Individual staff circumstances (REF1b)
Further FAQs relating to individual staff circumstances can be found on ECU's web-site.
Latest FAQs (October 2013)
A reduction of two outputs for junior clinical academic staff who have not gained their Certificate of Completion of Training takes account of significant constraints on research work, and is normally sufficient to also take account of additional circumstances that may have affected the individual's research work (including ECR status). Where a junior clinical academic also qualified as an ECR between August 2009 and July 2011 a reduction of two outputs would generally be considered sufficient. If you wish to return the individual with an output reduction of more than two, this should be returned via the complex route with clear explanation as to why a greater reduction would be justified.
If a junior clinical academic staff member first satisfied the definition of an ECR on or after 1 August 2011, they would be eligible for a reduction of 3 outputs as an ECR.
Where an individual works or worked part-time for a number of HEIs, then each of the HEIs submitting the individual will need to calculate if they are entitled to a reduction in outputs. A reduction in outputs may be made for the amount of time (calculated in months) in which the individual was not working in the HE sector, over the whole of the REF period. A reduction may not be made on the basis that the individual worked part-time at other HEIs.
Each HEI returning the individual (with a fractional FTE) will need to submit the number of outputs required of that individual. The same outputs may, but need not be, listed in each HEI's submission.
If individual circumstances apply to the individual, the number of outputs may be reduced in all submissions in which the individual is returned. If research outputs are 'missing' without a qualifying individual circumstance, the 'missing' outputs will be recorded as 'unclassified'.
An individual has worked 0.5FTE at HEI A, and 0.3FTE at HEI B, for the whole of the REF period (1 January 2008, up to the census date 31 Octo0ber 2013). The individual did not work at any other HEI for the remaining 0.2FTE.
The number of outputs may be reduced as follows:
- 70 months working in HE at a total of 0.8FTE
- The equivalent number of months 'absent' from HE = 70 x 0.2FTE = 14 months 'absent'
- This entitles the individual to a reduction of 1 output.
HEI A may return the individual at 0.5FTE, in which case 3 outputs are required.
HEI B may return the individual at 0.3FTE, in which case 3 outputs are required.
HEI A and HEI B may, but need not, list the same outputs.
For the purpose of identifying an individual as an early career researcher (ECR) in form REF1a: Staff details, the individual must first satisfy the definition of an ECR on or after 1 August 2009 (see paragraphs 85 – 87 of 'guidance on submissions').
For the purpose of calculating output reductions in form REF1b, you should consider the date that the individual started their career as an independent researcher, according to the criteria at paragraph 85a-b of the 'guidance on submissions'. This may be at any point within the REF period, and should be considered the date at which they first met the definition of an ECR.
If an individual first met the definition of an ECR before 1 August 2009 and this is the only circumstance for the individual, Table 1, Part 1 of the 'panel criteria' applies, and the individual is not entitled to a reduction in outputs.
If an individual met the definition of an ECR before 1 August 2009 and other circumstances also apply, the number of months from 1 January 2008 up to the point the individual became an ECR can be combined with the other circumstances. In this case, Table 2, Part 1 of the 'panel criteria' applies to the total number of months 'absent'.
An individual first started their career as an independent researcher on 1 September 2008 and then worked part-time at 0.5 FTE from 1 July 2010 – 30 June 2011. A reduction of 1 output is allowed:
|No. of months prior to ECR status||=||8|
|No. of months 'absent' due to part-time working||=||12 x 0.5FTE = 6|
|Total no. of months 'absent'||=||14 (reduction of 1 output)|
Please also see ECU's worked complex circumstances, example 4.
The calculation method used in the example above should be applied when combining ECR status with other circumstances and supersedes the method used in example 12 of ECU’s worked complex circumstances.
There are worked examples of complex circumstances published on the ECU web-site. These worked examples indicate the kind of information that should be provided and how it should be presented.
As far as practicable, an estimate should be provided of the equivalent number of months absent from work. Sufficient information should be provided to show how this was calculated, by stating the nature of the circumstance(s), the period(s) of time affected and the equivalent number of months absent for each period affected.
Any further constraints on the individual’s research work in addition to the equivalent months absent should also be explained (for example, constraints on research while at work). Sufficient detail should be provided to understand the overall effect on the individual's capacity to carry out research, by outlining the nature of the constraint(s), the proportion of their research capacity that was reduced, and the length of time affected.
- An individual had time off work due to ill health and no further constraints after returning to work. REF1b need only state what the illness was, when the individual was off work, and the equivalent number of months absent.
- An individual had time off work due to ill health, and after returning to work had limited capacity to pursue their research due to ongoing effects of the illness. REF1b should include the information as above, and in addition state what the ongoing effect of the illness was on their capacity to carry out research, and provide an estimate of the proportional reduction in their research capacity and the length of time to which this applied.
REF1b should also show how the reduction in outputs has been calculated, according to Table 2 of the 'panel criteria' in relation to estimated months absent from work, with further constraints taken into account as appropriate.
All information should be anonymous so that EDAP can review complex circumstances anonymously. Where the circumstance has involved other individuals (for example, where the member of staff cared for a relative), those individuals should not be named and it is not necessary to specify their exact relationship to the member of staff.
'Substantially' means that the majority or a substantial portion of the maternity leave was taken in this period. For example, an individual who went on maternity leave in June 2007 and returned in January 2008, or an individual who goes on maternity leave in October 2013 due to return during 2014, would not be considered to have taken maternity leave substantially within the REF period. Given that periods of such leave vary, a more precise definition cannot be given, and institutions will need to exercise their judgement.
The following additional guidance was added in October 2012:
In reaching these judgements, institutions should also consider how to treat staff whose maternity leave was taken partially within the REF period fairly, in comparison to staff whose maternity leave was taken entirely within the REF period. For the latter group of staff, there is no minimum qualifying length for maternity leave, and each period of such leave qualifies for the reduction of one output. Therefore, we consider it would be fair to allow the reduction of an output for a period of maternity leave that started prior to 1 January 2008 and continued for any length of time beyond that date, where the member of staff had been submitted to the 2008 RAE without any reduction in output due to that maternity leave.
For clearly defined circumstances, the explanation field of REF1b should be used to state what each of the circumstances was and when it occurred, to show how the reduction in outputs was calculated, and to provide enough information about the circumstances to enable the sub-panels to confirm that the criteria for output reductions have been met. The following specific details should be provided for each type of circumstance:
- For early career researchers, provide brief details of the individual’s research career history, specifically identifying the point at which they first met the REF definition of an early career researcher. It is important to state why the individual did not, prior to that point, meet the definition of an early career researcher. This could be either by stating the nature of their contract (which did not meet the definition at paragraph 85a of ‘guidance on submissions'), or by outlining how their work did not include independent research.
- For part-time working, provide the start and end dates and the FTE for each period in which the individual worked part-time, and state the equivalent ‘months absent’ for each period. These must be ‘absences’ in which the individual was neither working in the higher education sector, nor undertaking academic research at some other organisation (see this FAQ).
- For secondments and career breaks, provide the start and end dates, and state the equivalent ‘months absent’ for each period. Provide sufficient information about the career break or secondment (for example, the name of the organisation seconded to and the job role) to confirm that the individual was neither working in the higher education sector nor undertaking academic research.
- For maternity, paternity or adoption leave, state the start and end dates of each period of such leave.
Where multiple circumstances have been combined to calculate a reduction in outputs, the explanation should clearly show that where circumstances have overlapped, only one circumstance has been taken into account for that period.
The reduction for part-time working applies only to time ‘absent’ in which the individual was neither working in the higher education sector, nor undertaking academic research at some other organisation. This is consistent with the allowances for secondments and career breaks.
Time spent working part-time in higher education, whether on an academic or non-academic contract, and whether in a UK or overseas HEI, does not qualify as an ‘absence’ when calculating reductions due to part-time working.
Information on clearly defined circumstances will be available to the panel secretariat and panel members.
Information on complex circumstances will be provided only to the Equality and Diversity Advisory Panel (EDAP), the REF team and main panel chairs. Sub-panels and the secretariat will be informed that there are complex circumstances and of the decision on the number of outputs to assess, but they will not have access to any information about the nature of the circumstances.
To further maintain confidentiality, EDAP will review complex circumstances in anonymous form, where they are submitted by institutions in this form. Institutions are advised to complete the REF1b form for complex circumstances, without stating the individual's name or other personal identifiers.
The calculations should be made according to the guidance at paragraphs 72-75, 80 and 82-84 of the ‘panel criteria’. The final sentence of paragraph 82 should be applied as follows: For all clearly defined circumstances to which Table 2 applies, the total ‘months absent’ should be added together, and the reduction for these circumstances calculated by applying Table 2 to the combined total. Any further reductions should then be applied due to qualifying periods of maternity, adoption or additional paternity leave.
The REF submissions system will provide a calculator function to determine the maximum reduction in outputs for combinations of clearly defined circumstances, based on the data entered about these circumstances. Some worked examples are provided below.
An individual working part-time at 0.8 FTE from 1 Jan 08 – 30 April 09 and part-time at 0.6 FTE from 1 May 09 – 30 April 11 would be eligible for a reduction of 1 output:
|0.2 x 16 months||=||3.2 months absence|
|0.4 x 24 months||=||9.6 months absence|
|Total||=||12.8 months absent (reduction of 1 output)|
An individual took a career break outside of the HE sector from 1 Sep 09 – 31 Aug 10, then returned to research part-time at 0.5 FTE from 1 Sep 10 to 31 Aug 12. They would be eligible for a reduction of 1 output:
|12 months career break|
|0.5 x 24 months||=||12 months absence for working part-time|
|Total||=||24 months absent (reduction of 1 output)|
An individual takes a 6 month period of maternity leave and then returns to works part-time at 0.4 FTE from 1 Mar 12 until the census date. The individual would be eligible for a reduction of 2 outputs:
|12 months absent (reduction of 1 output)|
|+ 1 period of maternity leave (reduction of 1 further output)|
|Total||=||(Reduction of 2 outputs)|
An individual qualified as an ECR on 1 Mar 2010, and worked part-time at 0.6 FTE from 1 May 2012 until the census date. They would be eligible for a reduction of 2 outputs:
|26 months ‘absence’ before qualifying as an ECR|
|0.4 x 18 months||=||7.2 months absence for working part-time|
|Total||=||33.2 months absent (reduction of 2 outputs)|
Following publication of the final panel criteria and working methods, the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) will publish worked examples of complex staff circumstances, including EDAP's recommendations on these hypothetical cases. This is intended to provide clear indications to HEIs about the operation of the arrangements for complex circumstances. Following publication of these examples, HEI will be able to suggest further hypothetical examples for publication by ECU, to add to the range of published examples.
The ‘Panel criteria and working methods’ was published in February 2012.
Examples of complex staff circumstances are available on the ECU web-site.