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The information on this page will enable institutions to prepare data to import to the REF submission system and provides further details of the data required in submissions, extending the guidance provided in the 'Guidance on submissions' (REF 20019/01) and 'Panel criteria' (REF 2019/02) documents.

The information in these documents may change to reflect any amendments to the submission system, which is currently under development. Any changes will be highlighted in subsequent versions of the documents.


  • Guidance on import/export file formats

This document provides details of the structure of the import/export file formats, including the names of the tables and fields and details of the expected data types and field lengths. It should be read in conjunction with the ‘Guidance on submissions’ and ‘Panel criteria’.

  • Import file templates

Below are template REF import files in XML, JSON and Microsoft Excel formats.

  • Output information requirements

The Excel document below sets out the specific information that will be required for different types of research outputs. This provides additional information to the generic requirements set out in Part 3 Section 2 of the 'Guidance on submissions' and all fields set out in the ‘Guidance on import/export file formats’. 

  • REF form templates

The Impact case studies template (REF3) and the Unit of assessment level environment template (REF5b) must be submitted as PDF and Word documents. Institutions should use the templates provided, with or without borders. These templates will also be available within the submission system.

The Institutional level environment template (REF5a) will be made available when the pilot panel publishes the final guidance and criteria in summer 2019.