Announcing our Research Excellence Framework 2021 Results

The Department is delighted to announce the results of the UK’s most recent national research assessment exercise, the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021.

The REF is a process of expert review which assesses the quality of research outputs, their impact beyond academia, and the environment that supports this research and impact. Research from our faculty and from economists from a range of Oxford University departments and institutes was submitted to the Economics and Econometrics Unit of Assessment (UoA). Given the large and diverse set of economists at Oxford, we submitted the largest number of researchers to this UoA.

Overall, 51% of our submitted outputs, impact case studies and environment statements received the highest score of 4*. We were pleased to see that our persistent efforts to develop a vibrant, diverse, and flourishing research community were also recognised with a 4* environment score of 87.5%.

Commenting on the results, Prof Hamish Low, Head of the Department of Economics, reflects:


There are many positives to be taken from the REF results and I am particularly proud of the research environment that we have created at Oxford. We have brought together a large and diverse group of economists crossing disciplinary boundaries to produce outstanding and impactful research.

One part of our strategy has been to develop the careers of early researchers, and out of 88 researchers, 23 were in the early stage of their career. We believe firmly in the need to give them the time and support to enable them to produce their best possible research.

I would like to thank all the economists from around the University whose research was part of our submission. I would also like to give a special thanks to the staff who worked tirelessly to prepare the submission.

We will reflect on these results and the lessons we can learn. Some of these lessons, such as increasing support for junior faculty, are already well in train. I am very optimistic about the direction of Economics at Oxford and the vibrant community we are creating here.

Among the highlights of our REF submissions were:

  • 38.6% of our submitted outputs were rated 4* which is a notable result for our diverse submission that included economists of varied career stages, tracks, and research areas.
  • 57.1% of our submitted impact case studies were judged to be world-leading. We take great pride in the outstanding impact our research has beyond academia and its amazing capacity for stimulating and driving economic, political, and social change. 

Our deep commitment to the development of the research community, building bridges with other economists and economics-related research groups at Oxford, mentoring early-career researchers and teaching-focused staff, and supporting PhD students has allowed us to achieve a high world-leading environment score.

Besides developing the early career researcher community, we are proud to continuously support our vibrant and growing DPhil community. As a snapshot, in 2019 we had 77 registered DPhil students, 41 of whom were fully funded, and the rest were supported by the Department through various schemes.

Thank you to all staff, including those who undertook the research submitted and those who prepared the submission.