REF 2021 - Privacy notice for staff

REF 2021 Staff Data Collection Statement

The University of Salford is the “Data Controller” of your personal data and is subject to the data protection legislation and to the General Data Protection Regulation 2016 (“GDPR”). We are registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) registration number Z469563X and our Data Protection Officer is Andrew Hartley.

We understand the importance of individuals’ privacy rights and we are committed to complying with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the GDPR. This privacy notice is to let you know how we use personal data that is submitted to the Research Excellence Framework (REF).

We know that there is a lot of information here, but we want you to be fully informed. We hope the following sections will answer any questions you have, but if not, please do get in touch with us.

Why we are collecting data

Under the GDPR we have to have justification (“lawful basis”) for obtaining your information and for Staff we believe this is:


The legal basis for this is your contract of employment.

For sensitive personal data, we will only process this without your permission when we have the legal authority to do so or where we have an obligation to do so, for example, under Schedule 1 of the Data Protection Act 2018.

Public Task

To ensure that we can carry out our role as an educational and research establishment, meeting legal, moral and contractual obligations, as laid out in the University’s Charter.

How do we use your information?

The Research Excellence Framework 2021 (REF 2021) is an exercise which assesses the quality of UK research and informs the selective distribution of public funds for research by the four UK higher education funding bodies. The REF is managed by a central REF team, based at Research England (RE), on behalf of the four UK higher education funding bodies.

If you are a researcher who has been included as part of our submission to the REF 2021, in 2020 we will send some of the information we hold about you to UKRI for the purpose of the REF 2021. The information will not be in coded form and your name and details such as your date of birth, research groups, and contract dates will be provided along with details of your research. If you have declared individual circumstances and the UoS REF team make a request to allow a reduction in the number of outputs submitted, without penalty, some details of your personal circumstances will be provided.

You can find further information about what data are being collected on the REF website, at, in particular publication 2019/01, ‘Guidance on submissions’.

When do we collect data?

We collect data about you at various stages in your relationship with us. This may be:

  • When you first applied to us for a job, then thereafter when we require additional information from you based on your role at the University;
  • When we obtained a reference or details of your previous employment history;
  • Throughout your time as an employee, e.g. performance, health, etc.

Types of data collected about you

We will collect and use the following categories of data for our REF 2021 submission:

Data held about you by the University of Salford as your employer                                 

As employees or former employees of the University, we will use the following data which we have collected during your period of employment with us:

  • 3-year research plan outcome and assessment to determine eligibility for REF submission (see our REF Code of Practice on the intranet at;
  • 3-year research plan information to develop the narrative for the REF environment statements;
  • name, date of birth, ORCID and HESA identifier;
  • equality and diversity data and early career researcher status;
  • information about contract type, duration and FTE, and where we need to determine Early Career Researcher status then we may also access details you provided when you applied for your role (e.g. cv);
  • research area ('Unit of Assessment') and research group;
  • details of activities and achievements, including but not limited to: research publications (including author contributions); research funding awards and applications.

Data you provide to us

As a current employee of the University you may wish to submit additional data concerning your personal circumstances (through our staff circumstances declaration process, see Part 4 of our REF Code of Practice) and this may include details of circumstances that have affected your productivity throughout the REF period, including but not limited to:

  • qualifying as an Early Career Researcher;
  • absence from work as a result of secondments / career breaks outside the HE sector;
  • periods of family-related leave;
  • disability (including chronic conditions);
  • ill heath, injury or mental health conditions;
  • constraints relating to family leave that fall outside of the standard allowances;
  • caring responsibilities;
  • gender reassignment; and
  • Other circumstances relating to characteristics protected by the Equality Act 2010, or relating to activities protected by employment legislation.

Details on the procedure for the declaration of personal circumstances can be found on the REF Equality and Diversity web pages.

Note that information on those members of staff who meet the REF definition of an early career researcher will be collected for the University to include in the 2019/20 HESA staff return. This information will only be used for REF purposes where it is voluntarily declared by members of staff as part of the process to collect staff circumstances information.

Who do we share your information with?

Within the University

Your data will be shared by the University with staff who need to view it as part of their role in preparing the REF 2021 submission and also staff involved with the future administration of the three-year research plans. This includes staff working in Professional Services within Research & Knowledge Exchange (RKE), a Lead or Deputy for the specific Unit of Assessment to which you will be returned (see list of academic staff involved in submission preparations on our REF intranet), your School Impact Coordinator, personnel teams including Human Resources and committees set up for the development of the REF submission as detailed in our REF Code of Practice.

With third parties

Your data will be shared additionally with the following third parties:

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)

UKRI may pass your data, or parts of it, to any of the following organisations that need it to inform the selective distribution of public funds for research and to carry out their statutory functions connected with funding higher education:

  • Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland (DfE)
  • Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW)
  • Scottish Funding Council (SFC).

UKRI and the organisations listed above will use the information to analyse and monitor the REF 2021. This may result in information being released to other users including academic researchers or consultants (commissioned by the funding bodies), to carry out research or analysis, in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (Regulation (EU) 2016/679). Where information not previously published is released to third parties, this will be anonymised where practicable.

UKRI will require that anyone who has access to your data, held in UKRI’s records, paper or electronic, will respect its confidentiality and will only process it in accordance with instructions issued for the purposes specified by UKRI.

Parts of your data will be passed to the REF expert panels and the Equality and Diversity Advisory Panel (whose members are independent of UKRI) for the purpose of conducting a systematic evaluation of submissions, in accordance with predetermined criteria and methods. Panels will make judgments about the material contained in submissions and will not form quality judgments about individuals. All panel members are bound by confidentiality arrangements.

You can find further details about the data being collected by UKRI on the REF website. In particular publication 2019/01, ‘Guidance on submissions’ (paragraphs 151-201) provides more detail about reductions in outputs and the information that needs to be submitted.

Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA)

Some of your data (Unit of Assessment, HESA staff identifier code and date of birth) will be passed to HESA to enable it to verify coded data returned to it as part of our HESA staff return (see Data returned to the REF will be linked to that held on the HESA staff record to allow UKRI and the organisations listed above to conduct additional analysis into the REF and fulfil their statutory duties under the Equality Act 2010 (England, Wales and Scotland) or the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (Northern Ireland).

External reviewers

Textual parts of the REF 2021 submission (for example, impact case studies and environment templates) may be shared with third party external reviewers during the process of submission development.

Publishing information about your part in our submission

The results of the assessment exercise will be published by UKRI, on behalf of the four UK higher education funding bodies, in December 2021. The published results will not be based on individual performance nor identify individuals.

Those parts of submissions that contain factual data and textual information about research activity will also be published by UKRI, on behalf of the four UK higher education funding bodies, and will be made available online. Published information is likely to include textual information including impact case studies in which you may be referenced. Your name and job title may be included in this textual information.  Other personal and contractual details, including your date of birth and all information about individual staff circumstances will be removed.

Unless redacted, the information to be published by UKRI, on behalf of the four UK higher education funding bodies, will include a single list of all the outputs submitted by us in each Unit of Assessment. The list of outputs will include standard bibliographic data for each output, but will not be listed by author name.

Data about personal circumstances

You may voluntarily declare personal circumstances to your submitting unit, which could permit us to submit your information to the REF without the ‘minimum of one’ output requirement (without penalty), or to submit a reduced number of outputs without penalty.  If (and only if) we apply either form of reduction of outputs, we will need to provide UKRI with individual-level data that you have declared about your individual circumstances, to show that the criteria have been met for reducing the number of outputs. Please see the ‘Guidance on submissions’ document (paragraphs 151-201) for more detail about reductions in outputs and what information needs to be submitted.

Submitted data will be kept confidential to the REF team, the Equality and Diversity Advisory Panel, and main panel chairs. All these bodies are subject to confidentiality arrangements. Details on the processes to collect and anonymise circumstances data are provided in the REF Code of Practice. The collection of circumstances information will be organised by the Inclusion and Diversity Manager who will anonymise the data before it is considered against the criteria provided in the REF guidance on submissions (REF2019/01). The REF team will destroy the submitted data about individuals’ circumstances on completion of the assessment phase in December 2021.

We will send to Research England a report that will include a summary of all voluntarily declared personal circumstances, whether or not they were used to reduce the output requirements.  This report will only contain data in aggregated form and will not contain information that will identify individual members of staff.

How long do we keep your data for?

We will retain your data to support the University’s REF 2021 submission and this will include any legal, accounting, or reporting requirements. Specifically, we will retain all data used in the development of the REF submission until completion of the REF audit process, and will retain a copy of the staff, outputs, impact and environment submission after submission, in order to facilitate future REF submissions.

Data is retained for as long as it is required to perform its purpose, or for as long as is required by law. At the end of that retention period, your data will either be deleted completely or anonymised, for example by aggregation with other data so that it can be used in a non-identifiable way for statistical analysis and business planning.

View our Records Retention Schedule for further details.

How can you find out what information we hold on you?

University of Salford

Under Article 15 of the GDPR individuals have a right of access to their own personal data held by the University of Salford. A request for all such information is called a Subject Access Request or SAR.

Under the GDPR the individual is entitled to:

  • A description of the data
  • The recipients of the data shared
  • Information about any automated decisions that have been made
  • A copy of the data on request

All the above must be returned to the requesting individual within one month and at no cost.

If you would like to exercise your Right of Access please submit a request using the SAR form.

If you wish to exercise any of your other rights then please email us at:

If you have any questions about REF2021 you can contact us at:

Further information relating to the University of Salford’s Privacy Notice and Data Protection guidelines.


Under the Data Protection Act 2018 and the GDPR, you have the right to request a copy of any personal information that UKRI holds about you. Further information about the Act and GDPR, and guidance on making a subject access request, can be found on the RE website.

If you have any concerns about your information being used for these purposes, please contact:

Data Protection Officer
UK Research and Innovation
Polaris House
Swindon, SN2 1FL