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 showing University building and subject areas

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 of Sociological Studies is also pleased to announce that 66 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. 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. This research won the Outstanding Societal Impact in the ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize 2019.

We are extremely proud of the partnerships and collaborations that have led to our success and will be celebrating with the whole research community who have made these achievements possible.

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 ground breaking 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.

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.