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The invitation to make submissions to the REF 2021 has now been updated. Please click here to view the updated letter.

1. I am writing to set out the arrangements for making submissions to the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF). 

 Process for making the submission 

 2. Each institution’s submission to REF 2021 must be made electronically through the online REF submission system. We have now officially launched the submission systemand all REF forms are now available for data entry. The deadline for submissions is noon on 27 November 2020. 

3. Your institution’s submission must be made by one of the two authorised submitters that you have nominated and provided us with details for. These individuals (one of whom may be you) are authorised to make the submission on your behalf, and to confirm the accuracy of the data it contains. They should also be prepared to confirm that in preparing the submission, the institution has applied its code of practice that has been approved by the funding body. 

4. When the final submission has been made it will be held at Research England on behalf of the four UK funding bodies. We will send an email to both of your authorised submitters and to your institutional REF contact to confirm receipt of the submission. 

5. If after submitting, but before the 27 November 2020 deadline, you discover errors in your submission, your authorised submitters will be able to ‘unsubmit’ in order to correct data errors. We will provide full instructions to authorised submitters and institutional REF contacton how to submit through the submission system. 

6. All submitted information must be capable of verification. The arrangements for audit and verification of submissions are available at 

7. In making a submission, your authorised submitter will be required to confirm that the funding bodies may use the data for assessment, for subsequent funding calculations and for publication. Information about arrangements for storing and processing the submitted data, including the confidentiality arrangements for panel members and procedures for excluding confidential or sensitive parts of submissions from publication, is available in the following publications: 

a. We have provided model REF data collection statements for HEIs to use to inform their staff and non-staff stakeholders how their personal data will be used in REF 2021. Note that this document has recently been updated. 

b. The Confidentiality and information security agreement for REF 2021 panels can be found at Annex E of the Panel criteria and working methods. 

c. Procedures for excluding confidential or sensitive parts of submissions from publication are described in paragraphs 261-264, 307 and 308 of the Guidance on submissions.  

8. Information about the publication of results and submissions is available at paragraphs 34-43 of the Guidance on submissions. Please note that those published parts of submissions that contain factual data and textual information about research activity will be licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence (CC-BY 4.0). 

Amending details of authorised submitters 

9. To amend the details of your institution’s authorised submitters, you will need to resubmit the authorised submitter form. Forms should be emailed to you need to amend authorised submitter details ahead of the 6 March 2020 deadline for making staff circusmtances reductions requests, please provide the form by 24 February 2020. If you need to amend authorised submitter details before the final submission deadline on 27 November 2020, please provide the form by 20 November 2020. 

10. Please note, this form is not available to download. It was sent to Heads of Institutions via email on 30 July 2019. Please also note, the email address provided for authorised submitters must match the email address that the individual uses to log in to the REF submission system. 

Arrangements for providing final copies of codes of practice and equality impact assessments, and the staff circumstances report 

11. The funding bodies have approved all institutions’ codes of practice on the identification of staff with significant responsibility for research, determining who is an independent researcher, and the selection of outputs. The codes of practice are due to be published on the REF website shortly. We will require institutions to provide us with the final version of their code, suitable for publication, after submissions have been made in early 2021. 

12. Also in early 2021, institutions will also be required to provide us with the final version of their equality impact assessment (EIA) on their policy and procedures for submitting to REF 2021, and a report reflecting on their experience of supporting staff with circumstances during the REF submission process 

13. Further details about the arrangements for providing these documents are set out at Annex A. This includes a template for the staff circumstances report. 

 Staff circumstances 

14. For REF 2021, institutions are able to submit staff circumstances reduction requests for consideration in advance of the submission deadline. These are requests for reductions (without penalty) to the number of outputs required for a given submitted unit. The advance process will provide HEIs with the opportunity to receive decisions prior to making submissions in REF 2021. 

15. Requests should be made by noon on 6 March 2020 through the REF 2021 submission system. Decisions on these requests will be provided to institutions by 29 May 2020. 

16. In applying the reductions that have received advance recommendation for approval from EDAP at the submission deadline, institutions must ensure that these reductions still accurately reflect the circumstances pertaining to submitted staff. Where there are changes to the staff included in requests or the nature of their circumstances since the request was made, institutions must update the information in the REF 6a/b forms before making their submissions in November 2020. 

17. If you have any queries about any of the information contained in this letter please contact