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REF open access requirements

HEFCE policy exceptions

The HEFCE policy includes a number of deposit, access and technical exceptions. These cover instances where deposit was not possible, or open access to the outputs was not achievable within the policy requirements.

If any of the following exceptions apply, please provide details when depositing your output by using the comments box on the deposit screen in Symplectic.

Depending on the nature of the exception, the Research and Innovation Service will contact you or your School/Faculty to gather supporting information.

Deposit exceptions

There may be cases where the output cannot meet the deposit requirements. You may not have to make your output compliant if:

  • you are unable to secure the use of a repository at the point of acceptance
  • there is a delay in securing the final peer-reviewed text (for instance, where a paper has multiple authors)
  • you were not employed by a UK HEI at the time of submission for publication
  • it would be unlawful to deposit, or request the deposit of, the output
  • depositing the output would present a security risk
  • the output was published as 'gold' open access (for example, RCUK-funded projects where an open access article processing charge has been paid). Gold open access papers should still be deposited in Symplectic.

Access exceptions

There may be cases where you are able to deposit the output but cannot meet the open access requirements. You may not have to make your output compliant if:

  • your output depends on the reproduction of third party content for which open access rights could not be granted (either within the specified timescales, or at all)
  • your output is subject to an embargo period that exceeds the stated limit, and was the most appropriate publication for the output
  • the publication concerned actively disallows open access deposit in a repository, and was the most appropriate publication for the output.

Technical exceptions

There may be cases where a technical issue prevented the output from meeting the policy requirements. You may not have to make your output compliant if:

  • at the point of acceptance, you were at a different UK higher education institution that failed to comply with the criteria
  • the repository experienced a short-term or transient technical failure that prevented compliance with the criteria (this should not apply to systemic issues)
  • an external service provider failure prevented compliance (for instance, a subject repository did not enable open access at the end of the embargo period, or a subject repository ceased to operate).