12 May 2022

University of Sheffield celebrates its impactful research

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 results confirm our research is changing lives and shaping the world we live in.

REF 2021 illustration
  • 92 per cent of research and its real-world impact at the University of Sheffield has been rated as world-leading or internationally excellent
  • The REF results are used to inform the allocation of around £2 billion per year of public funding for research
  • The University of Sheffield’s submission to the REF included 3,684 outputs, 114 impact case studies and 1,690 staff
  • The framework assesses the quality of research, as well as the impact of that research beyond academia, measuring the benefits of innovative collaboration with business, industry, the public sector and civil society organisations which help to translate groundbreaking ideas into real-world solutions

The University of Sheffield is today (12 May 2022) celebrating its pioneering research which is addressing some of the biggest global challenges and making a real-world impact.

The publication of the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF), a national assessment of the research taking place across UK universities, has classed 92 per cent of the University of Sheffield’s research as world-leading or internationally excellent. This reaffirms the institute's research excellence across a range of disciplines.

The REF results are used to inform the allocation of around £2 billion per year of public funding for universities’ research which aims to make a difference to people’s lives across the globe.

The framework assesses university research according to the quality of research outputs, such as journal articles, books and designs; the impact of research beyond academia, looking at the benefits of innovative collaboration with business, industry, the public sector and civil society organisations which help to translate groundbreaking ideas into real-world solutions; and the environment within universities that supports research.


I’m really proud that our REF results confirm our research is making an impact, but I’m also excited about the future. 

Professor Sue Hartley

Vice-President for Research at the University of Sheffield


She added: We’ve set ourselves an ambitious vision for our research to be world-leading and world-changing, to drive intellectual advances and address global challenges. 

“Together I would like us to build on from our REF results and continue to enable and actively promote a culture of research excellence across our community for the benefit of our University, our researchers and the wider world.” 

The University of Sheffield’s submission to the REF included 3,684 outputs, 114 impact case studies and 1,690 staff.

A number of areas of research at the University of Sheffield are in the top 10 nationally in terms of the assessment of their research and impact as world-leading or internationally excellent. Some highlights include: Physics and Astronomy - which achieved 100 per cent and came top for research and impact;  Biological Sciences - which came in the top five with 98 per cent;  Architecture, Built Environment and Planning - which came in the top three with 95 per cent and Engineering - which achieved 96 per cent and came in the top 10.

REF is a retrospective exercise looking back over seven years of ground breaking research achieved by leading researchers, and those that support the research environment. The REF is a milestone for inspiring future discoveries and continuing to make a difference to lives across the world.

Our real-world impact 

Flagship institutes

The University’s four flagship institutes bring together our key strengths to tackle global issues, turning interdisciplinary and translational research into real-world solutions.