Call for the Immediate Cancellation of the REF 2021 Publication Period

Collective letter to REF 2021 from Feminist Review Editorial Collective; Dubravka Zarkov, Editor, European Journal of Women’s Studies; Michaela Benson, on behalf of the editorial team at The Sociological Review; Feminist Legal Studies Editorial Board; Sarah Kember, on behalf of the editors of Feminist Theory.

The four UK higher education funding bodies are currently making changes to the details of the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF) to take account of the effects of Covid-19. They have stated that:

“This means that the submission deadline on 27 November 2020 will no longer apply, and we will announce a new submission deadline no later than eight months prior to the deadline. We will ensure full allowance is made for the impact of coronavirus across affected areas of submissions. The funding bodies recognise the significant effort that has been invested so far by institutions in preparations for the current REF cycle. In view of this, and following the Minister’s advice to universities on supporting their staff, the REF staff census date (31 July 2020) remains unchanged. However, we are at an early stage of understanding the full impact on universities as they respond to calls to support the national effort in the face of COVID-19.”

However, we are concerned that the ‘publication period’ (the cut-off point for publication of research outputs) remains the same with a 31 December 2020 deadline. As journal editors we are calling for the immediate cancellation of this deadline due to the impacts of the global pandemic on publication, especially for those with caring responsibilities and/or who have contracted the coronavirus themselves or who have experienced bereavement. 

Not to cancel this deadline and, at minimum, move it in relation to the 8-month lead time of the new REF submission deadline is unfair. It will jeopardise the jobs of those whose REF outputs were scheduled at any time for 2020. The idea that this might be reviewed on a case-by-case basis is problematic suggesting ‘exceptional’ circumstances, rather than what are more far-reaching circumstances affecting all parties within academic publishing. 

Feminist Review Editorial Collective

Dubravka Zarkov, Editor, European Journal of Women’s Studies

Michaela Benson, on behalf of the editorial team at The Sociological Review

Feminist Legal Studies Editorial Board 

Sarah Kember, on behalf of the editors of Feminist Theory

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