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Submission system

The information on this page was published whilst the exercise was being conducted; this material is provided for background information only and will not be updated.

Latest FAQs (July 2013)

How should the PDF files which are to be uploaded to the submission system be named? Should this be in line with the naming convention used in RAE 2008?
Institutions do not need to follow a naming convention for PDF files they upload to the submission system. When PDF files are uploaded, the REF system will automatically save files according to the REF naming convention.

Previous FAQs

I have tried to retrieve a citation count for a research output and get the result 'journal not indexed'. Can Scopus add this journal to their coverage so that I can retrieve a citation count?
Scopus has a Content Selection and Advisory Board which advises Elsevier on new journals which should be added to the database. Further details on the criteria which the Board uses to consider new material can be found on the Scopus website ( It is unlikely that the request to add new journals to the Scopus database will be resolved within the REF submission phase and therefore a citation count will not be returned. This does not preclude an institution from including the research output in their REF submission.
I have waited three weeks after adding my journal articles’ DOIs to the submission system and there is still no data within the report 'Journal articles REF have been unable to retrieve'. Why is this?

In this instance there are two reasons why the report 'Journal articles REF have been unable to retrieve' may not contain any data. If within the three week period, outputs have been removed and re-added (for instance by clearing a submission before importing updated data) the submission system will reset the three week count. To enable this report to generate correctly, outputs should not be removed (cleared) and re-added to the submission system three weeks before the report is run.

It is also possible that REF has managed to locate all of the outputs' journal articles within a submission, meaning that none need to be provided. If the submission's outputs and their DOIs have been present within the system for three weeks (i.e. not removed and re-added) this report will show correctly (which may be blank).

I have run the report 'Journal articles REF have been unable to retrieve' but it is only showing a small number of articles. Does this mean that REF have obtained almost all of the journal articles within a submission or is the report malfunctioning?
To ensure that this report is generated correctly and that all outputs of type D and E which need their journal articles supplied are listed, no outputs within that submission should be removed and re-added or have their DOI changed for a period of three weeks before the report is run. If some outputs have been altered in this way the three week count held against them will reset and they will appear on the report later than the outputs which have not been modified.
Why does the submission system not offer the functionality to include formatting such as bold, underline and bullet points within the larger text fields (such as the explanation field within REF1b)?
This functionality was deliberately not included within the REF2014 submission system due to a number of problems which this functionality caused within the 2008 RAE system. It is possible to create a bulleted list in another application such as Word and then paste this in to the submission system. However this is not recommended as the formatting may be altered / lost when the data is extracted from the submission system for assessment. Instead you should make use of standard keyboard characters to create formatting. For example, asterisks(*) can be used to create a bulleted list, and the return key can be used to separate paragraphs.
I am unable to log in to the submission system and have followed the 'forgotten password' link. Why have I not received an email containing a new password?
The submission system will only send a new password to email addresses that are registered within the system. Please check that you have entered your email address in exactly the same way as the administrator who created your account. This situation most frequently occurs when institutions have email accounts that accept email from multiple domains. For example, even if an email account receives mail from both and You will only be able to log in to the submission system with the exact email address that your institution's administrator registered to your account during its creation. If your administrator has created your account with an incorrect email address, you should ask them to change it for you.
I am unable to log in to the submission system and have followed the 'forgotten password' link. I have received a new password via email, however I am still unable to log in.

If you are unable to log in to the submission system using the password which has been sent to you via email, it is likely that your account is locked. This occurs when an incorrect password has been entered three or more times. In this instance you should contact your institution's administrator to unlock your account. Once your account has been unlocked you may then log in to the submission system using the last password which you requested from the system.

Alternatively your account may have expired. If your administrator reports that your account is not locked, ask them to check the expiry date which they set when your account was created.

My account is locked. How can I access the submission system?
If your account has become locked, you must contact one of your institution's administrators and ask them to unlock it for you. If you are an administrator you must contact another administrator to get them to unlock your account. The REF team strongly recommend that each institution has more than one administrator account present for this reason.
I do not have an account to access the submission system. Can you create an account for me?
REF support and the REF team are unable to create user accounts. To obtain an account you should contact your system administrator within your institution. If you do not know who this is you should contact your institution's designated REF contact.
Where can I find a list of all validation rules present within the submission system?
A list of all validation rules which the submission system contains is available.
Why has the submission system not imported any data from my Excel import file despite the import job completing successfully with no errors?
The most common reason for this occurring is due to the sheets within the Excel import being named incorrectly. If the import file has been created without using our template (available under 'submission system data requirements') you must name the file's sheets to match those in our template. The default sheet names (sheet1, sheet2, sheet3) prevent the submission system from locating any data. Therefore, although the file is 'successfully' processed, no records are imported.
Why has the submission system only imported a single output record within REF2 when my import file contains many output records?
This occurs when all output records have been given the same output identifier within the import file. In this case, instead of creating a separate output record for each output, the submission system will create the first output record, and then subsequently overwrite that record repeatedly until the import process has completed. To avoid this, each output should be given a unique output identifier.
Why is the submission system creating new outputs each time my import file is modified and re-imported?
This is occurring because the output records within your import file do not contain output identifiers. When the import file is modified and re-imported, the submission system uses the output's identifier to detect that it is already present. When it detects an output is already present, it overwrites it rather than creating a new one. To resolve this, outputs should be given output identifiers.
After running an import job, the status is shown as completed with validation errors; however none of my data is present within the submission system.
Because of the validation errors found, the submission system has not added the import data to your submissions - the data has been rolled back instead. In order to add data that contains validation errors you should select 'Allow data to be imported even if there are validation errors' when setting up the import job.
During import, why do I repeatedly receive the error message 'The institution code is invalid'?
You have entered an incorrect institution code. The 'institution' field must contain your institution's UKPRN (UK Provider Reference Number). This is provided by the UKRLP (UK Register of Learning Providers). Your institution's UKPRN can be obtained by visiting: and searching for your institution.
I have entered a staff member with less than four outputs and have completed REF1b: Individual staff circumstances. Why is the submission system still warning me that the staff member has an unexpected number of outputs?
The submission system will always display this warning when a staff member is linked to fewer than four outputs. The warning is intended to prompt users to check that fewer than four outputs may be submitted without penalty. Provided that the REF1b section has been filled out correctly, this warning can be ignored.
I have already imported my institution's part of a joint submission within a regular submission and am now trying to convert this to a joint submission by accepting an invitation from another institution. Why am I receiving an error message stating: 'You have attempted to accept the invitation to join a joint submission but, in addition to the joint submission created by the other institution who invited you to join, you have created your own submission to the same UOA'?
It is only possible to convert a regular submission to a joint submission if all common forms (RG, REF3a, REF3b and REF5) are empty. After removing any data present within these forms you should be able to accept the invitation. This will convert the regular submission into a joint submission
When creating an output record, why is the submission system informing me that the ISSN I have provided is not in the standard ISSN format even though I am sure it is correct?
There are some ISSNs that do not conform to the standard. Due to this the submission system will allow you to submit with an ISSN that appears to be incorrect. Providing you are certain that the ISSN entered is correct, you can ignore this warning.
I have submitted a request for a bulk citation retrieval / bulk CrossRef lookup and the job has been pending for a long period of time. Why is this happening?
Both the bulk citation retrieval and bulk CrossRef service rely on external systems provided by other companies (Elsevier and CrossRef) to function. During busy times these external systems may have large queues to process, consisting of requests from both the submission system and other systems. Once your request reaches the top of the queue, it will be processed. Should you feel for any reason that your request has 'stalled' and has not been processed after a reasonable amount of time, please contact REF user support. 
I would like to clear each submission within our institution before re-importing my institution's updated data. As each output record's PDF needs to be added manually, will I have to manually re-add these each time after the submissions are cleared?
No. When a PDF is uploaded for an output record, the submission system links it to that output record's output identifier. This means that even if an entire submission is cleared and then re-imported, the uploaded PDFs will remain present within each output record. Note that the output records must be re-imported with the same output identifiers. Also, if a submission is deleted rather than cleared, all output PDFs in the submission will also be deleted. Note that REF3a, REF3b and REF5 PDFs will be cleared when a submission is cleared.