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Research Excellence Framework 2021

See below the CASE results for the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF).

We are proud that CASE research led to Impact Case Studies that were awarded a 4* world-leading grade in REF2021. Our research contributed to the Social Policy department (along with the Departments of Health Policy, Psychological and Behavioural Science, Gender Studies, and Methodology) receiving a 4* world-leading grade for the Unit of Assessment's (UoA's) Research Environment and 99 per cent of research outputs rated as 'world-leading' or 'internationally excellent'.

Research by CASE on poverty and inequality has influenced how critical social problems are measured and understood, resulting in an Impact Case Study that has been awarded a 4* world-leading grade. This work has highlighted previously hidden or neglected disparities, and, in so doing, given visibility and voice to marginalised groups. CASE researchers have developed systematic and comprehensive monitoring frameworks for social disadvantage and multidimensional inequality. To date, four frameworks have been developed: the Equality Measurement Framework (EMF), Children's Measurement Framework (CMF), and Human Rights Measurement Framework (HRMF) for the UK; and the Multidimensional Inequality Framework (MIF), developed in conjunction with Oxfam for international use. These frameworks have been used by the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission and campaign and advocacy groups. CASE research on child poverty highlighted how "money matters" in shaping children's life chances and research on the measurement of child poverty contributed to an amendment to the Welfare Reform and Work Bill committing the government to continuing to publish income-based child poverty measures.

A lifetime of engaging with neighbourhood housing management, to enhance tenant participation and meet housing needs, was recognised in the 4* world-leading grade accorded LSE Housing and Communities' Impact Case Study. It demonstrated direct influence on policy development at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (now Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities), including through the Lessons from Grenfell research programme. Through the Housing Plus Academy, which tackles key public issues of the day, such as fuel poverty, low energy efficiency, and fire safety, LSE Housing and Communities have connected social housing tenants, front-line staff, senior decision-makers, government, and third-sector organisations to promote greater inclusion of tenant and on-the-ground perspectives within housing policy.

In addition, Case Associate Stephen Jenkins' ground-breaking research has improved the measurement of top incomes and changed official practice. His Impact Case Study showed how supplementing household survey data on incomes with information from income tax data about the very richest individuals leads to more accurate estimates of income inequality levels and trends. Part of this research showed that inequality in the UK today is as high as it was just before World War II. Stephen's work directly informed how the Office for National Statistics constructed its new official data series for income inequality.

Research Excellence Framework logo in purple background

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the system by which the UK's higher education funding bodies assess the quality of research in publicly funded UK higher education institutions (HEIs). REF 2021 comprised three elements:

  • academic outputs, comprising a portfolio based on the FTE of REF-eligible staff submitted;
  • research impact, submitted as a number of impact case studies (ICSs) in proportion to the total FTE of REF-eligible staff submitted;
  • research environment, comprising the total number of research degrees awarded between 2014 and 2020, total research income received over the same time period, and an environment statement detailing how the submitting unit(s) supported research and impact over the period.

Outputs, impact and environment were weighted 60:25:15 respectively. All three elements were graded on a scale from 0 (unclassified) to 4* (world leading) and the results were published as quality profiles showing the percentage of outputs, impact and environment considered to meet each of the starred levels. Submissions were invited to 34 Units of Assessment (UoAs); LSE made 15 submissions to 13 UoAs across the SHAPE subjects.

For REF2021, HEIs were required to submit research outputs by all eligible members of staff. Each submitted member of staff could submit between one and five outputs, with the total number of outputs per UoA calculated as total FTE of staff multiplied by 2.5.

Staff were eligible for REF2021 where they were on a teaching-and-research or research-only contract of at least 0.2 FTE on 31 July 2020 and had a substantive connection to the submitting HEI. Research-only staff also had to be classified as independent researchers. HEIs were also required to identify which eligible staff had significant responsibility for research. LSE submitted 100% of its staff meeting these definitions, but other HEIs had eligible staff who did not have significant responsibility for research and hence had a submission rate of less than 100%.

See below our REF 2021 case studies.