Staff eligibility criteria
Staff eligibility criteria for the REF have been tightened. Only Category A and Category C staff may now be selected for submission, former staff (REF Categories B and D) are excluded.
Research Active Staff (REF Category A)
Category A staff are defined as "academic staff with a contract of employment of 0.2FTE or greater and on the payroll of the submitting HEI on the census date (31 October 2013), and whose primary employment function is to undertake either 'research only' or 'teaching and research'".
- Staff who hold institutional/NHS joint appointments.
- Pensioned staff who continue in salaried employment to carry out research.
- Staff on unpaid leave of absence or on secondment on 31 October 2013 who are contracted to return to normal duties up to two years from the start of their period of absence or secondment (provided that staff recruited to cover their duties are not also listed as Category A).
- Staff employed by the HEI and based in a discrete unit or department outside the UK, provided that it is demonstrated that the primary focus of their research activity on the census date is clearly and directly connected to the submitting unit.
- Staff on secondment as contracted academic staff at another UK HEI may be returned by either or both institutions, provided that their total FTE does not exceed their contracted FTE with their main employer.
- Other than individuals on secondment, staff may only be returned as Category A by more than one HEI if they have a contract with and receive a salary from more than one HEI. The two HEIs must ensure that the total FTE value of the individual is no more than the lower of 1.0 or the individual's total contracted FTE duties.
- Where an individual holds a joint appointment across multiple submitting unites, the HEI must only submit the individual in one.
- Staff whose salary is calculated on an hourly or daily basis are only eligible if they have a contract of employment of at least 0.2FTE per year over the length of their contract.
- Staff with multiple contracts in an institution should be returned with an FTE no greater than the contract that qualifies them as Category A.
Research Assistants are defined as academic staff who are employed to carry out another individual's research programme, rather than as independent researchers in their own right. They are not eligible to be returned to the REF, unless, exceptionally, they are named as principal investigator or equivalent on a research grant or significant piece of research work on the census date and satisfy the definition of Category A staff.
Embedded Researchers (REF Category C)
Category C staff are defined as individuals employed by an organisation other than an HEI whose contract or job role includes the undertaking of research focused in the submitting unit on the census date.
This may include employees of the NHS, Research Council units, Charities and other organisations. It does not include non-academic staff, retired staff who are still research active, or visiting professors, fellows and lecturers employed by other HEIs.
Submitted outputs by Category C staff will inform quality profiles, but they will not contribute to the volume measure for funding purposes. Details of all Category C staff will need to be provided in form REF1c and this, in the event of an audit, will need to be supported by documented evidence about their employment and that research is included in their contract or documented job description.
Reductions in outputs
The information below is provided for information only, the calculation for reductions will be carried out by the University's REF Office.
All HEFCE national sub-panels have a normal expectation of four outputs for each individual returned as Category A or C, but they recognise that some individual circumstances may preclude this. For each member of staff returned with fewer than four outputs a case must be made in REF1b in one of the following categories:
- Staff with clearly defined circumstances – (Maximum 200 words) This includes qualifying as an early career researcher; part-time working; maternity and adoption leave; additional paternity and adoption leave; and secondments or career breaks outside the higher education sector in which the individual did not undertake academic research. In UoAs 1-6 Category A staff who are defined as junior clinical academics and Category C staff who are employed primarily as clinical, health or veterinary professionals also qualify as having clearly defined circumstances.
- Staff with complex circumstances – (Maximum 300 words) This includes disability, ill health or injury, mental health conditions, constraints related to pregnancy, maternity, paternity or adoption in addition to a clearly defined period of maternity, paternity or adoption leave, childcare or other caring responsibilities, gender reassignment, and other circumstances related to the protected characteristics listed in paragraph 190 of HEFCE's 'Assessment framework and guidance to submissions' or to activities protected by employment legislation.
Submissions must include sufficient details of the individual's circumstances to show that they meet the criteria set out below; where the criteria have not been met the 'missing' output will be recorded as unclassified.
Early Career Researchers
Any Category A or C staff who started their careers as independent researchers in an HEI, business or other organisation on or after 1 August 2009 is classified as an early career researcher. An individual is deemed to have begun a career as an independent researcher at the point at which they held a contract of 0.2 FTE or greater, which included a primary employment function of undertaking 'research' or 'teaching and research', and acted as a principal investigator or equivalent on a research grant or significant piece of research work. Staff are not early career researchers if they acted as an independent researcher before 1 August 2009 and have had a break from their research career, before returning to work.
Early career researchers may be submitted with fewer than four outputs without penalty and must be identified as ECRs in the submission. The tariff for the reduction of outputs for early career researchers is as follows:
|Date at which the individual first met the REF definition of an early career researcher||Number of outputs may be reduced by up to|
|On or before 31 July 2009||0|
|Between 1 August 2009 and 31 July 2010 inclusive||1|
|Between 1 August 2010 and 31 July 2011 inclusive||2|
|On or after 1 August 2011||3|
When staff are absent from work due to part-time working, secondment or career breaks outside the higher education sector in which they did not undertake academic research, their reduction in outputs should follow the following tariff.
|Total months absent between 1 January 2008 and 31 October 2013 due to working part-time, secondment or career break||Number of outputs may be reduced by up to|
|46 or more||3|
For part-time working the 'total months absent' should be calculated by multiplying the number of months worked part-time by the full-time equivalent (FTE) not worked during those months. For example an individual who worked for 30 months at 0.6FTE would quality for 12 months absent.
Maternity, paternity and adoption leave
Individuals may reduce the number of outputs by one for each discrete period of:
- Statutory maternity or adoption leave taken substantially during the period 1 January 2008 to 31 October 2013, regardless of the length of the leave.
- Additional paternity or adoption leave lasting four months or more, taken substantially during the period 3 April 2011 to 31 October 2013 (the new right to additional paternity or adoption begins on 3 April 2011). 'Additional paternity or adoption leave' refers to leave taken to care for a child where the person's spouse, partner or civil partner was entitled to statutory maternity or adoption leave, and has since returned to work. This may be taken by parents of either gender. Additional paternity or adoption leave lasting less than four months may be taken into account in claims for complex circumstances where such leave has an impact in combination with other factors such as childcare, or as part of a combination of other clearly defined circumstances as explained below.
Ordinary paternity leave will not lead to an automatic reduction. However, time spent away from work for paternity leave, or other limitations placed by paternity on a researcher's ability to carry out their research, can form part of a claim for complex circumstances.
Other circumstances that apply in UoAs 1-6
UoAs 1-6 will allow the reduction of up to two outputs for:
- Category A staff who are junior clinical academics. These are clinically qualified academics who are still completing their clinical training in medicine or dentistry and have not gained a Certificate of Completion of Training or its equivalent prior to 31 October 2013.
- Category C staff who are employed primarily as clinical, health or veterinary professionals, and whose research is primarily focused in the submitting unit.
Where an individual meets these criteria and has significant additional circumstances they should be returned as complex for a reduction of up to three outputs.
Combining clearly defined circumstances
Where individuals have had a combination of clearly defined circumstances that have affected their work, these may be accumulated up to a maximum reduction of three outputs. Where an individual has had multiple breaks from work that qualify as clearly defined circumstances, for example a secondment outside of the HE sector and a period of additional paternity leave of less than four months, the breaks should be combined together and Table 2 applied. Where an early career researcher has also worked part-time or had a secondment, career-break or period of additional paternity or adoption leave of less than four months, the period of time from 1 January 2008 up until the individual met the definition of an early career research should be calculated in months and Table 2 applied.
When clearly defined circumstances took place simultaneously, only one should be applied. For example, if an individual worked part-time throughout the assessment period, but only became an early career researcher on 1 September 2009, their number of months 'absent' due to part-time working should be calculated from 1 September 2009 and combined with the reduction due to qualifying as an early career researcher (as above).
Where an individual has a combination of clearly defined and complex circumstances, they should be submitted collectively as complex circumstances.
Where staff are submitted with complex circumstances, or a combination or clearly defined and complex circumstances, the University will need to make a judgement on the appropriate reduction in outputs and provide justification. REF1b should provide an estimate – in terms of the equivalent number of months absent from work – of the impact of the complex circumstances on the individual's ability to work productively throughout the assessment period, stating any further constraints on the individual's research work in addition to the equivalent months absent. The reduction should be made according to Table 2 in relation to the estimated months absent, with further constraints taken into account as appropriate. Complex circumstances case studies are available to download here.
Equality and Diversity
HEFCE have established an advisory panel to advise the REF team and UK funding bodies on equality and diversity issues in the REF. The terms of reference and membership of the group are set out below: