To ensure that REF processes are fair, the College is collecting data, in the strictest confidence, on individual circumstances from all staff eligible for submission. The data will be used to identify whichREF eligible staff may be able to submit, without penalty, fewer than four research outputs. Summary level data collected may also inform the College’s monitoring of staff selection procedures at the institutional level.
What does the REF mean by "Individual Staff Circumstances"?
These are circumstances which may have significantly constrained your ability to produce four outputs or work productively throughout the REF assessment period (1 January 2008 to 31 July 2013). There are two categories of circumstances:
Clearly defined circumstances - qualifying as an Early Career Researcher (ECR); part-time working; maternity, paternity or adoption leave; secondments or career breaks outside the higher education sector.
Complex circumstances – disability; ill health or injury; mental health conditions; constraints related to pregnancy or maternity, in addition to a clearly defined period of maternity leave; childcare or other caring responsibility; gender reassignment; or other circumstances related to the protected characteristics covered by The Equality Act 2010.
Full details can be found in section H of the College REF Code of Practice. For further background information see HEFCE's Equality and Diversity and the REF.
Individual Staff Circumstances Disclosure form
A disclosure form will be sent with the Code and should be completed and returned by all staff even if you do not intend to supply information on circumstances you think may have significantly constrained your ability to produce four outputs or to work productively throughout the REF assessment period. The College strongly recommends that if think your individual circumstances have constrained your ability to produce four outputs, you should use the form to disclose this information.
REF eligible staff will have received the form (along with the College REF Code of Practice) in May via their College email address and slightly later to their postal address registered with the College (by the way, we had intended to include a pre-addressed envelope with the postal mailing - unfortunately due to a simple error, these were omitted from the mailing. Apologies - please return them to the address included in the form). You can download extra copies of the form - there are two versions:
Both files contain full instructions on completing and returning. Note both files are only accessible when connected to the College network, either on campus or via VPN.
Individual staff circumstances - confidentiality
Within the College, the information provided through the Disclosure forms will ONLY be seen by members of a small Individual Staff Circumstances Panel (ISCP). The members of this Panel will not be involved in any academic judgements involved in our REF submission. To be clear - Departmental REF Leads, HoDs, Deans, VP's or other academic colleagues involved in the preparation of submissions will NOT have access to this information during or after the REF submission. Information supplied through the disclosure form will ONLY be used to assess whether the circumstances meet the criteria for reducing the number of required outputs.
Members of the ISCP handling individual staff circumstances will observe strict confidentiality and information will be stored securely. More information will be provided in the Code.
Beyond the College all REF panel members, chairs and secretaries are bound by confidentiality requirements, and acceptance of the confidentiality requirements is a condition of their appointment to the role. No information relating to identifiable individuals’ circumstances will be published by the funding bodies REF Team. All data collected, stored and processed by the UK funding bodies REF Team will be handled in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998.
What happens after submitting a completed disclosure form?
Completed forms from staff seeking a reduction in outputs will be reviewed by the Individual Staff Circumstances Panel.
Further information and advice
After reading the information provided with the form, in the Code and here in this section of the website, if you would like further information or advice relating to Individual Staff Circumstances, in the first instance please contact HR's confidential email address ref-hrrhul.ac.uk