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Individual staff circumstances data

Information submitted (in REF1b) about individual staff circumstances may be sensitive and we have put in place the following arrangements for the confidential disclosure and processing of such data.

The Data Protection Act 1998 requires HEIs to comply with a number of important principles regarding privacy and disclosure when handling personal data. This includes ensuring such data are processed and used for limited purposes, are accurate and up to date. HEIs submitting to the REF are required to have robust procedures to enable staff to disclose their circumstances with an appropriate degree of confidentiality, and to give particular regard to the disclosure of sensitive issues. HEIs must inform their staff of these procedures, within the institution's code of practice on the selection of staff. To assist institutions, the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) has provided a template disclosure form, which can be adapted by HEIs submitting to the REF.

Information about individual staff circumstances that is submitted to the REF will be kept confidential to the REF team and the members of the relevant sub-panel (for clearly defined circumstances) and to the REF team, the REF Equality and Diversity Advisory Panel (EDAP) and main panel chairs (for complex circumstances). All panel members are subject to confidentiality undertakings in respect of all information contained in submissions.

For complex individual staff circumstances:

  • HEIs are advised not to include names or personal identifiers in the REF1b form so that EDAP can review the cases anonymously.
  • Names or other identifying information of third parties referred to in the REF1b form (such as a relative of the individual) are not required and should not be included unless that person has been informed of this use of their information.
  • REF sub-panels will know that there are complex circumstances and will receive a decision about the appropriate number of outputs to reduce without penalty, but will not have access to further information about the circumstances.

Further details on individual staff circumstances can be found in Part 1, paragraphs 63-91 of the 'Panel criteria'.

We will use information submitted about individual staff circumstances only for the purposes of establishing the appropriate reduction in the number of outputs that may be submitted without penalty. We will not publish any of this information and will destroy submitted REF1b data on completion of the REF. We will publish a report by EDAP that will provide summary information about the range of circumstances submitted across the exercise as a whole. When we publish the submissions in 2015 we will include a single list of all the outputs, and a separate list of all the staff, in each submission. The list of outputs will include standard bibliographic data (including the author name) for each output, but will not be listed by author name.