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Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Information about REF and our work towards REF 2028.

REF 2028 logo

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the UK's system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions.

York St John University and REF definition of research

Research is defined as a process of investigation leading to new insights, effectively shared.

It includes work of direct relevance to the needs of commerce, industry, culture, society, and to the public and voluntary sectors; scholarship; the invention and generation of ideas, images, performances, artefacts including design, where these lead to new or substantially improved insights; and the use of existing knowledge in experimental development to produce new or substantially improved materials, devices, products and processes, including design and construction. It excludes routine testing and routine analysis of materials, components and processes such as for the maintenance of national standards, as distinct from the development of new analytical techniques. It also excludes the development of teaching materials that do not embody original research.

It includes research that is published, disseminated or made publicly available in the form of assessable research outputs, and confidential reports.

How REF assessments are graded

REF propose presenting the results by subject area and quality will be graded as follows:

  • 4* World-leading
  • 3* Internationally excellent
  • 2* Recognised internationally
  • 1* Recognised nationally
  • U Unclassified

REF 2028 Code of Practice

The Code of Practice for REF 2028 will be shared on this page after consultation.


Close up of top floor of De Grey building exterior against blue sky

REF 2014 results

Staff members sat on chairs and sofas talking in the Graduate Research centre

REF 2021 results