REF 2014

Strong Performance for Natural Sciences in the Research Excellence Framework 2014

The recent Research Excellence Framework (REF2014) confirmed Keele's position as a leading university for research of world-class quality and international excellence. The REF assesses the quality of research in all higher education institutions in the UK and the results showed that 97% of the research conducted at Keele was classified as world leading and of international importance, with top-rated research in all three Faculties. Performance during the REF is directly related to central funding and the excellent results gained by Keele resulted in an overall increase in research funding of 18% for 2015-16.

The Faculty of Natural Sciences returned over 93 staff across 9 Units of Assessment. Performance across all submissions was very strong, with each showing significant improvement from RAE2008 and, in particular, all submissions showing a significant increase in the volume of world leading (4*) and internationally excellent (3*) research. As a direct result, research funding into the Faculty for 2015-16 increased by 34% compared to the previous year. The results also show that research within the Faculty of Natural Sciences is having a genuine impact on the world around us, with all submission areas having world-leading examples where society has benefited from our research.

Here are some notable highlights: 

A3 Allied Health Professions

This submission proved to be outstanding, being ranked in the top 19% overall and ranked first nationally for 3* and 4* impact. Across the submission, 42% of the research was graded as world leading and 90% was either world leading or internationally excellent.

The panel noted genuine strength of outputs in all parts of the submission, an exemplary approach to impact and extensive international collaborations.

The submission was also praised for its Athena SWAN Silver award and HR Excellence in Research Award.

A4 Psychology

Across the submission, 42% of the research was graded as either world leading or internationally excellent. A particular highlight was a world leading (4*) impact case study on young people’s wellbeing.

The panel noted good mechanisms and practices for promotion of research and sustaining a research culture.

A5 Biological Sciences

Across the submission, 42% of the research was graded as either world leading or internationally excellent. The panel noted in particular a well-developed strategic approach to impact and one of the submitted impact case studies on monitoring and control of insect pests was graded as world leading (4*).

The strength of income, infrastructure, facilities and interdisciplinary research was praised.

B7 Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences

Across the submission, 57% of the research was graded as either world leading or internationally excellent.

The panel noted a well-defined organisation and versatile strategy based on the ‘sustainability hub’ which yielded some world leading (4*) outputs.

B9 Physics

Across the submission, 42% of the research was graded as either world leading or internationally excellent. The panel noted a substantial improvement from RAE2008 and, in particular, a significant improvement in PhD completions supported by Keele funding.

One of the submitted impact case studies, on public engagement in Astrophysics, was judged to be internationally excellent.  

B10 Mathematical Sciences

Across the submission, 71% of the research was graded as either world leading or internationally excellent.

The panel noted substantial increases in research income and PhD completions and praised the strong collaborative links through European and other networks.

B11 Computer Science

Across the submission, 46% of the research was graded as either world leading or internationally excellent. The panel noted internationally excellent outputs in all parts of the submission, steady levels of research income from RCUK, and encouraging numbers of research students. It also praised the strategy that was described for sustainable research.

B15 General Engineering

This submission also proved to be outstanding, being ranked in the top third nationally. Across the submission, 89% of the research was graded as either world leading or internationally excellent. All parts of the submission had some world leading (4*) outputs and one of the submitted impact case studies on cell therapy was also judged to be world leading (4*).

The panel noted real growth in research funding over the assessment period, with particularly impressive EU funding, and praised the substantial investment in facilities.

C22 Social Policy

Across the submission, 74% of the research was graded as either world leading or internationally excellent. The panel noted that submitted researchers were embedded in a number of policy and practice sectors and praised the exemplary evidence of impacts on both government policies and local strategies and policies as well as on specific communities. The panel also praised the impressive growth in PhD awards and the vitality of national and international collaborations.