(Note: In April 2020, Research England paused preparations for REF 2021 four months as a consequence of COVID-19. When the REF preparations resumed on 31 July 2020, new guidance was published describing revisions to the exercise made in view of the altered timetable and to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on universities’ submissions. Headline changes are in red below, with more detailed changes set out in the revised Code of Practice.)
The University’s preparations for REF 2021 are well underway, with the staff census date on 31 July 2020 and the deadline for submission on 31 March 2021. Between September and December 2020, our priorities are:
- Completing the process to determine research independence of our research-only staff.
- Finalising the individual circumstances process (see below for more details).
- Completion of the review of eligible outputs, plus the selection and attribution of outputs in each Unit of Assessment.
- Completion of an Equality Impact Assessment, reviewing and acting on our findings.
- Completing the majority of our impact case studies.
- Nearing completion of our environment statements at institutional and unit of assessment level.
- A ‘deep-dive’ REF readiness review of each Unit of Assessment.
REF code of practice and invitation to declare individual circumstances
Aston University REF 2021 Code of Practice (including COVID revisions)
Our Code of Practice was accepted by Research England in Autumn 2019. Minor revisions were made in September 2020 as a consequence of COVID-19 delays to the REF process. These changes include the REF timeline with the final round of invitations to declare individual circumstances delayed until autumn 2020 (final deadline for declarations on 12 October 2020). This last round of invitations includes all Category A staff who have joined Aston between the end of February and 31 July 2020.
Declaration of Individual Staff Circumstances Form and Privacy Notice
Information provided in a Declaration will be used by the Individual Circumstances Group to decide whether an adjustment should be made in expectations of an individual’s contribution to the unit output pool. These decisions will be made using the tariffs set out in Annex L of the REF Guidance on Submissions (see Annex 8 of the Aston REF Code of Practice). In addition to individual adjustments, where, the cumulative effect of circumstances disproportionately affects a Unit of Assessment’s potential output pool, universities may request a reduction (without penalty) in the total number of outputs required for a submission (Research England deadline 6 March 2020).
Information about making a declaration of individual circumstances
Full information about individual circumstances, the declaration process and the appeals process are set out in the Aston REF Code of Practice (pages 18-23); the declaration form is provided above. Having considered this information, any individuals who would like to discuss their options for making a declaration, should contact RKE_REFCircumstances@aston.ac.uk in the first instance.
Importantly, the decision to declare individual circumstances rests with individual members of staff, with declarations being submitted using a Declaration of Individual Circumstances Form to RKE_REFCircumstances@aston.ac.uk. In line with REF guidelines, we will not take into account any individual circumstances other than those that are declared voluntarily through this process. There is no requirement to declare individual circumstances should individuals not wish to do so, and there will be no detriment to staff if they wish to declare an individual circumstance. The Individual Circumstances Process will be operated consistently across the University; it is being managed through the central RKE office and the Individual Circumstances Group will assess and implement the Individual Circumstances Process. All information will be stored securely online and in hard copy.