Preparing for Our Research Excellence Framework (REF) Submission

Research is central to all we do as a university, and the Research Excellence Framework (REF) is an important way in which this work is recognised and rewarded.

The REF is a periodic measurement of research quality in universities and other higher education institutions in the UK against international standards of excellence. The REF outcomes are used by the UK Funding Councils to distribute their ‘QR’ block grant for research, and offer an objective picture of research quality across the UK. It first took place in 2014 and the next assessment will be conducted in 2021.

The REF 2021 result will greatly influence our competitive position and, thereby, affects our ability to continue to attract excellent staff and students. The result also determines how much ‘QR’ funding we receive, which helps fund research and impact even when it is not supported by a research grant or contract. High quality research underpins our teaching, our reputation, and our contribution to society. Given the value of this exercise, it is important that we are well prepared to ensure our submission properly represents the research excellence at our university.

REF 2021 - Latest Updates

In line with the published REF 2021 guidance, Lancaster has developed a Code of Practice which has been approved by the VC and submitted to Research England. The Code is an important document which describes our REF preparation processes and is available to all staff.

The Lancaster University REF 2021 Code of Practice is available here.

The following appendices for the Codes of Practice are available:

If you have any queries about REF or the code please email

The UK’s four higher education funding bodies have published the guidance on submissions, panel criteria and working methods and guidance on the codes of practice for the REF 2021. All of the documents can be found here.

Lancaster University Research Enhancement Process

Lancaster’s preparations for REF2021 are already underway. Last year we put in place a Research Enhancement Process to ensure that faculties are supported in delivering the best REF submission possible. This process frames our activities at the university, faculty, department and individual level. The aim of the Research Enhancement Process is to deliver research excellence through a mentoring and developmental culture, and is broader than the REF, but included REF preparation as this is an important component of how research is funded in the UK.

Read about the university preparations in full here: REF2021_communications_Jan18_finalv3

Read about Pure REF 2021 module guidance for departments and module administrators and Unit of Assessment Coordinators.

REF Information Sessions

There are two consultation and information REF sessions available for staff:

11 March 2019 –11:00 to 12:00, Lecture Theatre 1, Management School

18 March 2019 –15:00 to 16:00. Lecture Theatre 1, Fylde College

If you have any comments or feedback  on Lancaster’s  development of the code please email  

The timetable for the REF preparations and submission can be found here.

REF presentation for Open Staff meeting can be found here.