Research Excellence Framework

Research Excellence Framework

We measure up. We're eighth in the UK for research power.

What is the Research Excellence Framework (REF)?

The REF is the system used by the four UK higher education funding bodies to assess research quality in UK universities. Based on the results from this assessment, these organisations then allocate research funding, with roughly £2 billion allocated annually.

The four funding bodies that use the REF are Research England, the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) and the Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland (DfE).

Privacy Notice for REF2021 Evidence Collection 

Personal data provided to the University of Nottingham (UoN) for the purposes of evidencing research impact or environment, as part of the REF2021 assessment, will be held only for the duration of the REF2021 assessment. Once the assessment period is complete (at the end of April 2022) any personal data will be anonymised and deleted from UoN systems.   

The lawful processing purpose relied on is Public Task.  

Information will be shared beyond the University with UK Higher Education funding bodies as per the data collection statement which can be found here.

For more information on how the University processes personal data please see our full privacy notices.

REF2021 Code of Practice

REF2021 code of practice

It is a requirement that every institution making a REF submission needs to develop, document and apply a code of practice for REF2021, including:

  • the fair and transparent identification of staff with significant responsibility for research where a higher education institute (HEI) is not submitting 100% of eligible staff
  • determining who is an independent researcher
  • the selection of research outputs, including approaches to supporting staff with circumstances

The University of Nottingham has developed our REF code of practice through a consultative process and submitted it to Research England on 7 June 2019. 

The University has decided to return 100% of eligible Category A staff to REF2021 and therefore identification of staff with significant responsibility for research does not form part of our REF2021 code.

Invitations for voluntary declaration of personal circumstances will be sent out during the week commencing 24 June 2019.

Download the University of Nottingham REF2021 Code of Practice

Definition of Category A staff

As per REF guidance on submissions, paragraph 117, Category A eligible staff are defined as academic staff:

  • with a contract of employment of 0.2 FTE or greater, on the payroll of the submitting institution on the census date
  • whose primary employment function is to undertake either ‘research only’ or ‘teaching and research’

Staff employed on minimum fractional contracts (0.20 to 0.29 FTE) on the census date should have a substantive research connection with the submitting unit in addition to meeting the bullet points 1 and 2 above to be Category A eligible staff.

Staff on ‘research only’ contracts should meet the definition of an independent researcher in addition to bullet points 1 and 2 above to be category A eligible staff.



Our latest REF rankings

The University of Nottingham is ranked eighth in the UK in terms of research power, which measures the quality and quantity of research conducted by an institution.

  • More than 97% of research at the University is recognised internationally, with wide-ranging impacts on society, the economy, health and welfare, culture, public policy and the environment
  • More than 80% of The University of Nottingham research is ranked in the highest categories (world-leading and internationally excellent)
  • In 16 of 29 units we submitted returns for, we feature in the UK top ten by research power

REF top 10

Top 10 universities ranked by research power
2014 rankOrganisation
2 Oxford
3 Cambridge
4 Edinburgh
5 Manchester
6 Kings College London
7 Imperial College London
8 Nottingham
9 Bristol
10 Leeds

Visit the Research Excellence Framework website


World-class research at the University of Nottingham

University Park
+44 (0) 115 951 5151

Athena Swan Silver Award