REF 2021

LSE results for the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF)

The REF 2021 results are a great achievement for the School and reflect the incredibly hard work done by colleagues over a number of years.

Professor Susana Mourato, Pro Director for Research

LSE’s outstanding contribution to social science research has once again been recognised by the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF). LSE is shown as the top university (of multiple submissions) in the UK based on the proportion of ‘world-leading’ (4*) research produced. LSE is also the joint second ranking university in the UK overall, when considering research outputs, research impact and research environment.

58 per cent of LSE’s research was judged to be world-leading (4*) and 35 per cent was deemed to be internationally excellent (3*).

A number of LSE departments did particularly well, with their Units of Assessment coming top overall. These are the departments of Economics, Anthropology, Social Policy, Health Policy and Media and Communications. Academics from the Departments of Gender Studies, Methodology and Psychological and Behavioural Science also contributed to these top scoring Units of Assessments.

Institutional percentages show weighted averages for 4* and 3* and weighted GPA.

View full REF results (REF UK)
View LSE's full results (LSE only, Tableau access required)

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the system by which the UK’s higher education funding bodies assess the quality of research in publicly funded UK higher education institutions (HEIs).  REF 2021 comprised three elements:

  • academic outputs, comprising a portfolio based on the FTE of REF-eligible staff submitted;

  • research impact, submitted as a number of impact case studies (ICSs) in proportion to the total FTE of REF-eligible staff submitted;

  • research environment, comprising the total number of research degrees awarded between 2014 and 2020, total research income received over the same time period, and an environment statement detailing how the submitting unit(s) supported research and impact over the period.

Outputs, impact and environment were weighted 60:25:15 respectively.  All three elements were graded on a scale from 0 (unclassified) to 4* (world leading) and the results were published as quality profiles showing the percentage of outputs, impact and environment considered to meet each of the starred levels.  Submissions were invited to 34 Units of Assessment (UoAs); LSE made 15 submissions to 13 UoAs across the SHAPE subjects.

For REF2021, HEIs were required to submit research outputs by all eligible members of staff.  Each submitted member of staff could submit between one and five outputs, with the total number of outputs per UoA calculated as total FTE of staff multiplied by 2.5.

Staff were eligible for REF2021 where they were on a teaching-and-research or research-only contract of at least 0.2 FTE on 31 July 2020 and had a substantive connection to the submitting HEI.  Research-only staff also had to be classified as independent researchers.  HEIs were also required to identify which eligible staff had significant responsibility for research.  LSE submitted 100% of its staff meeting these definitions, but other HEIs had eligible staff who did not have significant responsibility for research and hence had a submission rate of less than 100%.

View a full glossary of REF terminology.