The BSA has welcomed the results of the 2021 Research Excellence Framework, released today, which show a marked rise in the results for sociology compared with the last REF in 2014.

The REF assesses the output and impact of researchers in all disciplines in UK universities. The results will be used by the UK’s four higher education funding bodies to distribute around £2 billion research funding to universities from 2022-23.

In the sociology unit, 1,168 staff were assessed, with 2,669 outputs considered, mainly journal articles, books, chapters.

The REF found that overall, 40% of sociology submissions were in the top 4* category, defined as ‘world-leading’, and 38% were 3*, defined as ‘internationally excellent’. These two categories are counted when funding is given. In the last REF in 2014 sociology’s 4* rating was given for 27% of submissions.

The number of universities submitting researchers under the Sociology heading was 37, a rise of eight on the figure of 29 submitted to the 2014 REF.

Professor Tom Hall, Chair of the Heads and Professors of Sociology Group, said he noted “the strong performance of schools and departments of sociology and of sociological colleagues across the UK in the 2021 REF.

“The discipline is clearly healthy and high-performing and as essential as ever to any proper understanding our world in all its complication, animation, inequality and transformation.

“Significantly larger numbers of submissions to the sociology sub-panel are particularly welcome, though hardly unexpected – the discipline is robust, and in demand, its societal value and impact undisputed.

“The Heads and Professors Group will continue to work closely with the BSA to secure and extend the discipline. REF 2021 gives us a sure footing and grounds for confidence.”

• The ranking for 4* research ranged from 55% of submissions for Public Health to 33% for Social Work and Social Policy. Within the social sciences, the range for 4* results went from 41% for Economics, to 33% for Social Work and Social Policy.
Over all the disciplines, the 34 panels judged 41% of the submitted work to be 4* and 43% to be 3*.