12 May 2022

Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 results are released

The Faculty of Social Sciences is delighted with the results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, which demonstrate the quality and excellence of research conducted across the Social Sciences.

REF 2021 illustration

Research within the Faculty of Social Sciences was submitted to eight Units of Assessment as part of the REF 2021, and we are proud to have achieved the following results:

Our School of Architecture and the Departments of Landscape Architecture, Urban Studies and Planning have come 3rd nationally in the REF 2021 in terms of the quality of their research. 95 per cent of their research and impact is rated as world-leading or internationally excellent and they are rated top for the quality of their research environment nationally.

In the Department of Geography, 93 per cent of their research is rated in the highest two categories in the REF 2021* and their impact submission is rated 7th nationally.

Sheffield University Management School and the Department of Economics formed a joint submission to REF and 90 per cent of their research is rated in the highest two categories in the REF 2021. Their impact submission is rated 8th nationally.

In our School of Law, 91 per cent of their research is rated in the highest two categories in the REF 2021. Their research is rated 2nd for outputs nationally by quality (58 per cent achieved the highest possible score). 

In the Department of Politics and International Relations, 94 per cent of their research is rated in the highest two categories in the REF 2021. Their impact submission is rated 10th nationally, and they are rated top nationally for the quality of their research environment.

The Information School and Department of Journalism Studies formed a joint submission to the REF and 91 per cent of their research is rated in the highest two categories in the REF 2021. Their impact submission is rated 7th nationally and they are rated as 10th nationally for the quality of their research environment. 

In the School of Education, 86 per cent of our research is rated in the highest two categories in the REF 2021 and they are rated joint top nationally for impact submission.

In the Department of Sociological Studies, 66 per cent of their research is rated in the highest two categories in the REF 2021. We are particularly proud of Professor Kate Reed's research into baby-loss and post-mortem, which has changed the way that the NHS provides support to grieving parents.

Vice-President and Head of Faculty Professor Craig Watkins said: “I am delighted with the results of the REF 2021 across the Faculty of Social Sciences. The results that have been achieved demonstrate the strength and depth of our research excellence and its impact, and I would like to congratulate all of our colleagues, who should be proud of their achievements.”

The results of the REF 2021 highlight the impact of the research which is conducted within the Faculty of Social Sciences. Our research is changing lives and finding solutions to some of the greatest challenges of our time. Here are just some examples of how we are achieving this.

Research from Professor Joanna Shapland in the School of Law into restorative justice schemes has changed the course of rehabilitation in Scotland. 

Dr Hannah Lambie-Mumford, from the Department of Politics and International Relations, has carried out research that maps the extent of food insecurity in the UK. Her research has been discussed in the House of Commons and Hannah also worked with colleagues to map and monitor UK food insecurity during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The innovative BBC television programme The Baby Club was created in consultation with Professor Jackie Marsh from the School of Education. Jackie’s research into play and children’s use of digital technologies helped to create a programme which both babies and parents could engage with. Researchers in the School of Education have a wealth of experience in the field of children’s use of digital media and technology. The MakerFutures programme works with a number of schools and community groups to support the development of digital skills. The University of Sheffield was named in The Best Maker Schools 2021, placing the University within the world’s best Maker Schools.

Research conducted by Professor Lenny Koh from Sheffield University Management School has produced a Supply Chain Environmental Analysis Tool which is used worldwide to ensure we do not exhaust resources such as energy. The Faculty has also made an impact in other areas relating to sustainability. For example, the Department of Landscape Architecture’s Dr Ross Cameron and PhD student María del Carmen Redondo-Bermúdez development of a 'Green Barrier' for Hunter’s Bar Infant School in Sheffield. In addition to mitigating air pollution and supporting the wellbeing of pupils, this also provided learning opportunities. The project has since been expanded to some schools in Argentina. 

Professor Jackie Harrison from the Department of Journalism Studies is leading research to develop a framework to improve the collection of data on violations against journalists and allow the tracking of trends to prevent future attacks. With over 1000 journalists killed between 2022 and 2021 as a consequence of their work, this framework will help to create a safer environment for journalists in line with the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda which recognises the vital need for journalist safety.

While infant post-mortems can feel invasive to parents, they are essential to help understand the causes of death. Research into baby-loss and post-mortem led by Professor Kate Reed of the Sheffield Methods Institute and Department of Sociological Studies has helped to shape the support which the NHS provides to grieving parents.

92 per cent of research at the University of Sheffield is rated in the highest two categories in the REF 2021, meaning it is classed as world-leading or internationally excellent. The REF 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.

Find out more about the University of Sheffield and the REF 2021 here.

*Research which is rated in the highest two categories in the REF 2021 is classed as world-leading or internationally excellent

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