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Department of Oncology


The results of the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF) exercise were announced on 12 May 2022.

The 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF) was a major exercise to assess the quality of research at UK universities. The exercise included submissions from 157 UK higher education institutions (HEIs) in 34 subject-based units of assessment (UOAs). These submissions were assessed by panels of experts, who produced an overall quality profile for each submission. Each overall quality profile shows the proportion of research activity judged by the panels to have met each of the four starred quality levels in steps of 1%. Learn more about the REF results

Professor Richard Gilbertson successfully led the massive undertaking of co-ordinating the University of Cambridge Unit of Assessment 1 (UoA1)- Clinical Medicine, under which the Department of Oncology's research was submitted; he is delighted to report that the UoA1 scored incredibly well in all subdomains:

UoA1 results:

Number of FTE Category A research staff returned: 363































A more detailed breakdown of the UoA1 results can be found here:

Explanation of the 3 assessment categories and star ratings system used to derive overall quality scores: 

1. Outputs (60% of overall result)
Outputs are the published or publicly available products of research, which can take many forms. These include books, monographs, chapters in books and journal articles as well as performances, exhibitions and other practice research outputs, software, patents, conference proceedings, translations, and digital and visual media. 

Outputs account for 60% of the overall outcome awarded to each submission and are assessed against three criteria: originality, significance, and rigour. 

The number of outputs each submitting unit had to submit was equal to 2.5 times the FTE of its submitted staff. Each staff member had to have at least one and no more than five outputs attributed to them in the submission. For REF 2021, to meet their total number of required outputs for submission, HEIs could also submit outputs produced by former staff who had left the institution, providing the output had been made publicly available while that former staff member was employed on an eligible basis by the submitting HEI. 

2. Impact (25% of overall result)
For REF 2021, impact is defined as the effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia.  

HEIs were required to submit impact case studies that demonstrate the impacts their research has had beyond academia. The number of impact case studies each submitting unit was required to submit was based on the FTE of the submitted staff within that unit, with a minimum of two impact case studies being required for the smallest units. A total of 6,781 impact case studies were submitted to REF 2021. 

Impact accounts for 25% of the overall outcome awarded to each submission. Impact case studies were assessed against two criteria: reach and significance.

3. Environment (15% of overall result)
For REF 2021, ‘environment’ means the environment for supporting research and enabling impact within each submitting unit. Environment accounts for 15% of the overall outcome awarded to each submission and is assessed against two criteria: vitality and sustainability. 

HEIs were required to submit narrative evidence of the environment to support research and enable impact within each unit, alongside data on research income, research income in kind, and completed doctoral degrees. The maximum length of the narrative statement that each submitting unit provided was determined by the FTE of the submitted staff within that unit. 

HEIs were also required to submit an institutional level environment statement as part of a pilot of the assessment of institutional environment. These institutional level narratives were used by the sub-panels to inform and contextualise their assessment, but were not scored as part of the REF 2021 sub-profiles. A standalone assessment of institutional environment statements is being separately piloted by the Institutional Level Environment Pilot Panel. 

Click here to learn more about how the quality of each of the 3 elements was graded based on a star rating system.

Information about the University of Cambridge REF results as a whole can be found here.