Privacy notice

Privacy notice for REF2021 Staff (and Former Staff) Data Collection

Updated on 22 March 2022

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About the REF

The purpose of the Research Excellence Framework 2021 (REF2021) is to assess the quality of UK research and to inform the selective distribution of public funds for research by the four UK higher education funding bodies. The REF is managed by the REF team, based at Research England (RE), on behalf of the four UK higher education funding bodies. RE is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and under this arrangement UKRI has the role of 'data controller' for personal data submitted by us to the REF.

Your data

For the purposes of participating in the REF2021 the University processes information relating to current and former staff:

  • Information on staff in post on the census date of 31 July 2020, with significant responsibility for research (as defined in the University’s REF 2021 Code of Practice)
  • Information about former staff employed during the REF assessment period, to whom submitted research outputs are attributed

The personal data required for this task is:

  • HESA staff identifier and/or staff number
  • Name (initials and surname)
  • Date of birth
  • Marital status (excluding civil partnerships – see below)
  • Open research and contributor ID (ORCID) (where held)
  • Job title/position
  • Grade
  • Contracted hours/FTE
  • Research connection to submitted unit, where the individual’s FTE is between 0.2 and 0.29
  • Information about contract type and any secondments/periods of unpaid leave, including dates
  • Whether any personal data should be omitted from the published data for specific reasons, such as commercial sensitivity or security
  • If the person is an Early Career Researcher (ECR), the date of commencement of ECR status

The legal basis for this processing is the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or the official authority of the data controller (the University or UKRI).

You may choose to disclose special category information that will be processed by the University:

  • Information about protected characteristics including: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage (civil partnership), race, religion or religious beliefs and sexual orientation
  • Information about any maternity and pregnancy, paternity, adoption/surrogacy, shared parental leave and time off for dependants, or other caring responsibilities, including dates where the disclosure of this information reveals something concerning the special categories of personal data (e.g. healthcare information)
  • Information about ill health, injury or mental health conditions

The legal basis for this processing is 'carrying out the obligations and exercising specific rights…in the field of employment or social security or social protection law' (Equality Act).

Data controller

The University of Dundee is the data controller for your information whilst processed by the University. When personal data is passed to UKRI for their purposes, UKRI becomes the data controller for the information processed by them. Please refer to UKRI’s privacy notices for more information concerning their processing of your personal data.

Where your personal data, including your special categories of personal data, are processed by the University of Dundee, the University’s normal data processors will be used to manage your information. This includes Microsoft 365 (the University’s productivity software) and (a file sync and share solution) and Discovery/Pure (the University’s Current Research Information System).

You may voluntarily disclose personal circumstances, which could allow us to submit your information to the REF without the ‘minimum of one’ requirement (without penalty), or to submit a reduced number of outputs without penalty in a unit. If (and only if) we apply either form of reduction of outputs, we will need to provide UKRI with data that you have disclosed about your individual circumstances, to show that the criteria have been met for reducing the number of outputs.

More information about this is available in the ‘Guidance on submissions’ document (paragraphs 151-201) and in our Code of Practice (section 4.4 Staff Circumstances).

Individual Staff Circumstances Disclosure Forms will be reviewed in the University by the REF Staff Circumstances and Independence Group (SCI), comprising a small group of Professional Services and Academic Staff with experience of working with confidential information (please see the University’s REF 2021 Code of Practice; Appendix 1.5).

Retention of data

All individual Staff Circumstances Disclosure Forms and associated correspondence held by the University of Dundee for the purposes of REF 2021 will be destroyed within 6 weeks of publication of the REF 2021 results. Environment statements and impact case studies will be published as part of the REF submission and may contain names, job titles and periods of employment but no other personal information will be included.

Other personal information collected as part of the REF exercise will be retained by the University as required to meet statutory obligations. Details of the University’s retention practices can be found online.

Sharing information about you

If you are a researcher who has been included as part of our submission to the REF 2021, in 2021 we will send some of the information we hold about you to UKRI for the purpose of the REF2021. The information will not be in coded form and your name and details such as your date of birth, research groups, and contract dates will be provided along with details of your research.

If you are submitted with individual circumstances that allow a reduction in the number of outputs submitted, without penalty, some details of your personal circumstances will be provided.

UKRI may pass your data, or parts of it, to any of the following organisations that need it to inform the selective distribution of public funds for research and to carry out their statutory functions connected with funding higher education:

  • Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland (DfE)
  • Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW)
  • Scottish Funding Council (SFC)

Some of your data (Unit of Assessment, HESA staff identifier code and date of birth) will also be passed to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) to enable it to verify coded data returned to it as part of the HESA staff return.


Research and Innovation Services Office

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