REF Impact

The Research Excellence Framework was the first exercise to assess the impact of research outside of academia. Impact was defined as ‘an effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia’.

Impact case studies

As part of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework exercise, UK higher education institutions (HEIs) submitted 6,975 impact case studies demonstrating the impact of their research on wider society.

These case studies provide a unique and invaluable source of information on the impact of UK research. UK higher education (HE) research has wide and varied benefits on the economy, society, culture, policy, health, the environment and quality of life — both within the UK and overseas.

Universities engage with a range of public, private and charitable organisations and local communities. Analysis found that these wider impacts and benefits often stem from multidisciplinary work.

Latest report: Patterns in research outputs

'Publication patterns in research underpinning impact in REF2014 describes patterns in research outputs submitted by UK higher education institutions (HEIs) to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) and to previous Research Assessment Exercises (RAEs).

The REF impact case study database

The impact case study database is a searchable tool that will make the impact case studies widely available, and will enable analysis and automated text mining.

Read the licence arrangements relating to the use of this database.

An initial analysis of the REF impact case studies is captured in the report: ‘The nature, scale and beneficiaries of research impact’.

The REF impact case studies were analysed by Digital Science, a division of Macmillan Science & Education, working in conjunction with its sister company Nature Publishing Group and the policy institute at King’s College London. This analysis was co-funded by the UK Funding Bodies, Research Councils UK and Wellcome Trust.

Maps of impact case studies

The maps of impact case studies indicate the local and global spread of research impact for UK higher education institutions (HEIs) by impact type and research area.

They are based on the names of locations referenced in REF2014 impact case studies and categorised in the REF impact case study database.

Impact Database licence arrangements

Background to the licence arrangements for the Research Excellence Framework impact (REF) case studies

HEIs agreed to the following when making submissions to the REF:

  • The information contained in REF submissions will be published by the UK HE funding bodies
  • Prior to its publication, submitted data held by the UK HE funding bodies may be made available to selected third parties for further research.
  • Where the institution holds the copyright to materials contained in the REF submission, the Institution declares it has authority to grant the UK HE funding bodies with individual, non-exclusive, perpetual and irrevocable licences to make use of, release and publish the materials.
  • The institution confirms that any such act carried out by any of the UK HE funding bodies will not infringe the copyright (or other IPR) or other right of any third party.
  • Any request to re-use the copyrighted material will be referred to the relevant copyright owner.

The REF team published REF submissions, including the Impact case studies and all associated images, in January 2015.

Licence arrangements for the REF Impact case studies database

Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are the rights owners to their impact case studies. The licence terms below explain when you can re-use the impact case studies included within this database.

CC BY 4.0 licence permitted use

One hundred and twenty-three HEIs have agreed that their impact case studies contained within the REF impact case study database can be used under the CC BY 4.0 licence. Read the licence conditions that use is permitted under.

Read a more user-friendly version of the licence conditions. Please note this does not replace the full legal code.

The ‘Attribution’ element of the CC-BY licence requires users to give appropriate credit, provide a link to the licence, and indicate if changes are made. This means that HEIs will be appropriately credited where case studies are used. This may be done in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses the user or the use of material.

Case studies unavailable under the CC BY 4.0 licence

Thirty-one HEIs were not in a position to agree to their impact studies being made available under a CC BY 4.0 licence on the REF impact case study database. A list of HEIs where this applies is available below. In such cases, the following terms apply:

Copies for research

Although these impact case studies are not licensed under CC BY 4.0, researchers can still make copies of any copyright material under fair dealing provisions, for example to conduct text and data mining. They can do this without having to obtain additional permission to make these copies from the rights holder, noting that making multiple copies such as putting the case study on a shared drive, computer network, intranet or website is not usually permitted under fair dealing provisions. Researchers are only permitted to make copies within the fair dealing provisions for non-commercial research or where otherwise permitted by law. If in doubt, you should seek clarification and permission from the relevant rights holder (the HEI that submitted the case study in the first instance) including in instances where you would like to re-use the impact case studies in publications and for other purposes.

Other users

Specific fair dealing provisions are also available for others, including students. Read more information about fair dealing provisions.

Changes to published impact case studies

It is our aim that, as far as possible, the content of the REF impact case study database will replicate the REF submissions data (including containing images). However, there are circumstances where a case study will be accessible via the REF submissions data only.

Requests for case studies to be further redacted or removed will be considered for the main REF website, although we cannot guarantee they will be accepted. Please be aware that they have now been available since January 2015.

We cannot change or replace impact cases studies within the database. Requests for case studies to be removed from the database will be considered, although we cannot guarantee they will be accepted.

The case studies for the following HEIs cannot be used under the CC BY 4.0 licence

  • Birmingham City University
  • Bishop Grosseteste University
  • Cardiff University
  • Harper Adams University
  • Imperial College London
  • Newcastle University
  • Norwich University of the Arts
  • Queen Mary University of London
  • Queen's University of Belfast
  • Rose Bruford College
  • St Mary's University College (Belfast)
  • The Institute of Cancer Research
  • The London School of Economics and Political Science
  • The Robert Gordon University1
  • The Royal Academy of Music
  • The School of Oriental and African Studies
  • The University of Bolton
  • The University of East Anglia
  • The University of Southampton
  • The University of Surrey
  • The University of York
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Central Lancashire
  • University of Durham
  • University of Glasgow2
  • University of the Arts, London
  • University of Ulster

1. This includes impact case studies in their Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy joint submission with University of the Highlands and Islands

2. This includes impact case studies in their Chemistry joint submission with University of Strathclyde

Contact us

For further information please contact us at researchpolicy@re.ukri.org

Licence arrangement FAQs

  1. Why are the case studies published with a commercial (rather than non-commercial) licence?
  2. What did HEIs agree to by submitting to the REF?
  3. Who owns the copyright to the impact case studies?
  4. Who are the proposed users of the database?
  5. Has Section 5 'Sources to corroborate the impact' of the impact case studies been published?
  6. Who is responsible for the costs of pursuing legal action?
  7. What are users of the REF impact case study database currently permitted to do with the REF impact case studies?
  8. If an HEI would like to make changes, further redact or remove a case study from the database, will representations be accepted to do this?
  9. What are the licence arrangements for case studies provided within a joint submission?

1. Why are the case studies published with a commercial (rather than non-commercial) licence?


The former HEFCE, and similar bodies are encouraged by the government to use the Open Government Licence (or equivalent) for its own copyrighted material. The CC BY licence is compatible with the Open Government Licence.

Applying the CC BY licence to the case studies within the database allows the database to be available in a freely accessible and flexible way, removing barriers to the use of the tool. Using a CC BY licence allows the case studies to be cited as much as possible, without restriction. Extended demonstration of the value of higher education (HE) research will provide better evidence to inform decisions about continued research funding in the sector. The licence allows anybody, including UK HEIs to exploit the whole set of case studies for commercial purposes. Commercial users of the data will still be required to attribute the HEI as the copyright owner.

We do not wish to impose the restrictions of a non-commercial licence as commercial reuse may be of benefit to the sector. The difference between commercial and non-commercial works is often difficult to distinguish and this confusion is most easily removed by allowing both commercial and non-commercial use. Creative Commons does not recommend use of its NonCommercial (NC) or NoDerivatives (ND) licences on databases intended for scholarly or scientific use.

2. What did HEIs agree to by submitting to the REF?


HEIs granted, to each of the UK higher education funding bodies individual, non-exclusive, perpetual and irrevocable licences to make use of, release and publish the material as specified in the REF Submissions confirmation text. Institutions confirmed that any such act carried out by any of the UK higher education funding bodies would not infringe the copyright (or any other intellectual property right) or other right of any third party.

The agreement that HEIs gave as part of their REF submission authorisation will allow users to search the database and undertake their own analysis. Researchers can make copies of any copyright material under fair dealing provisions (and conduct text and data mining). They will be able to do this without having to obtain additional permission to make these copies from the rights holder. This only permits the making of copies within the fair dealing provisions for non-commercial research. If any user wishes to re-use material from the database for another purpose they will need to seek permission from the relevant copyright holder (the HEI who submitted the case study in the first instance) including making multiple copies, for example to put the work on a shared drive, computer network, intranet or website.

At the time of submission, the funding bodies committed to referring any requests to re-use the copyrighted material to the relevant copyright owner. The request to publish the case studies with a CC BY licence would replace this commitment and would permit re-use without individual requests being made to the HEI each time.

The impact case study database published on 25 March 2015, allows the above use.

3. Who owns the copyright to the impact case studies?


The institution will still retain the copyright to the case studies they submitted. Applying a CC BY licence to the case studies does not transfer ownership.

4. Who are the proposed users of the database?


Potential users of the database may include researchers, policy makers, businesses and those interested in research impact. We expect the audience to be primarily scholarly or scientific; however it is possible that others may also be interested anywhere in the world and for a range of purposes that we cannot foresee. We anticipate that should the existence of the case studies become more widely known; the greater the benefit will be to UK HE.

5. Has Section 5 'Sources to corroborate the impact' of the impact case studies been published?


Yes. We previously agreed with the HE sector that we would publish the full PDF document submitted to REF, this includes Section 5, unless otherwise redacted from publication. The corroborating source contact details that were submitted separately to the case study documents or any corroborating statements provided to the REF team as part of the REF audit procedures have not been published. Section 5 has also been published as part of the REF submissions data on the main REF website as previously planned and advised.

6. Who is responsible for the costs of pursuing legal action?


Only the owner of a work (or an exclusive licensee) can bring legal action for breach of copyright. We would expect institutions, as the owners of the case studies, to consider pursuing any legal action if they concluded their ownership of the copyright or other intellectual property rights (IPR) had been materially breached.

7. What are users of the REF impact case study database currently permitted to do with the REF impact case studies?


123 HEIs have agreed that their impact case studies contained within the REF impact case study database can be used under the CC BY 4.0 licence. Use is permitted under these licence conditions.

A more user-friendly version of the licence is available but does not replace the full legal code.

The ‘Attribution’ element of the CC-BY licence requires users to give appropriate credit, provide a link to the licence, and indicate if changes are made. This means that HEIs will be appropriately credited where case studies are used.This may be done in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses the user or the use of material.

31 HEIs were not in a position to agree to their impact studies being made available under a CC BY 4.0 licence on the REF impact case study database. A list of HEIs where this applies is available below. In such cases, the following terms apply:

Copies for research

 

Although these impact case studies are not licensed under CC BY 4.0, researchers can still make copies of any copyright material under fair dealing provisions, for example to conduct text and data mining. They can do this without having to obtain additional permission to make these copies from the rights holder, noting that making multiple copies such as putting the case study on a shared drive, computer network, intranet or website is not usually permitted under fair dealing provisions. Researchers are only permitted to make copies within the fair dealing provisions for non-commercial research or where otherwise permitted by law. If in doubt, you should seek clarification and permission from the relevant rights holder (the HEI that submitted the case study in the first instance) including in instances where you would like to re-use the impact case studies in publications and for other purposes.

Other users

Specific fair dealing provisions are also available for others, including students.

 

The case studies for the following HEIs cannot be used under the CC BY 4.0 licence

  • Birmingham City University
  • Bishop Grosseteste University
  • Cardiff University
  • Harper Adams University
  • Imperial College London
  • Newcastle University
  • Norwich University of the Arts
  • Queen Mary University of London
  • Queen's University of Belfast
  • Rose Bruford College
  • St Mary's University College (Belfast)
  • The Institute of Cancer Research
  • The London School of Economics and Political Science
  • The Robert Gordon University1
  • The Royal Academy of Music
  • The School of Oriental and African Studies
  • The University of Bolton
  • The University of East Anglia
  • The University of Southampton
  • The University of Surrey
  • The University of York
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Central Lancashire
  • University of Durham
  • University of Glasgow2
  • University of the Arts, London
  • University of Ulster

1 This includes impact case studies in their Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy joint submission with University of the Highlands and Islands

2 This includes impact case studies in their Chemistry joint submission with University of Strathclyde

8. If an HEI would like to make changes, further redact or remove a case study from the database, will representations be accepted to do this?


We cannot change or replace impact cases studies within the database. Requests for case studies to be removed from the database will be considered, although we cannot guarantee they will be accepted. Please email researchpolicy@re.ukri.org for further information.

9. What are the licence arrangements for case studies provided within a joint submission?


Each HEI that has contributed to the joint submission would be required to agree to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Licence in order for this to be applied to those case studies. All case studies submitted as part of a join submission are considered to be jointly owned by all HEIs and we will not recognise or identify one HEI as the sole author of such a case study.

Maps of impact case studies

The maps indicate the local and global spread of research impact for UK higher education institutions (HEIs) by impact type and research area, based on the names of locations referenced submitted in REF2014 impact case studies and categorised in the REF impact case study database.