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Preprints is a term used for an early version of a research article.  Preprints are often uploaded to preprint services to be shared with colleagues and to receive comments.  There can be several versions of a preprint as it is amended and worked on prior to submission to a journal.  Preprints that are accepted and subsequently published in a journal are known as the final author version, or author's accepted manuscript.  Preprints that are never submitted to a journal for peer review or published, are known as working papers.

In July 2018 Research Engand announced the introduction of additional flexibility into the REF Open Access requirement:  'If the ‘accepted for publication’ text, or near final version is available on [a] 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 (deposit, discovery, and access).' 

This means that journal articles or conference proceedings published with an ISSN that missed the requirement to be deposited in an institutional repository within three months of acceptance, may still be eligible for REF,  provided that the accepted manuscript was uploaded to a preprint service before the date of publication.

If you are a Cambridge author with outputs that fall into this category, and you wish for these to be considered for inclusion in your Unit of Assessment's REF submission, refer to the minimum metadata requiremens listed below.  This information is required by the Open Access Service to assess eligibility for REF and compliance with the Open Access Policy.  If metadata is missing, authors will be asked to provide the relevant information.  In cases where this information has not been provided or the author fails to respond may result in the output being listed as ineligible for submission.

What you should do

Upload the accepted manuscript to your preferred preprint site before publication. When you do this please:

  1. Label the manuscript version either in the Comments metadata field (arXiv only), or by naming your manuscript file as 'Accepted version'. Alternatively, you may also add the line "Accepted for publication in [title of journal]" on the first page of the document.
  2. Add the acceptance date in the Comments metadata field (arXiv only) or on the first page of the document, making sure this is clearly visible.
  3. Create a record for your output in Symplectic Elements so that the output may be available for selection for REF.
    • Make sure you add the URL link to the preprint service where you deposited your output (you may also upload a pdf copy of the manuscript to Elements if you wish to, but there is no need if already available in the preprint service).  It would also be helpful for you to add a comment noting that the ouptut is available in the preprint service.

If you have previously uploaded copies of your publications to a preprint service and it is not possible to add information retrospectively without generating a new record (as is the case for arXiv), then please create a record for the outputs concerned in Elements, adding as much information as possible to allow the Open Access Service to assess your output.  You can use the "Comments for the Open Access Team" field (you need to be editing the manual source in order to see this field) to provide additional information.  Alternatively, contact us via email quoting the Elements record ID (the last seven-digit number string of the record's URL).