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REF 2021 Open Access policy on gold open access

The REF 2021 Open Access policy was updated in July 2018 with the following statement:

Some UK funders have a preference for gold open access. ‘Gold’ open access usually means the immediate, permanent, and free to access availability of the published version of record on the publisher’s website and with a licence that permits copying and reuse. Outputs that are made open access through the ‘gold’ route, at the point of first publication, in accordance with other funder’s requirements and definitions, meet the requirement of the REF 2021 open access policy. HEIs will need to confirm that outputs were available immediately after publication via the gold route.


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

However, outputs which have not been uploaded to but are nonetheless published as gold open access will still be eligible for submission to REF. The Open Access Service will try to ensure this information, where it can be easily discovered, 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 it has been published as gold open access, please let us know.