations were invited for members that command the confidence of the academic community and wider stakeholders. We sought nominations for: 

  • additional main panel members (with expertise of leading, commissioning or making use of interdisciplinary research, leading research internationally, or senior level experience in the commissioning, use or wider benefits of research)
  • sub-panel members and assessors (including practising researchers, individuals with expertise in commissioning, applying or making use of research, and interdisciplinary advisers).

There was no limit on the number of individuals that each association or organisation can nominate, and we encouraged nominating bodies to consider a wide range of individuals to cover the full breadth of their research interests.