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REF 2021 Open Access Policy on preprint servers

Preprint servers (such as arXiv) are becoming more common across a range of disciplines. In recognition of this, the REF 2021 Open Access Policy was updated in July 2018 with the following statement:

...if the ‘accepted for publication’ text, or near final version, is available on the pre-print service, and the output upload date of the pre-print is prior to the date of output publication, this will be considered as compliant with the open access criteria...

In order to realise the benefits of this policy change and ensure that outputs uploaded to preprint servers are eligible for submission to REF 2021, the manuscript uploaded must be the accepted for publication text, and it must be uploaded prior to publication in a journal or conference proceeding.

If these two conditions are met, authors will have complied with the REF 2021 Open Access requirements, and will not need to upload a copy of the accepted manuscript to Symplectic Elements. However, not all preprint servers are created equal, so it is important that you check what your preferred preprint server allows you to upload.

In very rare cases, a journal may not allow authors to post accepted manuscripts to preprint servers. If this is the case, please upload your accepted manuscript to Symplectic Elements or contact the Open Access team.

What you need to do

If the preprint server does not allow you to upload a copy of the accepted manuscript

  • Upload a copy of the accepted manuscript to Symplectic Elements within 3 months of acceptance for publication.

If the preprint server allows you to upload a copy of the accepted manuscript

  • Upload a copy of the accepted manuscript to the preprint server before publication in a journal or conference proceeding, and;
  • Label the accepted for publication text as "Accepted Manuscript".  See an example of an accepted manuscript that has been uploaded to a preprint server here.

The Open Access Team will try to ensure this information, where it can be easily discovered in a preprint server, is correctly reflected within Symplectic Elements, however, we cannot guarantee that we’ll always get this right. If you are being told your paper is non-compliant but you have otherwise taken the appropriate steps, please let us know.