REF 2014

Overview and Results

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) published the results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 Assessment on 18 December 2014. Information on how the University of Oxford performed can be found here:, with the results table located here:

Of the 36 broad research categories (termed “Units of Assessment”, UOAs) into which research activity could be submitted, the University of Oxford submitted research activity to 29 UOAs, highlighting the breadth of research we undertake. Further information on the impact of our research can be found here:


The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is a peer review process to assess the quality of research activity at eligible UK Higher Education Institutions. REF replaces the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). Performance in the REF will drive HEFCE quality-related research (QR) funding from 2015-16. QR is a very significant part of University income, worth around £100M to Oxford in 2009/10 against an overall research income total of around £480M.

Research activity was reviewed across 36 Units of Assessment (UOA) such as Law, Modern Languages and Clinical Medicine. UOA panels will comprise experts in each field, and will assign a ‘quality profile’ to submissions from participating institutions.

Submissions comprise three elements:

Outputs: The panels assessed the quality of submitted research outputs in terms of their ‘originality, significance and rigour’, with reference to international research quality standards. This element carried a weighting of 65 per cent.

Impact: The sub-panels assessed the ‘reach and significance’ of impacts on the economy, society and/or culture that were underpinned by excellent research conducted in the submitted unit, as well as the submitted unit’s approach to enabling impact from its research. This element carried a weighting of 20 per cent.

Environment: The sub-panels assessed the research environment in terms of its ‘vitality and sustainability’, including its contribution to the vitality and sustainability of the wider discipline or research base. This element carried a weighting of 15 per cent.

See the HEFCE ‘Assessment Framework and Guidance on Submissions’ for more information.

Results: The REF 2014 results were published by the UK Funding Councils on the 18 December 2014. Information on how the University of Oxford performed can be found here:, with the results table located here:

Oxford’s Preparations

The preparation of Oxford’s return was overseen by the University Research Committee, chaired by the PVC for Research. Key to the overall production of each submission was the part played by the UOA coordinator, a senior academic who worked in consultation with their colleagues and took responsibility for all aspects of the return.  A list of UOA coordinators is provided in University of Oxford's REF 2014 Units of Assessment (December 2014). They were supported by officers within the divisions, and central coordination was handled by the Planning and Resource Allocation Section (PRAS).

Each divisional board (or a body nominated by them) was responsible for considering the returns from each coordinator as they are developed, and for recommending them to the University’s Research Committee.

The lead officer in PRAS was Gillian Rendle.

Further information on how the submission was coordinated, the timeline involved, the support structures available, and how individual circumstances were managed can be found on the REF Code of Practice webpage.

Further Information on REF 2014

Funding Councils Assessment Framework and Guidance on Submissions

Funding Councils Panel Criteria and Working Methods

REF results webpage