How our teams, tools and data can support you for REF2021

Preparations for the imminent REF2021 require a great deal of time and attention for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the UK. Whereas some tasks and requirements are clearly defined, others require Institutions to think outside the box.

Our diverse yet specialised portfolio companies can support UK HEIs with their services and data:

  • Symplectic’s clients use Elements and the Assessment Module for their core REF preparation
  • Altmetric provides information on the attention research has received and offers a potential early indication of impact
  • Dimensions provides a rich context for research outputs by linking publications to grants, patents and policy papers
  • Our Consultancy team can produce a variety of reports tailored to REF2021 requirements thanks to our in-house expertise in Dr Juergen Wastl, former Deputy REF Manager at the University of Cambridge

See an overview below of how our teams, tools and data can support you in your preparations for REF2021. For more information, please get in touch with us at





REF2 Research Outputs


Elements’ dedicated assessment module enables you to manage your UoA submission and comply with all mandatory REF data and justification statements. This includes identification, proposal, review, selection, attribution, and Open Access compliance


Compare your Institutionally held data with Dimensions’ world view on your staff’s outputs and research in context to retrieve a fuller picture of your output portfolio, including OA status and bibliometrics


From social media to policy citations, Altmetric’s insights can help you discover additional context in order to help inform your REF2 selections

REF3 Impact case studies


Elements’ dedicated Impact module enables you to gather impact narratives, evidence, links, and metadata to help inform case study selection and submission.


Dimensions enables you to gain insights into your UoA’s research portfolio, in context: grants, patents, and clinical trial links show you your unit’s research impact beyond citation counts to give you a fuller picture


Identify your research outputs’ links to policy documents, patents and online activity such as news and blogs to help evidence and corroborate impact case studies

REF5 Research Environment


Collect, collate and report on professional activities in your UoA to inform your submission strategy and populate your REF5a and REF5b Research Environment statements


Gain insights into the context of your UoA’s research (including patents, citations, grants, funders, collaborations, Open Access) to inform your submission strategy and populate your REF5a and REF5b Research Environment statements


Offering a comprehensive overview of research impact indicators and links to policy documents, patents and online media, Almetric’s insights can help enrich and underpin your REF5a and REF5b Research Environment statements


Our Custom Reports

Our custom reports provide you with data and detailed insight into your institution’s performance that will help you form your submission for REF2021 and maximise your outcomes. From helping you discover and identify quality research outputs and their context, gather impact corroboration and evidence, and inform your submission strategy, we offer in-depth insights on outputs (including Open Access compliance where necessary), impact and environment.

If you are interested in obtaining any of these reports for your institutions or have other requirements, please get in touch via


UoA Report

We provide Institutions with a generic and indicative UoA categorization of all publications affiliated with their Institution (based on a UOA classification scheme from REF 2014 outputs). We can also create specific reports based on staff (current and / or past) in groups reporting published research outcomes for potential inclusion in your REF return.

Open Access Report

Based on DOI outputs we can create a report that analyses the Open Access performance of an Institution’s output profile. OA type, citation performance and underpinning funding can help Institutions inform their decision-making for output selection, Institution and unit-specific environment templates.

Impact Report

We can create specific reports to support your decision-making with respect to continued case studies by tracking underpinning research and its impact based on citations in patents, policy documents and other forms of online attention (news, blogs, open peer review). We can also track REF2-identifiable outputs back to 2000 to highlight the impact your research outputs received to inform your decision making.


Plan ahead for REF2021 – view our webinars

See how our reports can provide data and detailed information on institutions that will help those submitting for REF2021.

Plan Ahead for REF 2021 Webinar


Learn how Dimensions’ new Unit of Assessment categorization can support your REF submission and provide you with new insights.

Boosting your REF2021 Submissions with Dimensions



Additional Reading

The nature, scale and beneficiaries of research impact An initial analysis of Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 impact case studies
King’s College London and Digital Science
This report is based on an analysis of the 6,679 non-redacted impact case studies that were submitted to the 2014 REF. Using a mix of text-mining approaches and qualitative analysis, the nature, scale and beneficiaries of the non-academic impact of research is described.

The Ascent of Open Access
Digital Science
An analysis of the Open Access landscape since the turn of the millennium. It compares the leading countries for research outputs as well as Open Access collaboration trends.

The Diversity of UK research
Digital Science
The economic and societal impact of university research seen through a total of 6,975 case studies. This Report contains visualisations of the knowledge networks underpinning the impact of UK university research.

The REF guidance isn’t trying to catch you out
Catriona Firth –  Head of REF Policy at Research England
Published on , on 31 Jan 2019

Full list of REF abbreviations 
For a  full list please see page 121 on the Guidance on submission document

The latest publications from REF 2021



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