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UKRI Data Collection Statement for the REF2021 – Non-Staff

About the REF

The purpose of the Research Excellence Framework 2021 (REF2021) is to assess the quality of UK research and to inform the selective distribution of public funds for research by the four UK higher education funding bodies. REF outcomes are used to calculate about £2 billion per year of public funding for universities’ research, and affect their international reputations. The results also inform strategic decisions about national research priorities. The next REF will be undertaken in 2021.

REF was first carried out in 2014, replacing the previous Research Assessment Exercise. It included for the first time an assessment of the broader impact of universities’ research beyond academia: on the economy, society, culture, public policy and services, health, the environment and quality of life – within the UK and internationally.

Impact is assessed through the submission of case studies, which describe the changes or benefits brought about by research undertaken by researchers at the institution. Impressive impacts were found across all disciplines, with 44 per cent of submissions judged to be outstanding. A database of case studies submitted in 2014 can be found here:

Data collection

REF is managed by the REF team, based at Research England (RE), on behalf of the four UK higher education funding bodies. RE is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and under this arrangement, UKRI has the role of ‘data controller’ for personal data submitted by us to RE for the purposes of REF.

You may have provided information for one or more impact case studies or environment statements as part of our submission to REF 2021. In 2021, we will send information about impact case studies and environment statements to UKRI for the purpose of REF 2021. The information will not be in coded form and your name - and details such as your job title and organisational affiliation - may be provided in these narrative statements. We refer to this information about you as ‘your data’.

You can find further information about what data are being collected on the REF website, at in particular publication 2019/01, ‘Guidance on submissions’. Annex G of that document sets out the data that we will be required to share with UKRI.

Sharing information about you

UKRI may pass your data, or parts of it, to any of the following organisations that need it to inform the selective distribution of public funds for research and to carry out their statutory functions connected with funding higher education:

  • Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland (DfE)
  • Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW)
  • Scottish Funding Council (SFC).

UKRI and the organisations listed above will use the information to analyse and monitor REF 2021. This may result in information being released to other users, including academic researchers or consultants (commissioned by the funding bodies) to carry out research or analysis, in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) . Where information not previously published is released to third parties, this will be anonymised where practicable.

UKRI will require that anyone who has access to your data, held in UKRI’s records, paper or electronic, will respect its confidentiality and will only process it in accordance with instructions issued for the purposes specified by UKRI.

Parts of your data will be passed to the REF expert panels and the Equality and Diversity Advisory Panel (whose members are independent of UKRI) for the purpose of conducting a systematic evaluation of submissions, in accordance with predetermined criteria and methods. All panel members are bound by confidentiality arrangements.

Publishing information about your part in our submission

The results of the assessment exercise will be published by UKRI, on behalf of the four UK higher education funding bodies, in 2022.

Those parts of submissions that contain factual data and textual information about research activity will also be published by UKRI, on behalf of the four UK higher education funding bodies, and will be made available online. Published information is likely to include textual information including impact case studies in which you may be referenced. Your name and job title may be included in this textual information. Other personal details will normally be removed.

Accessing your personal data

Under data protection legislation, you have the right to see and receive a copy of any personal information that UKRI holds about you. Further information including guidance on making a subject access request, can be found on the RE website at

If you have any concerns about your information being used for these purposes, please contact:

Data Protection Officer

UK Research and Innovation

Polaris House

Swindon, SN2 1FL


The Privacy Notice for any third-party (non-staff member) providing information Queen Mary University of London’s submission to REF 2021 (Impact Case Studies) is available at our .

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