the hidden REF

Celebrating all research outputs

The hidden REF is a competition that recognises all research outputs and every role that makes research possible.

Submissions to the competition have now closed, but our main purpose, which is to campaign for a broader recognition of the work and the people who are vital to research, continues.

We crowd-sourced submission categories to construct a broad set of categories that we hope will recognise everyone who contributes to the success of research.

Submissions opened on 14th December 2020 and closed on 14th May 2021. They will be reviewed by panels drawn from across the research community and winners will be announced at an award ceremony in September 2021.

Find out more about the hidden REF

Read about the Hidden REF in the news

Why do we need the hidden REF?

Research has changed. We rely on many people and many different skills to conduct research.

Recognition of research excellence has not kept pace with changes in research roles.

The hidden REF looks past traditional metrics to reward everyone who contributes to research.

There’s more to research than publications

In the last REF


research outputs registered


of these outputs were based on publications

Only 3%

of outputs represented all other contributions made to research

“Research isn’t an individual endeavour. It benefits from all the knowledge that came before it, and must pay its dues to the discoveries still to come.

Neil Chue Hong
Software Sustainability Institute

“Imaging is essential to driving life science research discoveries and requires significant support from many individuals, whose contributions often go unrecognised”

Maddy Parsons
Nikon Imaging Centre@King’s  

“Across the healthcare system, particularly in academia and NHS, data science roles are often classified as support and they are seen as back room staff.”

Georgina Moulton
Health Data Research – UK

“Technical staff make vital contributions to research and innovation, but historically, their input can often go unrecognised. Research is a team sport – it’s critical we recognise the diverse roles and skills that collectively enable excellence.”

Kelly Vere
Director, Technician Commitment

Copyright (c) 2020 the University of Southampton on behalf of the hidden REF