You need cookies enabled to use this website.
For the current REF, see the REF 2029 website | For REF 2014, see the REF 2014 website
You need cookies enabled

The guidance in this document has been revised in response to the effects of COVID-19. Please click here to see an overview of all changes to timeframes, along with additional published guidance and details of contingency plans for REF 2021.

Executive summary


1. This document describes the approaches and methods that will be used to provide assurance that data submitted to the REF are accurate, verifiable and robust.

Key points

2. The aim of the REF audit and data verification process is to give assurance that the data submitted by HEIs as part of the REF exercise are accurate and reliable. By enabling panels to make assessments based on accurate data, this will provide confidence in the outcomes of the REF exercise.

3. The approach to verifying submissions and the level of scrutiny applied will be proportionate to the scale of the REF exercise and the need to assure the accuracy of submitted data.

4. This audit guidance covers the full scope of audit for REF 2021, including the approach to auditing compliance with the REF open access (OA) policy. Institutions should ensure they satisfy themselves on the accuracy of the information they submit, and should also maintain accurate records enabling them to verify this information.

Action required

5. This document is for information and to inform institutions about the principles and processes that the REF will use to verify the accuracy of submitted data. No action is required by HEIs at this stage.

Further information

6. Enquiries from members of staff at UK HEIs should be directed in the first instance to their institutional REF contact:

7. Other enquiries should be addressed to