REF and Open Access

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has introduced a policy requiring all published articles and proceedings submitted to the Research Exercise Framework (REF) to be open access.

The REF 2021 publication period closed on 31 December 2020 but researchers should continue to comply with the requirements of the REF 2021 open access policy. Research England will launch a consultation on the future REF OA policy following the outcome of the UKRI OA review. The Research England open access research page includes the following statement:

"The UK HE funding bodies recognise that due notice will be needed prior to implementation of the OA policy for the REF-after-REF 2021, which will be consulted on after UKRI's OA policy is announced. The OA policy for the REF-after-REF 2021 will not come into effect on 1 January 2021 (that is, at the beginning of the publication period for the REF-after-REF 2021 exercise). The REF 2021 OA policy should be followed until further notice."

How do I comply?

Make your work open access via the 'green' route (self-archiving for free) or the 'gold' route (paid open access).

  1. Self-archive your final draft manuscript in UBIRA (using Pure) as soon after the point of acceptance as possible, and no later than three months after this date (as given in the acceptance letter or e-mail from the publication to the author).
    • This version is also known as author’s accepted and final peer-reviewed text (also known as the ‘accepted author manuscript’, ‘final author version’ or ‘post-print’).

    • It is the version after peer-review but before final formatting.
  2. This may be replaced or augmented with an updated peer-reviewed manuscript or the final published version of record at a later date (e.g. if you have chosen the 'gold' open access route).
  3. Deposited material should be discoverable, free to read and download, for anyone with an internet connection.

 REF and 'green' open access

UKRI permits 'green' open access with a twelve-month embargo for STEM subjects, and 24 months for SSH.

  1. If you are able to go 'green' OA, self-archive the accepted version of your publication into UBIRA, using Pure immediately on acceptance.
    • Add an embargo to the document, if required by the publisher.
  2. Ensure your publication is linked to the grant using the ‘Projects’ link in Pure.
  3. If your publisher is uncompliant with 'green' OA, you will need to choose the 'gold' route.
    • Check your chosen journal for 'green' compliance using Sherpa Romeo.

 REF and 'gold' open access

If you are unable to choose 'green' OA, you may be able to apply for 'gold' OA through the University APC request form.

  1. Self-archive the accepted version of your publication into UBIRA, using Pure immediately on acceptance.
    • Restrict the visibility of the document to backend only.
  2. Ensure your publication is linked to the grant using the ‘Projects’ link in Pure.
  3. Complete an APC request form for the publication. If the request is accepted, the Article Processing Charge (APC) to the publisher is usually paid by the University.
    • Please note: the University open access budget is only available to cover APCs, any additional costs (page, colour charges) must be paid by the department.
  4. If choosing 'gold' OA, HEFCE requires that the output should be published with a minimum equivalent of a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Non-Derivative Licence (CC BY-NC-ND).
  5. Your chosen publisher may have a membership scheme with the University to reduce the work flow for 'gold' OA submission.
  6. On publication, deposit a copy of the final PDF of your publication into UBIRA, using Pure, in addition to the original deposited draft.

What if my publication has an embargo period?

If your publisher specifies an embargo period, you are allowed to make a ‘closed’ deposit on acceptance.

  • Pure will allow you to add the embargo period to your ‘closed’ deposit. Closed deposits will be admissible to the REF.
  • Check your publisher policy in Sherpa Romeo to see if an embargo is required.

Metadata for all your deposited manuscripts must be visible and discoverable in Pure immediately on acceptance for publication, even if the full text is embargoed.

How is this policy compatible with funders?

If you are funded you will need to ensure you are also compliant with your funders open access policy.

For more information

Open access in REF 2021: an overview (PDF - 520 KB)

 UKRI open access research policy guide

Research England open access research

UKRI open access policy review



Professional Services