The UK Funding Bodies have published the outcomes of the recent national research assessment exercise, the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021. The University of Oxford made the largest submission of any Higher Education Institution (HEI) in the UK, submitting over 3,600 researchers (3,405 full time equivalent) into 29 subject areas, over 8,500 research outputs in a range of formats from journal articles to compositions, and 220 case studies about the impact of Oxford research beyond academia.
Research was submitted to Unit of Assessment 4 (UA4) from the Departments of Experimental Psychology, Psychiatry and the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences. In UA4, 69% of Oxford’s submission was judged to be 4* (the highest score available, for research quality that is world-leading in terms of originality, significance, and rigour). Our results are complemented by outstanding results from the other areas of Medical Sciences.
Professor Paul Harrison, Professor of Psychiatry and Chair of the University of Oxford Neuroscience Committee, led the UA4 team. He commented,
"I am delighted with our performance in REF2021 Unit of Assessment 4 (Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience), and pay tribute to all our researchers, and other staff, whose sustained efforts and excellence over the past seven years made it possible. 69% of our overall REF submission was rated as world-leading (4*). Notably, this included 100% of our research environment, reflecting the success of our scientific strategy, our support for our researchers, our infrastructure, and our collaborations and contributions to the field. This environment enabled us to carry out research of substantial impact (90% rated as 4*) and high quality (53% of outputs rated as 4*).
We are committed to maintaining our efforts and enhancing our achievements in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience. We already have exciting developments underway in terms of recruitment, investment and infrastructure, as well as strengthening our approaches to equality and diversity, access, and reproducibility."
Research from the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics was submitted to Unit of Assessment 5 along with research from the departments of Biochemistry, Dunn School of Pathology, Pharmacology, Plant Sciences and Zoology.
Head of the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics Professor David Paterson said: "I am delighted to report Oxford’s success to UoA5 in the National Research Excellence framework (2021), which our Department contributed. We had the largest national submission, in which 95% of the total profile (outputs, impact, environment) was rated world-leading or internationally excellent (4*/3*). Pleasingly our UoA achieved a 4* 100% rating for environment, outputs 91.8% 4*/3*, and impact 100% 4*/3*. This is a terrific achievement for all involved and speaks well of our colleagues as we improved on all metrics from REF2014. Based on volume of world-leading research (4* x FTE) we continue to maintain our leading position on research power. Many congratulations."
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The REF is the UK’s system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions, and is run by the four funding bodies in the UK (led by Research England for England). It replaced the Research Assessment Exercise, and first took place in 2014.
The REF is a process of expert review, 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. For each submission, three distinct elements are assessed: the quality of outputs (eg publications, performances, exhibitions), case studies on the impact of research beyond academia, and the environment that supports research.