REF 2021 privacy notices

The Data Protection Act 2018 and the GDPR require institutions to inform their staff and other stakeholders as to how data about them that are submitted to the REF will be used.

Research Excellence Framework 2021 staff privacy statement

The University of Oxford is making a single submission to Research Excellence Framework 2021 (or REF2021) on behalf of the collegiate University, and therefore this data notice applies to current and former employees of the departmental University, and current and former employees of colleges and permanent private halls.

For the purpose of the General Data Protection Regulation ('GDPR') and the Data Protection Act 2018, the ‘Data Controller’ for the processing of personal data collected in accordance with the preparations for the University’s submission to the REF2021 is the University of Oxford.

REF2021 is an exercise to assess the quality of UK research and inform the selective distribution of public funds for research by the four UK higher education funding bodies; it comprises assessment of research outputs, impact and environment related to subject areas ('units of assessment' or UOAs) and requires the submission of details of eligible staff.

Your personal data will be used to support the University’s REF2021 submission, which as a national research assessment exercise is a task we carry out in the legitimate interests of the collegiate University, and current and former employees.

Types of data we collect about you

We will collect and use the following categories of data for the REF2021 submission and in preparations for this submission:

  • Data held about you by the University of Oxford as your employer.  For employees, or former employees of the departmental university, we will use the following data which we have collected during your employment or work with us:
    • name, date of birth, ORCID and HESA identifier; information about contract type, duration and FTE; periods of leave or secondment
    • equality and diversity data and early career researcher status
    • research area ('unit of assessment') and research group
    • details of staff activities and achievements, including but not limited to: research publications, including detail of author contributions; research students supervision records; research funding awards and applications; records of appraisal and mentoring.
  • Data provided to the University of Oxford by colleges or permanent private halls (PPHs) as your employer. For current and former employees of the colleges and PPHs, we will use the following data which we have received from your employer:
    • name, date of birth, and ORCID; contract of employment, its duration and FTE; periods of leave or secondment
    • early career researcher status
    • research area ('unit of assessment') and research group
    • details of staff activities and achievements, including but not limited to: research publications, including detail of author contributions; research student supervision record; research funding awards and applications; records of appraisal and mentoring.

For details of how staff records will be used to determine eligibility for REF submission, please see the University’s REF Code of Practice.

  • Data you give us. As a current employee of the collegiate University you may also voluntarily submit additional data about your personal circumstances including details of circumstances that have affected your ability to work productively throughout the REF period (a declaration of circumstances), including but not limited to:
    • qualifying as an Early Career Researcher
    • absence from work due to secondments or career breaks outside the HE sector
    • qualifying periods of family-related leave
    • junior clinical academics who have not gained a Certificate of Completion of training by 31 July 2020
    • disability (including chronic conditions)
    • ill heath, injury or mental health conditions
    • constraints relating to family leave that fall outside of the standard allowances
    • caring responsibilities
    • gender reassignment.

Details on the procedure for the declaration of personal circumstances can be found on the REF equality and diversity website

Who has access to your data

The University will share your data with those employees of the University who need to view it as part of their work in preparing the REF2021 submission. This may include staff in Research Services, departmental and divisional offices, UOA coordinators (academic staff responsible for developing the submission in a given unit of assessment as defined in the University’s Code of Practice for REF2021 ('CoP')), UOA administrative leads, personnel teams including HR Analytics and the Equality and Diversity Unit, and committees set up for the development of the REF submission as detailed in the CoP.

If you have voluntarily submitted a declaration of circumstances, this will be reviewed initially by a restricted number of staff from the Research Services REF team and the University’s Equality and Diversity Unit. Declarations which require a judgement about the effect of circumstances may be reviewed by the REF Equality Committee, a group defined and described in the CoP.

Pseudonymised equality and diversity data will be used by the University’s Equality and Diversity Unit to provide analysis on the REF processes in the form of Equality Impact Assessments (EIAs).

Sharing with third parties

We will share your data with the following third parties:

  • UK Research and Innovation (UKRI): 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 so we will send some of the information we hold about you to UKRI for the purpose of the REF2021. Under this arrangement UKRI has the role of ‘data controller’ for personal data submitted by us to the REF.

The information we submit 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 submit individual circumstances that allow a reduction in the number of outputs submitted, without penalty, some details of your personal circumstances will be provided. If you have voluntarily disclosed personal circumstances to us (which could permit 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) and if (and only if) we apply either form of reduction of outputs, UKRI will receive the data that you have disclosed about your individual circumstances, to show that the criteria have been met for reducing the number of outputs. We will send to Research England a report that will include a summary of all voluntarily declared personal circumstances, whether or not they were used to reduce the output requirements. This report will only contain data in aggregated form and will not contain information that will identify individual members of staff.

You can find further information about what data are being collected by UKRI on the REF website. In particular publication 2019/01, ‘Guidance on submissions’ (paragraphs 151-201) provides more detail about reductions in outputs and what information needs to be submitted.

UKRI have set out how they will use the data submitted in their ‘Fair Processing Notice for staff submitted to REF 2021

  • Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA): For employees of the University of Oxford, some of your data (Unit of Assessment, HESA staff identifier code and date of birth) will be passed to HESA to enable it to verify coded data returned to it as part of our HESA staff return (see HESA website). Data returned to the REF will be linked to that held on the HESA staff record to allow UKRI to conduct additional analysis into the REF and fulfil their statutory duties under the Equality Act 2010. For more information, see the HESA staff data collection notice.
     
  • External reviewers: Textual parts of the REF submission (impact case studies and environment templates) may be shared with external reviewers during the process of submission development.

Where we share your data with a third party external reviewers, we will seek to share the minimum amount necessary. This may include the information being transferred to, and stored at, a destination outside the European Economic Area. Such transfers will only take place with appropriate safeguards in place to ensure the confidentiality and security of your personal information. If you require any information about these safeguards, you may contact us by email via the data protection officer.

Retaining and storing your data

We will retain your data to support the University’s REF2021 submission, including if required for legal, accounting, or reporting requirements. Specifically, we will retain all data used in the development of the REF submission until completion of the REF audit process (January 2022 at the latest), and will retain a copy of the staff, outputs, impact and environment submission for 21 years after submission, in order to facilitate future REF submissions.

Your rights

You may request access to any of your data, request that our processing is restricted, object to our processing or request that your data be corrected or transferred to another party, subject to certain restrictions.

You may also request that your data be deleted or ask for us to stop using it, and we will comply with your request as soon as possible. Depending on the circumstances, however, we may have legal grounds for continuing to process your data, for example where processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest, or where the data is being further processed for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes, in accordance with applicable data protection laws.

If you would like to exercise any of the rights mentioned above or if for any reason you are not happy with the way that we have handled your data, please contact the University’s Information Compliance Team at data.protection@admin.ox.ac.uk. The same address can be used to contact the University’s Data Protection Officer.  If you are still not happy, you have the right to make a complaint to the Information Commission

Research Excellence Framework 2021 non-staff privacy statement

For the purpose of the General Data Protection Regulation ('GDPR') and the Data Protection Act 2018, the ‘Data Controller’ for the processing of personal data collected in accordance with the preparations for the University’s submission to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 is the University of Oxford.

REF2021 is an exercise to assess the quality of UK research and inform the selective distribution of public funds for research by the four UK higher education funding bodies; it comprises assessment of research outputs, impact and environment related to subject areas ('units of assessment' or UOAs).

Your personal data will be used to support the University’s REF2021 submission which as a national research assessment exercise is a task we carry out in the legitimate interests of the collegiate University, and current and former employees.

Types of data we collect about you

You may have provided information for one or more impact case studies or environment statements as part of our submission to the REF 2021. In 2020 we will send information about impact case studies and environment statements to UKRI (see below) for the purpose of the REF2021. The information will not be in coded form and your name - and details such as your job title and organisational affiliation - may be provided in these narrative statements. We refer to this information about you as ‘your data’. You can find further information about what data are being collected on the REF website, at www.ref.ac.uk in particular publication 2019/01, ‘Guidance on submissions’. Annex G of that document sets out the data that we will be required to share with UKRI.

Who has access to your data

The University will share your data with those employees of the University who need to view it as part of their work in preparing the REF2021 submission. This may include staff in Research Services, Departmental and Divisional offices, UOA Coordinators (academic staff responsible for developing the submission in a given unit of assessment as defined in the University’s Code of Practice for REF2021 (“CoP”)), UOA Impact leads, UOA administrative leads, and committees set up for the development of the REF submission as detailed in the CoP.

Sharing with third parties

We will share your data with the following third parties:

  • UK Research and Innovation (UKRI): 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 so we will send some of the information we hold about you to UKRI for the purpose of the REF2021. Under this arrangement UKRI has the role of ‘data controller’ for personal data submitted by us to the REF.

UKRI have provided us with the following information about how they will use and process your data:

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).

UKRI and the organisations listed above will use the information to analyse and monitor the REF2021. This may result in information being released to other users including academic researchers or consultants (commissioned by the funding bodies), to carry out research or analysis, in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (Regulation (EU) 2016/679). Where information not previously published is released to third parties, this will be anonymised where practicable.

UKRI will require that anyone who has access to your data, held in UKRI’s records, paper or electronic, will respect its confidentiality and will only process it in accordance with instructions issued for the purposes specified by UKRI.

Parts of your data will be passed to the REF expert panels and the Equality and Diversity Advisory Panel (whose members are independent of UKRI) for the purpose of conducting a systematic evaluation of submissions, in accordance with predetermined criteria and methods. All panel members are bound by confidentiality arrangements.

The results of the assessment exercise will be published by UKRI, on behalf of the four UK higher education funding bodies, in December 2021.

Those parts of submissions that contain factual data and textual information about research activity will also be published by UKRI, on behalf of the four UK higher education funding bodies, and will be made available online. Published information is likely to include textual information including impact case studies in which you may be referenced. Your name and job title may be included in this textual information. Other personal details will normally be removed.

Under the Data Protection Act 2018 and the GDPR, you have the right to see and receive a copy of any personal information that UKRI holds about you. Further information about the Act and GRPR, and guidance on making a subject access request, can be found in the UKRI privacy notice.

If you have any concerns about your information being used by UKRI for these purposes, please contact: Data Protection Officer, UK Research and Innovation, Polaris House, Swindon, SN2 1FL or email: dataprotection@ukri.org.

  • External reviewers: Textual parts of the REF submission (impact case studies and environment templates) may be shared with external reviewers during the process of submission development.

Where we share your data with a third party external reviewers, we will seek to share the minimum amount necessary. This may include the information being transferred to, and stored at, a destination outside the European Economic Area. Such transfers will only take place with appropriate safeguards in place to ensure the confidentiality and security of your personal information. If you require any information about these safeguards, you may contact us (see data protection officer email address below).

Retaining and storing your data

We will retain your data to support the University’s REF2021 submission, including if required for legal, accounting, or reporting requirements. Specifically, we will retain all data used in the development of the REF submission until completion of the REF audit process (January 2022 at the latest), and will retain a copy of the staff, outputs, impact and environment submission for 21 years after submission, in order to facilitate future REF submissions.

Your rights

You may request access to any of your data, request that our processing is restricted, object to our processing or request that your data be corrected or transferred to another party, subject to certain restrictions.

You may also request that your data be deleted or ask for us to stop using it, and we will comply with your request as soon as possible. Depending on the circumstances, however, we may have legal grounds for continuing to process your data, for example where processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest, or where the data is being further processed for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes, in accordance with applicable data protection laws.

If you would like to exercise any of the rights mentioned above or if for any reason you are not happy with the way that we have handled your data, please contact the University’s Information Compliance Team at data.protection@admin.ox.ac.uk. The same address can be used to contact the University’s Data Protection Officer. If you are still not happy, you have the right to make a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

The REF Funding bodies have published a Fair Processing Notice for staff submitted to REF 2021.

Further information is available of the University’s wider privacy policies.

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