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Summary

1. In summer 2019, the REF Equality & Diversity Panel (EDAP) reviewed a total of 157 Codes of Practice, and was impressed by their overall quality and the extent to which most institutions have engaged so positively with the process of developing and documenting their codes.  The vast majority (79%) were judged to adhere to the guidance, although a good proportion of these included one or more minor omissions (which needed to be rectified) or were still awaiting staff agreement for their proposed processes for identifying staff with significant responsibility for research at the time of submission.  It is pleasing to note that the proportion of codes adhering to the guidance was notably higher than in 2014.   

2. The length of codes varied considerably, and this did not appear to relate to the size of institution, nor the extent to which the codes demonstrated good practice.  Many codes included a large number of annexed documents which also added notably to the length.  It may be appropriate to include word limits for the main text and annexes in any future REF guidance.  There was also wide variation in the format and overall readability of codes.  The stronger ones tended to be reader-focused rather than written as a document for the Funding Bodies.  Some of the stronger ones used a question and answer format, or included text boxes highlighting what specific aspects meant for individual researchers, or provided a glossary of terms at the start of the document.  Several also included clear process diagrams taking researchers step by step through particular processes.  They also included contact details of one or more people who could provide further information or explanation if required. 

3. The most common areas where codes tended to fall short of the guidance were in processes for identifying significant responsibility for research (SRR)appeals procedures, failing to outline their approach to considering the outputs of former members of staff, and procedures for handling individual staff circumstances.  Several institutions failed to outline their approach to adjusting expectations of staff contributions to the output pool in relation to individual circumstances, and others failed to document the basis on which cases for unit reduction requests would be made, although they were not asked to make amendments in relation to the latter given that the requirement was not sufficiently explicit in the template guidance.  These shortcomings, however, need to be balanced with the high number of codes that exemplified good and, in some cases, excellent practice in one or more areas.  Where EDAP judged codes to fall short of the guidance, the advice was passed to the relevant funding body, which corresponded directly with the institution concerned. 

4. This report highlights notable examples of good practice, as well as practices in need of improvement, for each of the key areas the codes were required to address. 

Action required

This document is for information.