12 May 2022

Celebrating our 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

University of Sheffield celebrates its impactful research

  • 92 per cent of research and its real-world impact at the University of Sheffield has been rated as world-leading or internationally excellent.
  • 94 per cent of our research in the Department of Politics and International Relations is rated in the highest two categories in the REF 2021.
  • 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 our 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 Department is pleased to announce that 94 per cent of our research is rated in the highest two categories in the REF 2021, meaning it is classed as world-leading or internationally excellent.

Our impact submission is rated 10th nationally, showing our research is instrumental in tackling the greatest challenges of our time and making a real-world difference to people’s lives around the world. 

We are rated top nationally for the quality of our research environment, demonstrating that the Department of Politics and International Relations is a vibrant, progressive and supportive place to undertake research.

The Department is incredibly proud of its ranking as joint first for its research environment, which allows colleagues to pursue excellent research and foster meaningful partnerships with a very broad range of international organisations, NGOs, and policymakers, to make a real difference to peoples lives, locally and globally. 

Professor Ruth Blakeley

Head of the Department of Politics and International Relations

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.

Professor Sue Hartley, Vice-President for Research at the University of Sheffield, said:

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

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.

Professor Sue Hartley

Vice-President for Research, University of Sheffield

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

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. 

REF 2021 illustration

Research Excellence Framework 2021 results

The results demonstrate our research and impact excellence across a broad range of disciplines and confirm that our research is having a significant positive impact on lives across the globe.