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UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has updated its open access policy, with implications for journals, monographs and author rights retention.

The Open Access policy applies to publications which need to acknowledge funding from UKRI and any of its councils, and aims to ensure that findings from research funded by the public through UKRI can be freely accessed, used and built on. 

What do researchers need to do?


On this page, find out about...


What publications does the policy apply to?

The policy applies to publications that are required to acknowledge funding from UKRI or any of its councils. 

  • Peer-reviewed original research, reviews and conference articles in a journal, publishing platform or proceeding with an ISSN submitted for publication from 01 April 2022. 
  • Monographs, book chapters and edited collections published from 01 January 2024 (unless already under contract). 

Whilst the review of the current REF exercise has not yet taken place, UKRI have indicated that ‘any outputs which satisfy the UKRI policy will also satisfy any future REF policy’.  

Requirements for journal articles

Research articles submitted for publication on or after 01 April 2022 will need to be openly accessible immediately on publication. The change from previous UKRI open access policy is that embargo periods are no longer permitted

When publishing, you can take one of two routes to compliance.

  • Gold route: the final published version of your work is made available openly on the publisher’s site, either as part of a fully open access journal (a journal with no subscription element) or as part of a journal in a transitional agreement (for which the publisher receives payment for providing access to their journal portfolio AND payment for publishing, bundled into a single contract). 
  • Green route: the accepted version of your work (or, if the publisher permits, the final published version) is made available on a repository without embargo.

You can use the Journal Checker Tool to find out if a particular journal offers a UKRI compliant route. If no compliant route is identified, the rights retention strategy is still an option to comply. 

Publications should be available under a CC-BY licence. Alternative licenses including CC-BY-NC or Open Government License may be permitted with approval from the funder. Learn more about these Creative Commons licences in our LibGuide, 'Copyright for Researchers'.

If the journal you are publishing in is 'hybrid' (containing both open access material and paid access material), it will be possible to use the UKRI Open Access block grant to pay for open access charges only if the journal is part of a transitional agreement

Rights Retention Statements

A Rights Retention Statement is required where the journal does not comply with gold open access or a transformative deal. We recommend making a habit of including it in every publication, to make it easier to comply with the policy.

At the moment, many publishers require that you sign away copyright to the article when you sign a publishing agreement. In order to have the option of posting your accepted papers online without an embargo, you need to retain these rights.  

You need to include the following text in the acknowledgements section of your submitted article and in any cover letter/note accompanying the submission: 

‘This work was funded by UKRI grant [grant number]. For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence  to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising’ 

This rights retention strategy has already been adopted by other funders within cOAlition S, including Wellcome. Our Open Access Service has received legal advice that supports this approach, and we are monitoring how this is working in practice. As of 14 March 2022, we are only aware of one journal that does not accept articles where a Rights Retention statement is included. We will be communicating with publishers where significant difficulties arise, to help Cambridge researchers comply with their funders' mandates. 

A Self-Archiving Policy at Cambridge

Following a successful Rights Retention pilot between April 2022 - April 2023, the University implemented its Self-Archiving Policy. The policy applies to all peer-reviewed research articles submitted after April 1st 2023, including reviews and conference papers, that are accepted for final publication in either a journal, conference proceeding or publishing platform. More information can be found in the Policy guidance page


Data Access Statements

A Data Access Statement (DAS) specifies where the research data (e.g. code, software, numerical data, textual records, images, sounds, objects, manuscripts) associated with your paper can be found, and how they can be accessed. 

If your article is in-scope, it must contain a DAS, even if there is no data associated with the article or the data cannot be accessed (e.g. because there is commercially sensitive or personal/sensitive human participant data). If applicable, you should provide a link to a dataset (e.g. a DOI for the dataset). 

You can find examples of statements to adapt on the Research Data website.

Depositing your manuscript

As soon as your article is accepted, you should deposit the accepted manuscript on the Open Access website. This will enable the Open Access team to make it available on our repository, Apollo, and comply with UKRI requirements.  

Look out for emails from the team, whose advice may include: 

  • instructions on how to request payment from UKRI block grants  
  • instructions on how to use an institutional R&P deal to cover publication costs 
  • suggestions to ask the corresponding author’s institution to arrange payment  
  • suggestions to choose a subscription option with the rights retention approach. 

If you experience any difficulties, or would like advice on how to respond to publishers’ requests, email the Open Access team.  

What will be required for monographs?

Monographs, book chapters and edited collections published after 01 January 2024 will need to be open access within one year of publication, via either the green or gold routes.  

UKRI will provide a centrally administered block grant of £3.5 million per year to facilitate open access for long-form scholarship.  

Where a monograph, book chapter or edited collection is the outcome of a UKRI Training Grant, exemptions may apply.  Trade books, scholarly editions and PhD theses arising from UKRI training grants are out of scope for the policy.  

It is expected that UKRI will provide operational detail on the requirements for monographs later this year. Cambridge University Libraries will closely monitor developments with a view to developing guidance and support in this area. 

Why does UKRI require open access?

The UKRI open access policy was determined by a review, which took place from autumn 2018 to summer 2021. Read more about the shaping of the UKRI open access policy

There are many recognised benefits to open access, for both researchers and society at large. In 2018, an international consortium of funders launched Plan S, a set of principles designed to accelerate the transition to open access.