University of Reading: Reading marks outstanding research in REF 2021

World-class research is ta­king place across every area of the University of Reading, the results of the Research Excellence Framework 2021 show (REF 2021).

Reading’s REF 2021 results, published today, are a part of the UK government assessment of the overall quality, environment, and impact of research across the UK. The exercise is the first to be undertaken since the previous assessment in 2014.

The results confirm that Reading has increased the proportion of the highest quality-research submitted for assessment, allowing Reading to maintain and grow its UK status as a research-intensive university.

Professor Robert Van de Noort, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Reading, said: “These results demonstrate the outstanding quality and breadth of research activity at the University.

“Our long-term commitment to building and strengthening research excellence is a core part of our mission. It backs up our approaches to education and allows us to share our knowledge with the world.

“I am extremely grateful to all my colleagues involved in conducting or supporting research, whose hard work is reflected in our strong institutional performance in this assessment.”

Some of the highlights from Reading’s submission included:

Archaeology: ranked first in the UK for research quality and for research impact, with 100% of impact cases studies assessed as being of four-star or three-star (‘outstanding’ or ‘very considerable’ in reach and significance)
Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences: ranked in the top 10 in the UK for research quality, and third in the UK for research power (measuring research quality and size), with 100% of the research environment considered as four-star, or ‘world-class’, for research vitality and sustainability.
Architecture, Built Environment and Planning: sixth in the UK for research power, ninth in UK for research impact, with 94% of research overall assessed as four-star (world-leading) or three-star (internationally excellent) in originality, significance or rigour.
Art & Design (Typography & Graphic Communication): Top 10 in the UK for research quality, and eighth in the UK for research impact, with 95% of research overall considered as four-star (world-leading) or three-star (internationally excellent) in its originality, significance or rigour.
Politics: sixth in the UK for research outputs, with 97% of research outputs rated as four-star (world-leading) or three-star (internationally excellent) in originality, significance or rigour.
Reading saw an overall increase in its position among UK universities, with a clear increase in the proportion of its Arts and Humanities research awarded four stars – the highest level of grading, indicating research that is world-leading in its originality, significance and rigour.

Four out of ten (40%) of all assessed research outputs were considered as four-star in 2021 – up from 27% in 2014.

Research with impact

Reading increased the level of research considered to have the highest level of four-star, or ‘outstanding’ impacts in terms of reach and significance – up from 39% in the 2014 assessment.

As assessment of research impact has played a more important role in determining institutions’ overall assessment in REF 2021.

A number of research areas recorded 100% of all assessed research impact at either four-star (‘outstanding’) or three-star (‘very significant’ reach or significance), including: Psychology, Computer Science, Archaeology, Global Development, Typography & Communication Design, Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences, Architecture, Built Environment & Planning, Business, and Art.

‘Platform for quality’

Professor Parveen Yaqoob, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and joint Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, said: “Our success in REF 2021 shows the success of the University’s research strategy, which plays a key part in Reading’s wider plans.

“There are many individual successes to celebrate in Reading’s results, and the overall picture is one of a strong platform for high-quality research, which is making a difference to people’s lives.”

Professor Dominik Zaum, joint Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, said: “This research assessment shows where the University is delivering the highest-quality research, helping us to confirm our status as a research-intensive university in an increasingly competitive environment.

“It reflects not only the quality of research outputs of more than 700 researchers, but also the work of many hundreds more, including technicians, research students, lecturers, research assistants, and professional support staff.”

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