Research excellence

100% of our impact case studies are world-leading in the REF 2021 assessment for computer science and informatics.  We also received 100% top grades for our environment statement.

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

It assesses research outputs (such as scientific papers), research impact and environment.  

Previous assessments took place in 2014 (REF) and 2008 (REA). 

Overall results for 2021

Our 2021 REF submission was joint with EPCC. 

The School of Informatics and EPCC submitted 144.04 FTE staff (the largest Unit of Assessment in our subject).

  • 100 % of our impact case studies are world-leading

  • 100 % of our research environment is world leading

  • 61 % of our research outputs are world-leading (4*) and 33.4 % are internationally excellent (3*) 

  • 76 % of our REF submission overall is world-leading and 21 % is internationally excellent 

In perspective

The methodology of assessment in 2021 has been altered as compared to 2014, however, it is worth noting:

  1. for this assessment we submitted over 50% more staff (144.04 FTE in 2021 versus 94.85 in 2014)
  2. we have improved in all categories of assessment:
  • the proportion of our overall REF submission assessed as world-leading has risen by 90%, from 40% to 76%
  • the proportion of our research outputs deemed world-leading has increased by 27%, from 48% in 2014 to 61% in 2021
  • we have more than doubled the number of impact case studies receiving the top grade, from 48% in 2014 to 100% in 2021
  • 100% of our research environment received the top grade in 2021, compared with 60% in 2014
Text saying: 1st in the UK, global reach, genuine impact superimposed over the photograph of a modern 4-floor building

THE rankings

Times Higher Education use REF results to compile league tables of research institutions. The School of Informatics and EPCC top 2021 rankings for power, market share and FTE entered. We scored 1000 for research power (UCL which is next in this category scored 699), and 7.59 for market share (UCL came second again with a score of 5.34). 

Power is calculated by multiplying the grade point average by the total number of full-time equivalent staff submitted, and then scaling that figure such that the highest score in the ranking is 1,000. Market share is a measure of how much of the 4* (world-leading) and 3* (internationally excellent) research carried out across all the submissions to a specific UoA took place at a specific university.  

These scores put us in front of other Scottish Units of Assessment in Computer Science and Informatics in each of these categories (power, FTE and market share), as well as in THE overall rankings, which combine various scores (including GPA). In the UK we are ranked 6th overall (15th in 2014 THE rankings) out of 90 in the UK, in a very close top 10, topped by Imperial College London and the University of Oxford. 

Research Professional rankings

The School of Informatics and EPCC are also ranked number 1 in a similar ranking by the Research Professional. Our submission scored 100 in their power rating which is calculated by multiplying the full-time equivalent of submitted staff by the percentage of the submission rated 4* or 3*; adjusted to a percentage of the largest value, with the top value set to 100 and all others a percentage of this. UCL, ranked 2, scored 70.42 for power, and Oxford (third) - 54.02.

Related links