REF has nothing to do with PhD students, right?


I have co-authored a paper, and the corresponding author signed an agreement required by the publishing house after the paper got accepted. The signed agreement has been sent to every authors, so I can see it. But there's something I don't quite understand.

In the agreement, it says:

'Some of the authors are employees of the UK, Canadian or Australian Government but Crown Copyright is not asserted'
What does this mean?

And then it says:
'At least one author is affiliated to a UK institution. I must deposit the accepted manuscript in my institutional repository and make this publicly available after an embargo period, in order to be eligible for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021. '
Actually, amongst all the authors, only I am affiliated to a UK uni. But I'm a PhD student. I've heard that PhD students' research work doesn't count when unis are doing the REF, true? If so, then this paper doesn't need to be put in the corresponding author's institutional repository, right? Then I don't understand why this publishing house is making this fuss.

Avatar for rewt

I thought, you could submit any paper that you are coauthor on to REF. So your coauthors could submit it without being the corresponding author. The journals system probably doesn't see that you are a PhD student.


Quote From rewt:
I thought, you could submit any paper that you are coauthor on to REF.

But it seems that I can't. I'm a PhD student. I've heard people say PhD students' outputs don't count, only PIs' work counts. I've just browsed the REF guidance and searched 'PGR' and 'PhD', but it returns no meaningful results.


The crown copyright is not something to worry about. It's if you're a public servant (like work for a government department) Her Majesty technically owns the copyright which I think makes a headache for publishers.

REF returns are limited to staff, the fact you're a student makes you ineligible to return. If you are staff, then there are further complicated rules. Universities extensively game their ref-returns based on these rules (the government pays them cash-in-hand based on their result). It's generally better for them to have a small number of staff returning high-quality outputs, they can do this in a range of ways some of which work better for the academic (suddenly promoting them from RA etc. so they qualify), and some which don't (deliberately trying to manipulate them into teaching-only roles so they can focus a group's output on one individual).

The truth is;

- As a PhD student, you will not be returned.
- If you produce outputs on which a co-author is eligible (an academic at the University) this can be returned. Hence your supervisor and the university in general will want you to produce these outputs and add an eligible academic as a co-author. They may not be transparent about this.
- There is still benefit to you, as when you apply for a job after your PhD you can transfer your outputs into the new post. You can also in this REF submit the same output as your previous institution. E.g. if you co-author a paper with your supervisor which they return, then move to a new university, you have an eligible paper to return too. This means a prospective employer will be 'buying' your return for ROI as much as employing you. It's for this reason that REF outputs are very important for getting job offers.


Oh thanks abababa, this is very informative.
So now it's clear: the corresponding author of this paper doesn't need to upload this manuscript to his institution's repository.
But I don't quite understand this: 'It's generally better for them to have a small number of staff returning high-quality outputs'. Does it mean that the uni may choose not to return some academics' outputs just because they're deemed as non top quality? Is this allowed? I thought all academics' should be counted.