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Impact case studies (REF3b)
Latest FAQs (March 2013)
Where an individual moved to the HEI after 1 January 2008, and their research had a continuing impact that started before they joined the HEI, which part of the impact can the HEI claim?
The HEI can claim the impact from the point at which research carried out by staff while working in the HEI made a distinct and material contribution to it. Any impact prior to that point can be described in the case study as context only (to help explain the background the impact), but cannot be claimed as part of the impact underpinned by the submitting HEI's research.
What action should an HEI take if the source to corroborate an impact case study is in a language other than English?
If the corroborating evidence is a pre-existing document not available in English, the HEI should reference the document and state what language it is in. The REF team will use the expertise of specialist advisers with the relevant language skills, if corroboration through these sources is required.
Any corroborating statements provided by users and held on file by the HEI will need to be provided to the REF team in English if requested through an audit. Where necessary the HEI will need to arrange for their translation.
Corroborating contacts should be given only for people who the REF team can communicate with in English.
Do all the outputs referenced in an impact case study need to be of at least two-star quality?
A case study should include references to up to six research outputs that represent the body of research or a research project that was carried out at the submitting institution. These should be key outputs that underpinned the impact, and that best demonstrate the quality of the body of work or project. The sub-panels will not expect each individual output to meet the quality threshold, but will wish to be satisfied that the listed work was predominantly of at least two-star quality.
Can the same impact case study be submitted by more than one submitting unit?
Where more than one submitting unit made a distinct and material research contribution to an impact, each of those submitting units may submit a case study of the impact. However, the case studies should not be identical, because each submitting unit will need to show that its research made a distinct and material contribution to the impact. This applies whether an HEI wishes to submit the same impact in different submissions, or different HEIs wish to submit the same impact.
Can an HEI submit an impact case study in a UOA, even if the individual who conducted the research is returned in a different UOA?
Yes, we recognise that individual researchers may undertake research across multiple disciplines over time and that UOA boundaries are not rigid. Provided the underpinning research is within the scope of the UOA in which it is submitted, a case study may be submitted in a different UOA from the individual.
Does the indicative maximum of 6 references to research in an impact case study refer to a combined total of research references and grant information details?
No. In addition to the maximum of 6 research references, grant information details may also be provided, where appropriate.
Can an impact that had taken place before the output(s) from the underpinning research were published be submitted in a case study?
Yes. It is recognised that research may have had impact prior to the publication of the output(s). The end of the publication period for the underpinning research (31 December 2013) extends beyond the end of the period for the impact (31 July 2013).
Can 'interim' impacts be submitted in case studies, and how will they be assessed?
Submitted impacts may be at any stage of development or maturity so long as some effect, change or benefit meeting the REF definition of impact (at Annex C of 'Assessment framework and guidance on submissions') took place during the assessment period (1 January 2008 to 31 July 2013). Regardless of the stage of maturity, case studies will be assessed in terms of the 'reach and significance' of the impacts that had occurred during this period.
Can an institution submit an impact underpinned by research carried out while the staff were working at the submitting institution, but the output was published after they had left the institution?
Yes. The case study should state what research was carried out at the submitting institution, by whom, and when. As with all information provided in submissions, such information should be capable of verification by the institution.
Can an institution submit an impact that is underpinned by research carried out by staff who were returned (or were eligible) as 'Category C' staff in a former RAE?
Yes, provided that they carried out the underpinning research while working in the submitting HEI.
Can an impact case study be submitted in a different REF UOA to the UOA that the underpinning research had been submitted in a former RAE?
If a case study is graded as Unclassified, will the HEI be informed whether this was due to the reach and significance of the impact, or due to some other reason (such as ineligibility or insufficient quality of the underpinning research)?
No. The panels may include general comments on this issue in their overview reports, if applicable.
Can the institution only submit impacts underpinned by research in areas in which it still remains active?
A submitted impact must be underpinned by research that was carried out by staff while working in the submitting HEI. The HEI need not remain active in the area of research.
Note that in reaching their overall judgements about the impact element of submissions, sub-panels will consider the submitted unit's recent activity and strategy for enabling impact from its current research.
If the submitting HEI has merged with another HEI or has taken over another research unit, can it submit impacts from research that was undertaken by the other HEI or research unit before becoming part of the submitting HEI?
Where a submitting HEI is the result of a merger between former HEIs, the submitting HEI can submit impacts from the research undertaken by the former, now merged, HEIs.
Where a submitting HEI has taken over a research unit – whether from another HEI or from elsewhere – the submitting HEI can submit impacts from research that was undertaken by the absorbed unit before it became part of the submitting HEI, with prior agreement from the relevant UK funding body.
Prior agreement must be sought by providing details of the nature of the research unit and of when and how it became part of the submitting HEI, to email@example.com, no later than 30 June 2013. The REF team will liaise with the relevant funding body and communicate the decision to the HEI.
In each case the funding bodies will take into consideration whether a distinct unit was absorbed by the submitting HEI in its entirety, and the extent to which there has been genuine structural change.