Waving goodbye to REF 2021

Last week, staff in the Library waved off 12 boxes of books and other publications authored by current and former Durham staff as a final (for now) step in our university’s REF submission. This submission involved a huge commitment from staff across the university, across professional support and academic departments. Colleagues from across Durham University Library and Collections service have been involved in collecting publications, enabling open access and reviewing compliance with REF requirements, supporting Impact case studies and providing support for our poor academic colleagues tasked with drafting Research Environment statements.

Here we provide some brief figures to show some of the effort made to be able to wave off the final boxes one sunny morning last week…

What is the REF?

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is a national exercise assessing the quality research and research environments at institutions across the UK. It runs roughly every 7 years, and is used to allocate how government funding of research is allocated to universities. For Durham, it provides a significant income stream to support activity across the university.

It is submitted as several distinct sections, covering who our research staff are, the economic and societal impact of our research, the research environment we provide, and the quality of our research outputs (publications).

Team effort

Putting the submission together required huge amounts of work from colleagues across the university, coordinated and led by academic colleagues and Research & Innovation Services.

The Library is involved with ensuring all of the publications selected by academic departments for inclusion in the REF (a showcase of some of the best research Durham has produced over previous years) are successfully received by the assessment panels, and meet all of the (often confusing) requirements around open access and descriptive metadata. Here are some of the headline figures of what that involved between January and March 2021:

After all of that, the big red (actually yellow) submit button was pressed during Provost Board on Monday 22nd March, and 3 weeks later we arranged (with the support of Postal & Delivery Services – thanks!) for a van to collect the items we have to submit physically and deliver these down the M1 to Bristol.

Sarah wishing the REF submission a safe send of, before a celebratory coffee in The White Church.

Most of the work is now done; its not quite all there, with the potential for panel questions and audit queries, requests for impact underpinning evidence, and then we have receive the books delivered back… but for now, at least we have confirmation that all was received as planned in Bristol!

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