REF21 privacy notice

Information you need to know

Research and Innovation Services is part of Liverpool John Moores University. See further information on the institution.

Liverpool John Moores University is the Data Controller.

Our Data Protection Officer can be contacted at

LJMU takes your privacy very seriously. This privacy notice explains how we use your personal information and your rights regarding that information. We will always use your data as set out in the principles of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and all current Data Protection Legislation. We are committed to being transparent about how we collect and use your data and to meeting our data protection obligations.

For information about how the wider university uses personal data please see the Privacy Notice section of our website.

What information are we collecting?

If you are a member of staff who has been included as part of our submission to REF2021, in March 2021, the University will send some of the information it holds about you to UKRI for the purpose of the REF exercise.  Under this arrangement, UKRI has the role of ‘data controller’ for personal data submitted by LJMU to the REF.

We will send your name and details such as your date of birth, Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID), 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.

You can find further information about what data are being collected on the REF website, in particular publication 2019/01, ‘Guidance on submissions’ (para. 145).

Why are we collecting your data and what is the legal basis for this?

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 national REF team, based at Research England, on behalf of the four UK higher education funding bodies. Research England is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). 

The legal basis for the University processing your data in this way is public task as set out in Article 6(1)(e) of the UK General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Who has access to this data?

At LJMU, your personal data will be processed only by relevant staff in the Research Excellence Team and Human Resources where it is necessary for them to undertake their designated role.

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 our HESA staff return. Data returned to the REF will be linked to that held on the HESA staff record to allow UKRI and the organisations listed above to conduct additional analysis into the REF and fulfil their statutory duties under the Equality Act 2010 (England, Wales and Scotland) or the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (Northern Ireland).

UKRI and the organisations listed above will use the information to analyse and monitor REF 2021. 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. Panels will make judgments about the material contained in submissions and will not form quality judgments about individuals. All panel members are bound by confidentiality arrangements.

Publishing information about your part in LJMU’s submission

The results of the assessment exercise will be published by UKRI, on behalf of the four UK higher education funding bodies, in April 2022. The published results will not be based on individual performance nor identify individuals.

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, job title and periods of employment may be included in this textual information.  Other personal and contractual details, including your date of birth and all information about individual staff circumstances will be removed.

Unless redacted, the information to be published by UKRI, on behalf of the four UK higher education funding bodies, will include a single list of all the outputs submitted by the University in each Unit of Assessment (UOA). The list of outputs will include standard bibliographic data for each output, but will not be listed by author name.

Data about personal circumstances

You may have voluntarily declared personal circumstances which could permit the University to submit a reduced number of outputs to your UOA without penalty.  If (and only if) a reduction in outputs is applied for, the University will need to provide UKRI with the data that you have disclosed about your individual circumstances, to show that the criteria have been met for reducing the number of outputs. Please see the ‘Guidance on submissions’ document (paragraphs 151-201) for more detail about reductions in outputs and what information needs to be submitted.

Submitted data will be kept confidential to the national REF team, the Equalities and Diversity Advisory Panel, and main panel chairs. All these bodies are subject to confidentiality arrangements. Where the University submits details of declared staff circumstances, it does not link the information to an individual’s name, but to their HESA staff ID. The REF team will destroy the submitted data about individuals’ circumstances on completion of the assessment phase.

The University 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.

For more information on how UKRI processes your personal information please see its privacy notice.

How does the university protect your data?

The university takes Data Protection very seriously and at all times your personal data will be handled in line with the university’s Information Security Policy.

Your information in the REF 2021 process is shared with UKRI via a secure government portal.

For how long does the university keep your data?

We only keep your information for as long as is necessary and in accordance with our Records Retention Schedule. Personal data are destroyed once the REF outcomes are released in Spring 2022.

Your rights

As a data subject, you have a number of rights. You can:

  • access and obtain a copy of your data on request, this could be in a portable electronic format;
  • require the university to change incorrect or incomplete data if you think that it is inaccurate or out of date
  • require the university to delete or stop processing your data, for example where the data is no longer necessary or legally required for the purposes of processing

If your personal data has been provided by consent, you have a right to withdraw that consent at any time.

If you would like to exercise any of these rights, please contact the Data Protection Officer

If you would like to know what information UKRI holds about you, please contact:

Data Protection Officer

UK Research and Innovation

Polaris House

Swindon, SN2 1FL


What if you do not provide data?

Staff may voluntarily declare personal circumstances as part of the process.  There is no obligation to do so.  If staff do not provide data about their circumstances, there is no detrimental impact on their inclusion in the REF.

Transfers of data outside the UK

Generally, we do not send your personal data outside the UK. However, in some specific cases we may  transfer the personal data we collect  to countries outside the UK in order to perform our contract with you/or a contract with another organisation that requires your personal data i.e. a collaboration agreement with a university based outside of the UK. Where we do this, we will ensure that your personal information is protected by way of an ‘adequacy regulation’ with the UK or by putting alternative appropriate measures in place to ensure that your personal information is treated by those third parties in a way that is consistent with and which respects the UK laws on data protection, for example model contractual clauses, data sharing/data processing agreement and binding corporate rules (where applicable).

Automated decision making

We will not make any decisions about you automatically using a computer, based on your personal data. All decisions affecting you will be taken by a human.

How to complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office?

You have the right to complain to The Information Commissioner if you believe that our processing of your personal data does not meet our data protection obligations.  The Information Commissioner can be contacted:

Post: Information Commissioners Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK95AF.

Telephone: 0303 123 1113.

Email: contact can be made by accessing