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All outputs covered by the REF 2021 Open Access policy (journal articles and conference proceedings published with an ISSN) must meet the requirements of the policy to be eligible for the REF. However, there are a number of exceptions to the policy which may apply to specific papers or individuals submitting to REF 2021. These exceptions are outlined in the REF 2021 Open Access policy.

If you believe your publication is eligible for an exception please let us know.

Deposit exceptions

The following exceptions deal with cases where the output is unable to meet the deposit requirements. In the following cases, the output will not be required to meet any of the open access criteria (deposit, discovery or access requirements).

  • At the point of acceptance, it was not possible to secure the use of a repository.
  • There was a delay in securing the final peer-reviewed text (for instance, where a paper has multiple authors).
  • The staff member to whom the output is attributed was not employed on a Category A eligible contract 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.

Access exceptions

The following exceptions deal with cases where deposit of the output is possible, but there are issues to do with meeting the access requirements. In the following cases, the output will still be required to meet the deposit and discovery requirements, but not the access requirements. A closed-access deposit, where allowed, will be required.

  • 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).
  • The publication concerned requires an embargo period that exceeds the stated maxima, 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

The following exceptions deal with cases where an output is unable to meet the criteria due to a technical issue. In the following cases, the output will not be required to meet the open access criteria (deposit, discovery or access requirements).

  • At the point of acceptance, the staff member to whom the output is attributed was employed at a different UK HEI, and it has not been possible to determine compliance 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).

Further exceptions

Two further exceptions to the policy are outlined below:

  • Other exception. Other exception should be used where an output is unable to meet the criteria due to circumstances beyond the control of the HEI, including extenuating personal circumstances of the author (such as periods of extended leave), industrial action, closure days, and software problems beyond those listed in the technical exceptions. If ‘other’ exception is selected, the output will not need to meet the open access criteria (deposit, discovery or access requirements).
  • The output was not deposited within three months of acceptance date, but was deposited within three months of the earliest date of publication. In this instance, the output will need to meet all other policy requirements. This exception does not need to be applied retrospectively to outputs compliant with the policy from 1 April 2016 to 1 April 2018 which fulfilled the policy requirements within three months of publication.