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Submissions will be published on the REF website in spring 2022. The published submissions will include:

  • the institution’s final code of practice
  • list of research groups
  • a list of the submitted research outputs and the accompanying data submitted for each output
  • the submitted data on research doctoral degrees awarded and research income
  • the submitted textual information about impact and the research environment (REF3, REF5a and REF5b).

In addition to publishing textual information about impact in PDF format, the funding bodies intend to publish submitted impact case studies as a searchable database, and intend to license the content within this database under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence (CC-BY 4.0).

The REF submission system enables HEIs to exclude parts of their submissions from publication, for specific reasons, by identifying:

  • individual outputs that should be excluded from the published submissions
  • submitted case studies (REF3), institutional-level environment statements (REF5a) and unit-level environment templates (REF5b) that require redaction prior to publication
  • case studies as 'not for publication'.

Institutions should use these facilities to exclude those parts of their submission from publication, where publication of that information is likely to cause harm to an individual or organisation. This may be due to, for example:

  • commercial sensitivity or protection of intellectual property rights
  • information that was provided by a third party, where publication is likely to constitute an actionable breach of confidence
  • defence or security considerations
  • health and safety considerations (for example, individuals conducting animal research)
  • premature release of information about public policy development
  • a breach of legal privilege
  • protection of the rights of individuals under data protection legislation.

Where these examples apply, the information should not automatically be excluded from publication. The institution should consider the implications of publishing the information concerned and exclude it only where publication is likely to cause harm to an individual or organisation. Note that these examples are not exhaustive.

A case study should be marked as 'not for publication' if redaction of the specific data that is sensitive or confidential would lead to the whole document losing its general meaning. Otherwise the sensitive or confidential data should be redacted, and the remainder of the case study published.

Where an impact case study (REF3), institutional-level environment statement (REF5a) or unit-level environment template (REF5b) is identified as requiring redaction, a redacted version must be submitted by 1 June 2021. The institution should edit the original document, replacing the redacted text with '[text removed for publication]' and upload the edited document as a PDF document to the submission system. Each redacted impact case study (REF3) will also need to be uploaded as a Microsoft Word document. Annex D of the updated invitation to make submissions to the REF contains further information about generating PDFs of impact case studies (REF3), institutional-level environment statements (REF5a) and unit-level environment templates (REF5b).

Excluding affected case study statements, and the COVID-19 annex to the Institutional-level statement (REF5a)

The optional 100-word statements for case studies affected by COVID-19 may be excluded from publication where their publication is likely to cause harm to an individual or organisation. Where this is the case, the institution can identify the statement as ‘not for publication’ at the point of submission.

Where an institutional-level environment statement (REF5a) is identified as requiring redaction, a redacted version of the COVID-19 annex may also be provided, where necessary. A redacted version must be provided through the submission system by 1 June 2021. The institution should edit the original statement, replacing the redacted text with '[text removed for publication]' and submit this through the submission system. The facility to provide the redacted version of the COVID-19 annex is now available in the submissions system.

After the assessment

After the assessment has concluded, UKRI (as data controller, on behalf of the four UK funding bodies) will destroy its copies of documents marked as requiring redaction or not for publication, and retain only the published (redacted) versions. If UKRI receives freedom of information enquiries relating to submitted documents that it no longer holds, UKRI will direct the enquirer to the submitting institution.