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Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry


The Department is preparing its submission for the Research Excellence Framework, known as REF 2021. Because of the Covid-19 crisis, the deadline for submission has been extended from 20 November 2020 to spring 2021 (date to be confirmed). For further information, please see the questions and answers below. 

What is REF 2021?

REF is a review process of the research excellence of higher education institutions (HEIs) in England and Wales, carried out by Research England. Its purpose is to provide accountability for public investment in research and produce evidence of the benefits of this investment. Crucially, each institution's rating will determine their allocation of funding. The final ratings are made public, and will also affect the institution's reputation regarding the quality of their research. It is vital therefore, to put together the best possible submission.

What is being assessed?

Research England assesses three distinct elements of research quality:

  1. Quality of research outputs (eg, publications): 60%
  2. Impact of research beyond academia: 25%
  3. The environment that supports research: 15%

Who judges our submission?

REF assessments are carried out by expert panels for each of the 34 subject-based units of assessment (UOAs), under the guidance of four main panels. Expert panels are made up of senior academics, international members and research users. We are UOA 8 (Chemistry), which falls under Main Panel B (Physical sciences, engineering and mathematics). All panel membership and criteria can be found on the Research England REF 2021 website.

Who are the members of the Department REF Committee?

Department of Chemistry (UoA 8) REF 2021 Committee
Committee Role Name Email address

Chair, Equality & Diversity Lead, Outputs & Open Access Lead, Impact Lead

Professor Christopher Hunter
Deputy Chair Professor John Pyle (Atmospheric)
UoA Administrator, Environment Lead Mrs Diane Harris
Member Professor Sophie Jackson (Biological)
Member Professor Tuomas Knowles (Physical)
Member Professor Erwin Reisner (Materials)
Member Professor David Wales (Theory)
Member Professor Matthew Gaunt (Synthetic)
Academic Lead Professor Jeremy Sanders (School of Physical Sciences)
Academic Lead Professor Serena Best (School of Physical Sciences)
Ex officio members Dr Katherine Griffiths/ Dr Amaya Camara-Campos (Research Office REF Impact Coordinators)

Ex officio member Dr James Keeler (Head of Department)


Who is eligible to be submitted for REF?

All staff with a contract of employment of .2 FTE (full-time equivalent) or greater, who are on the Department (or a College) payroll on the census date of 31 July 2020 will qualify, as long as their primary employment function is to undertake either "research only" or "teaching and research".

  • Staff on teaching and research contracts must also have "significant responsibility for research."
  • Staff on research only contracts must be independent researchers. 

Eligibility is determined by the Department REF Committee, who must follow the REF Guidance on Submissions, and apply the University of Cambridge Code of Practice (Raven password required) and the Department REF Committee Working Methods when making decisions. The Code of Practice contains clear, transparent and objective procedures for applying the REF rules and for appealing any decisions.


Will my eligibility for REF affect my position in the Department?

The University does not consider the REF to be an assessment of individual staff members, and eligibility for REF does not affect your position in the Department or the assessment of the quality of your work.

How do I know if I have been submitted for REF?

All research staff will be notified by the University REF office of their eligibility for REF. All notifications explain the eligibility rules and provide information on how to request a review or appeal the decision of eligibility. The Code of Practice contains provisions for equality, fairness, and confidentiality that must be followed in all of these steps.

What are the University of Cambridge Code of Practice and the Department Working Methods document?

University of Cambridge Code of Practice

The University of Cambridge Code of Practice sets out the processes that govern the University's REF submission, and has been developed in consultation with staff and staff group representatives across the collegiate University. The Code of Practice governs the processes for identifying qualifying staff and selection of outputs. The Code of Practice is available to read on the University REF website (Raven password required), which also has other useful information relating to REF 2021.

Department of Chemistry Working Methods document

The Department of Chemistry (UoA 8) Working Methods document sets out how the Department will apply the REF 2021 rules and the University Code of Practice fairly and transparently. The full document is available to read here.

What are the REF Open Access requirements?

Research outputs that are submitted must meet the REF 2021 Open Access policy as follows:

  • Outputs accepted for publication from the 1st of April 2016 to 31 March 2018 must have been deposited in an Open Access research repository (eg, the University of Cambridge Apollo repository) as soon after the point of acceptance as possible, and no later than three months after the date of publication.
  • Outputs accepted for publication from the 1st of April 2018 to 31 December 2020 must have been deposited as soon after the point of acceptance as possible, and no later than three months after this date.

Some exceptions may apply. For further information about REF and Open Access, please contact the University Open Access team at, or visit the University of Cambridge Open Access web pages

What are the relevant timelines for research outputs?

To be eligible for REF 2021, research outputs must enter the public domain between 1/1/14 - 31/12/20. 

What are Impact Case Studies and what are the impact and research timelines?

The REF will assess the impact of excellent research undertaken within each submitted unit by requesting specific examples of impacts that have been underpinned by research undertaken within each unit over a period of time. The focus will be the impact of the unit's research, not of individuals or individual research outputs, although they may contribute to the evidence of impact. Impacts are assessed in terms of their reach and significance, and how they have contributed to the economy, society and culture within the UK and internationally. This means they exclude academic impact on research or on students and teaching.

Our Department will be submitting six to seven Impact Case Studies (depending on final staff numbers), which describe specific impacts that have occurred during the assessment period.

  • The research which underpins the impact must have been produced within the Department between 1/1/00 - 31/12/20.
  • The impact must have occurred between 1/8/13 - 31/7/20.



How can I find further information on REF 2021?