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REF and University open access requirements for research outputs

You must observe two important policies if you are an active researcher at the University.

1. HEFCE open access policy for the next REF

The HEFCE policy for open access in the next REF requires that to be eligible for REF submission, journal articles and conference papers accepted from 1 April 2016 must have been deposited in an open access repository within three months of acceptance for publication.

In addition:

  • the file version must be the 'author accepted manuscript' (AAM), sometimes referred to as the post-print or final draft post-refereeing
  • the outputs must not be subject to a publisher imposed embargo period exceeding 12 months for REF Main Panels A and B or 24 months for REF Main Panels C and D

Outputs that do not meet all of the above requirements will not be eligible for submission to the REF unless any of the permitted deposit, access or technical exceptions apply.

2. University publications policy

The University publications policy requires that, from 1 April 2015, details of all newly accepted research outputs are recorded in the University publications system (Symplectic) within three months of acceptance and full text copies deposited where appropriate.

What do I need to do?

To comply with HEFCE and University policies you should deposit all outputs accepted for publication from 1 April 2015.

Before you start, check if there is help from your School or Faculty to deposit outputs subject to the HEFCE policy.

If you are depositing your own outputs in the University publications system, you need the following information:

  • Details of the Title, Author(s), Date of acceptance, the name of the Journal it will be published in (articles only) or the Conference start date (conferences only)
  • A copy of the author accepted version of the output

These guides give step-by-step instructions on how to deposit newly accepted research outputs:

How to deposit a newly accepted journal article (PDF)

How to deposit a newly accepted conference paper (PDF)

Guides are also available in the help section of the University publications system.

HEFCE policy exceptions

The HEFCE policy includes a number of permitted 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. The following information is reproduced from the full HEFCE policy on open access for the next REF. Information about exceptions can be seen on pages 7-8.

If any of the below exceptions apply to an output you need to deposit, please state the applicable exception when depositing your output by using the comments box in the University publications system (Symplectic).

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

Deposit exceptions

Cases where the output is unable to meet the deposit requirements:

a) The individual whose output is being submitted to the REF was unable to secure the use of a repository at the point of acceptance

b) The individual whose output is being submitted to the REF experienced a delay in securing the final peer-reviewed text (for instance, where a paper has multiple authors)

c) The individual whose output is being submitted to the REF was not employed by a UK HEI at the time of submission for publication

d) It would be unlawful to deposit, or request the deposit of, the output

e) Depositing the output would present a security risk

f) The output was published as 'gold' open access (for example, RCUK-funded projects where an open access article processing charge has been paid)

Access exceptions

Cases where deposit of the output is possible but there are issues meeting the open access requirements:

a) The 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)

b) The publication concerned requires an embargo period that exceeds the stated maxima, and was the most appropriate publication for the output

c) The publication concerned actively disallows open-access deposit in a repository, and was the most appropriate publication for the output.

Technical exceptions

Cases where a technical issue prevented the output meeting the policy requirements:

a) At the point of acceptance, the individual whose output is being submitted to the REF was at a different UK HEI which failed to comply with the criteria

b) The repository experienced a short-term or transient technical failure that prevented compliance with the criteria (this should not apply to systemic issues)

c) 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).


Common questions

Refer to our list of common open access questions to find out about adding gold open access outputs, outputs under embargo and adding your earlier outputs.

HEFCE also has a list of frequently asked questions on their open access policy for the next REF.