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Panel criteria and working methods

January 2012

REF 01.2012

This document is for information.

This document sets out the assessment criteria and working methods of the main and sub-panels for the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. The deadline for submissions is 29 November 2013.

Printed copies have been sent to Higher Education Institutions.

A summary of consultation responses will be available here shortly.

Part 2B, paragraph 61 of the 'panel criteria' about the use of Google Scholar by Sub-panel 11 no longer applies. This is further explained under 'citations data'

To: Heads of publicly funded higher education institutions in the UK
Of interest to those responsible for: Research
Reference: REF 01.2012
Publication date: January 2012
Enquiries from staff at UK higher education institutions: E-mail your institutional REF contact
Other enquiries: Anna Dickinson, tel 0117 931 7477, e-mail

Table of contents and executive summary (read online)


  • Executive summary
  • Introduction
  • Part 1: Generic statement of assessment criteria and working methods
    • The Research Excellence Framework
    • Submissions and units of assessment
    • Expert panels
    • Generic assessment criteria
    • Staff and individual staff circumstances
    • Interdisciplinary research and work on the boundaries between UOAs
    • Panel procedures
    • Main panel working methods
    • Sub-panel working methods
  • Part 2A: Main Panel A criteria
    • Section A1: Submissions and units of assessment
    • Section A2: Assessment criteria: outputs
    • Section A3: Assessment criteria: impact
    • Section A4: Assessment criteria: environment
  • Part 2B: Main Panel B criteria
    • Section B1: Submissions and units of assessment
    • Section B2: Assessment criteria: outputs
    • Section B3: Assessment criteria: impact
    • Section B4: Assessment criteria: environment
  • Part 2C: Main Panel C criteria
    • Section C1: Submissions and units of assessment
    • Section C2: Assessment criteria: outputs
    • Section C3: Assessment criteria: impact
    • Section C4: Assessment criteria: environment
  • Part 2D: Main Panel D criteria
    • Section D1: Submissions and units of assessment
    • Section D2: Assessment criteria: outputs
    • Section D3: Assessment criteria: impact
    • Section D4: Assessment criteria: environment
  • Annexes
    • Annex A Summary of requirements for additional information on outputs
    • Annex B Impact template (REF3a)
    • Annex C Environment template (REF5)
    • Annex D Managing conflicts of interest
    • Annex E Confidentiality and data security arrangements
    • Annex F List of abbreviations

Executive summary


1.   This document sets out the assessment criteria and working methods of the main and sub-panels for the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF).

2.   The final panel criteria and working methods set out in this document have been revised, in the light of responses to '2011-03' (REF 03.2011), from July to October 2011. This includes amendments to the guidelines that were published in '2011-02' (REF 02.2011). These changes are in Part 1, paragraphs 43, 44 and 64-91 and supersede the relevant paragraphs of REF 02.2011.

3.   This document should therefore be read alongside REF 02.2011. Together, the two documents give a comprehensive description of the information required in submissions to the REF, and how the REF panels will assess submissions.

Key points

4.   The REF is a process of expert review. Expert sub-panels for each of 36 units of assessment will carry out the assessment, working under the leadership and guidance of four main panels.

5.   UK higher education institutions (HEIs) will be invited to make submissions by 29 November 2013. The REF main and sub-panels will assess submissions during 2014, and results will be published in December 2014. The results will inform the allocation of research funding by the UK higher education funding bodies, from 2015-16.

6.   Part 1 of this document sets out the generic criteria and working methods that will be applied by all panels. Part 2 provides further details of the criteria of each of the four main panels.

Action required

7.   This document is for information and to guide institutions in preparing and collecting data for inclusion in REF submissions. No action is required by HEIs at this stage.

Further information

8.   For further information about the REF see

9.   Staff at UK HEIs should direct any queries to their institutional REF contact.

10.   Other enquiries should be addressed to