Approximately one-third of research activity conducted by UK universities was judged to be world-leading in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF2014).
The research from 154 UK universities was peer-reviewed by 36 panels comprising UK and international experts and external users of research. The panels judged 30 per cent of the submitted work to be ‘world-leading’ (4*) and a further 46 per cent to be ‘internationally excellent’ (3*).
World-leading research was found across different types of university with three-quarters of institutions having at least 10 per cent of their work graded as 4*. The top quarter had at least 30 per cent graded as 4*.
A total of 6,975 impact case studies were submitted to REF2014. These describe the impact of research undertaken in UK higher education institutions. The proportion of case studies judged to have outstanding (4*) impact was 44 per cent, while a further 40 per cent were judged to have very considerable (3*) impact.
The case studies record that the impact from research in UK universities is global. Almost all countries in the world are referenced in at least one impact case study. Excluding the UK, the countries with most references are the United States, Australia and Canada, but many of the poorest countries and those with conflicts are also impacted, including Afghanistan, South Sudan and Syria.