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Open access explained

Journal articles OA checklist

There are a number of things to consider before submitting an article to a journal for publication:

  • funder’s open access requirements
  • journal’s open access policy
  • who pays – does the journal charge article processing charges (APCs), will your funder pay them or is there an institutional read-and-publish deal available?
  • what is the journal’s embargo period (important for the REF and UKRI)
  • submitting the article to a future REF.

This page helps with these questions so that you can have confidence in your journal selection.

The potential consequences of not taking these steps are not being able to submit your work to the REF, or research funders withholding or reducing funding if open access policies aren’t met.

Please do contact us with any questions. It can be complex and we’re here to help. It’s often easier to fix any issues before submission rather than on article acceptance or publication.

Check your funder’s open access policy

Use Sherpa Juliet to check your funder’s policy before publishing.

Our open access funding and policies information has links to major funders’ policies.

Check the journal’s open access policy

Use Sherpa Fact to check that the journal’s open access policy is in line with your funder's open access requirements.

If your funder supports Plan S, use the Journal Checker Tool to check if your chosen journal complies. This is an early “beta” service so if you are unsure of the information provided, please contact us for help.

Does the journal charge a fee and who pays?

Check Sherpa Fact to see if the journal allows immediate green open access through a repository. If this is available, there is no fee. You can deposit your author accepted manuscript via Symplectic when it is accepted for publication.

The journal might only make an article open access immediately on publication by paying an article processing charge (APC).

Check what funding is available for open access through funder block grants and our read and publish deals with individual publishers. If your funder isn’t covered by a block grant, check their website for information.

Alternatively, you can choose an open access journal or platform that does not charge an article processing fee. Check the DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals) to find free-to-publish open access journals.

Check the journal’s embargo period

Use Sherpa Romeo to check a journal’s embargo period.

This is important because Research England sets maximum permitted embargo lengths as part of REF eligibility.

REF submission

To make a journal article eligible for the REF you must also upload the author accepted manuscript to WRRO via Symplectic when it is accepted for publication by a journal.

We don’t yet have clarification on the conditions for the next REF exercise, so are adopting the same requirements as REF2021. It is likely that this condition will remain, as open access continues to be important for impact and the public good.

Find out how to deposit your research outputs into Symplectic