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Research Independence Panel Terms of Reference

Terms of reference and procedural rules for the Research Independence Panel, which determines the independence status of academic staff submitting to REF 2021.



To collect, review and assess information in regards to research independence and/or Early Career Research status of staff in ‘Research only’ or in ‘Research & Teaching’ contracts and make recommendations to the Staff Circumstances Panel.


  • To receive anonymised reports from the Research Independence Section of the ‘REF2021 – special circumstances survey’ and assess staff on ‘Research Only’ contracts who meet the definition of research independence

  • To receive anonymised reports from the ‘REF2021 – special circumstances survey’ and assess staff on ‘Research and Teaching’ contracts who achieved independence during the REF2021 assessment period and can therefore be classed as ‘Early Career Researchers’ (ECRs)

  • To make recommendations to the Staff Circumstances Panel regarding research independence and ECRs

  • To ensure that decisions are consistent, transparent and robust and taken by those with relevant knowledge, expertise and awareness of equality legislation

  • To consider, record and address the potential equal opportunity impacts of decisions made by the Panel (in accordance with the ‘due regard’ provisions of the Equality Act 2010)

  • To maintain strict confidentiality, at all times, regarding information about individual circumstances

Reports to

An anonymised summary of this Panel’s recommendations will be reviewed by the Staff Circumstances Panel.

Formal minutes will be produced, but to maintain confidentiality these will not be publicly available.

Constitution and membership

Membership is appointed by the Dean. It will include:

  • the Dean (Chair)
  • one representative per Department/Division in the Faculty/School who is a senior member of staff but not involved in REF decision making processes
  • Project Manager (Research) as Secretary

To ensure consistency the membership will be fixed until the REF2021 process is completed.

Quorum: The meeting will be quorate if the Secretary, Chair plus half of the remaining members are present.



  • 31 October 2019 HSS
  • 4 November 2019 SoM
  • 4 November 2019 Science
  • 7 November 2019 E&D

  • 6 January 2020 SoM

  • 8 January 2020 E&D

  • 9 January 2020 H&SS

  • 9 January 2020 Science


  • 1 September 2020 SoM
  • 2 September 2020 E&D
  • 3 September 2020 H&SS
  • 3 September 2020 Science


If you have any questions, please contact us.

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