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This page covers a range of resources that focus on the Impact portion of the Research Excellence Framework.

Writing Impact Case Studies

Known four-star case studies from REF2014

Fast Track Impact has listed all of the known 4* case studies from REF2014. These are case studies that come from units of assessments with impact quality profiles of 100% four-star (the highest rating).

Top scoring impact submissions from every UoA

Stephen Kemp has very kindly pulled together the top 5 scoring submissions for every UoA (in 2014) for impact. Taking a look at these examples for your UoA will add to the your understanding of what enabled them to get those high scores and, when compared to known 4* cases (potentially in other UoAs), how they could have been improved.

What made a four-star impact case study in REF2014?

Reichard, B., Reed, M.S., Chubb, J., Hall, G., Jowett, J., Peart, A., and Whittle, A., Writing impact case studies: a comparative study of high-scoring and low-scoring case studies from REF2014. Palgrave Commun 6, 31 (2020). This journal article is the largest comparison of high and low scoring case studies from REF2014. This blogpost covers the main findings from the paper. 

The A-Z of impact case studies

Sally Brown at Southampton and does a great job of pulling together the advice from lots of disparate literature (academic and grey) into this brilliant poster of the A-Z of impact case studies. The poster has the references Sally used as inspiration. She also crowdsourced suggestions, for inclusion, via Twitter. Sally has made it available via her ResearchGate profile.

Getting testimonials to corroborate the impact of your research

Five easy to follow steps, from Professor Mark Reed, to help you secure corroboration for your impact.


Interpretation of the guidance

This post from Mark Reed has some of the latest clarifications etc about how the guidance for REF will be implemented. He also summarises a range of other resources he has put together re REF and Evidencing impact at the end of the post. Mark regularly updates this page with anything new he finds out.

Sharepoint site for REF2021 case study authors

The University Impact Group has created a Sharepoint site for case study authors that contains resources to help you understand the guidance (relating to case studies) and material to help you develop the best case study possible 

Will case studies need to be better than REF2014 to get the same score?

This blogpost from Mark Reed discusses some answers he received from Steven Hill (Director of Research, Research England). This is definitely worth a read if you are a UOA lead or impact case study author or supporting authors.

Research into REF evaluator behaviour offers three key pieces of advice for REF2021

Dr Gemma Derrick used her ESRC fellowship to investigate impact reviewers’ behaviour in REF2014 – her great book ‘The Evaluators’ Eye’ is now available as an e-book through the library. Gemma distilled this to provide some really simple to follow advice for REF2021.

Internal REF Impact Assessment: Lessons from Northumbria University

This blogpost describes how Northumbria University undertook a recent internal review of its potential impact case studies for REF2021. It is really refreshing to seeing such open sharing of processes to prepare for REF, when most of this type of information is ‘kept under wraps’ in case it gives away competitive advantage.

Assessing impact case studies

This blogpost from Professor Mark Reed describes his approach to assessing potential impact case studies for REF2021. Mark is Director of Impact and Engagement in the School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development at Newcastle University. He is leading on the impact side of the School’s REF2021 submission.


Database of case studies submitted to REF2014

Nearly all of the case studies submitted to REF2014 (a case study could be deemed confidential and therefore not published) can be searched and downloaded from the online database. When you look at case study make sure you look at what its rating my have been by taking a look at the REF results for that submitting institution and Unit of Assessment.

How much was a case study worth in REF2014?

This blogpost from Professor Mark Reed describes the method he used to calculate this and the results he obtained. His analysis of units of assessment where all the impact case where scored as either all 3* or all 4*, suggested that the difference was as much as £36,000 / year of additional QR funding for a 4* case study compared to a 3* case study.