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Outputs Submission

Outputs Submission

The REF 2021 submission requires evidence of all outputs, which can be supplied in a variety of formats. Research England has specified a preference for electronic copies of outputs where possible, although hard copies will be accepted if no alternative is available.

All PDFs must be submitted ASAP and no later than Friday 5th February please.

Where a DOI is not available, the Exeter REF File Uploader should be used for uploading PDFs of outputs (you will need to be connected to the VPN in order to use this. Click here for instructions). 

As well as outputs, the file uploader should also be used to upload final environment templates and impact case studies to the Exeter REF team. For guidance on using the file uploader for environment templates, please see this guidance and if you have further questions contact Grace Williams, and for guidance on using the file uploader for impact case studies, please click here or if you have further questions contact Lucy Reichwald.

  • Please use the File Uploader if you have an output without a DOI (connect to the VPN first). If you have a DOI on Symplectic, you do not need to use the file uploader. Research England would prefer electronic copies of outputs where possible rather than physical copies. There is no need to inform the REF team when an output has been uploaded but UoAs are welcome to inform when all the electronic copies of outputs for that UoA have been submitted.
  • All PDFs must be submitted ASAP and no later than Friday 5th February please.
  • If you need to re-upload a PDF to the file uploader (e.g. if you have sourced a better quality version), please do so via the same method, but please inform when you have re-uploaded your output.
  • If a final version of the output is not available as a PDF, then a proof, author accepted manuscript or other equivalent version of the output in PDF form is acceptable.
    • All info should be included in the PDF, including title page, full referencing info, images and index.
  • For Journal Articles (D) and Conference Proceedings (E) where a DOI has been submitted on Symplectic, typically no further action is required. However, if Research England cannot retrieve the publication via a DOI from publishers, we will be notified and you will be asked to upload a PDF instead. On 21st December we will undertake our first upload into the REF submission portal; from 11th January we will be in contact if Research England have been unable to retrieve the publication.
  • All other outputs must be provided in electronic format or hard copy. PDFs are encouraged. An electronic copy should be provided if this is already in existence over a hard copy.
  • Books, monographs and other long-form outputs (A, B, and R) submitted via PDF should include the entire text (from title page to end of index and including all referencing info and bibliography). 500MB max for files. Suggested 150dpi for images. Please contact if files are too large.
  • PDFs that have been converted from other formats (such as eBooks) are acceptable, subject to appropriate copyright and licensing permissions.
  • Chapters in books (C) should be submitted as a PDF and should provide the chapter, contents page, relevant reference info, bibliography and relevant images etc. Full publication details should also be submitted within the PDF.
  • If the author of the chapter is also a (co-)editor of the book, please confirm if the submission is intended to be just the chapter (Output Type C) or if the intention is to submit all aspects of the output by the author (introduction, specific chapter, conceptual framing etc.,). If the latter, the item should be uploaded against Output Type B and listed in Symplectic as an Edited book.
  • If an output is not already in PDF format, a file of ‘sufficient quality’ should be created, i.e. easily readable and an accurate representation. Direct conversion to PDF (rather than scanning) should be done where possible to keep down file sizes. Avoid scanning high resolution if possible.
  • There is a 100MB file size limit for files except for outputs A and B (authored or edited book – 500MB). If a PDF of sufficient quality cannot be created under 100MB, then a physical output should be submitted i.e. CD, DVD, USB, hard copy. For technical guidance on creating PDF outputs, please check the webpage on the REF website Submitting Research outputs.
  • Hard copy books, CDs, DVDs, USBs are all acceptable formats.
  • Hard copy items of great value or rarity should not be deposited (e.g. artefacts, devices etc.) – this relates specifically to Outputs type ADD – a representation and sufficient information should be provided instead. The real item should be made available if REF reviewers wish to see it.
  • Each physical output should be provided separately i.e. not on the same USB. Separate copies should be provided for separate UOAs.
  • Physical outputs will not be returned to the institutions by Research England.
  • Physical or hard copy items should be sent or hand-delivered (with the name of the person it is attributed to, unit of assessment, contact details in case there is a problem, and any other important details e.g. specific chapter)
  • If a member of the UoA/DoR or College administrative support team is delivering by hand at the Streatham Campus, please use the click and drop service for the Mail Room located at the Old Library. Due to Covid-19, there is currently no provision to deliver by hand to the Penryn Campus, so please consider postal or collection alternatives (see below). All parcels should be clearly marked with: REF Outputs, REF Office, Hope Hall, Exeter.
  • If you or a member of your UoA are posting physical outputs, please ensure they are safely packaged and send to:

REF Office
c/o University of Exeter
Central Mailroom
The Old Library
Prince of Wales Road

  • If for any reason the output cannot be posted or hand delivered, a home collection may be able to be arranged – please quote 'REF2021 Collection'. Please contact if this is required. If possible, please use this sparingly.

Websites and other outputs that can change over time (e.g. databases) should be provided as a URL or DOI within Symplectic, and should be submitted as the version that was first made publicly available before 31st Dec 2020.

Please check here for further guidance and method on how to submit a point in time copy. A copy of the ‘frozen’ site on a separate server or USB is acceptable (plus other methods). Proof of date of public release and of exact content at that time should be available for audit.  

Hosting of media on 3rd party sites is ok for video or audio only, and if we cannot host it on our own site. The third party site must be able to evidence when the video/audio was last uploaded/updated. The 3rd party site should not require a login, and should allow anonymous viewing.

If you have any concerns over the guidance provided, please discuss this initially with your Director of Research, Research Services Business Partners and College Administrative Support. UoAs in Panels A and B might typically find they will have less than 10 outputs that they will need to provide electronically or as a hard copy. For UoAs in Panels C and D it might typically range from around 10 to 100 outputs which will need to be provided electronically or as a hard copy.

Further information can be found at:
Annex K of the REF submission guidance
Annex C of the REF Panel criteria and working method
The REF web page Submitting Research outputs
The UoE web page FAQs