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The current REF open access requirements were introduced for REF 2021. Research England confirm that the REF 2021 Open Access policy should be followed until further notice.

The REF 2021 Open Access policy applies to certain research outputs accepted for publication after 1 April 2016:

  • Articles published in scholarly journals with an ISSN.
  • Full length conference papers published with an ISSN. Not abstracts, posters, presentations or talks.

These research outputs must be deposited in a suitable Open Access repository within three months of acceptance if they are to be REF eligible. 

How to ensure REF eligibility

All research-active staff and students publishing journal articles or conference proceedings should upload their accepted manuscripts to immediately after acceptance for publication.

The accepted manuscript is the final author-created version after peer review but before typesetting or copy-editing by the publisher. It is usually a Word or a LaTex file and may have been formatted using a publisher’s template.

Exceptions and non-compliance

Exceptions are available for research outputs that cannot meet the deposit, access or technical requirements of the policy, however, most research outputs will not qualify for exceptions to the policy. If a research output is not deposited within three months of acceptance and it does not qualify for an exception, then the output will not be usable for REF. It is expected that some research outputs will be deposited compliantly in other institutional repositories, however, this route for meeting REF eligibility should not be relied upon.