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The REF Open Access Policy requires journal articles and conference proceedings published with an ISSN and accepted for publication from 1 April 2016, to be made open access in order to be eligible for submission to REF. To comply with the Policy and ensure eligibility, authors are required to deposit a copy of the author’s accepted manuscript in an institutional repository - such as Apollo - within three months of acceptance for publication.

The Research Information Office and the Open Access Service work together in assessing research outputs’ compliance with the Policy and eligibility for submission to REF.  he five possible REF-eligibility assessments that a publication may receive are “Eligible”, “Unclear (likely eligible)”, “Unclear (not deposited)”, "Unclear (deposited late), and “Not eligible”.

In some instances, simple checks can clarify a publication’s eligibility assessment, requiring minimum input from authors, whilst for some outputs there may be ‘compliance actions’ needed.

REF eligibility assessment  What you need to do 
Eligible Nothing
Unclear (likely eligible) Update acceptance and/or publication date in Symplectic Elements
Unclear (not deposited)

Your options are:

  1. Deposit accepted manuscript in Symplectic Elements,
  2. Identify as Gold Open Access, or,
  3. Identify as previously deposited in another repository. 

Email with details if options 2 or 3 apply.

Unclear (deposited late)

Your options are:

  1. Identify as Gold Open Access or,
  2. identify as previously deposited in another repository. 

Email with details.

Not eligible (outputs published before/after the REF publication period -1 January 2014 - 31 December 2020)


It may not be possible to make some publications eligible, even after metadata for the output is updated or the accepted manuscript is deposited. If that is the case, and the publication is required for the REF submission, please contact the Open Access Service for assistance. Please note that the publication’s Symplectic Elements record must be up to date and include the acceptance date and the publication date (e-publication date if online first), as the Open Access Service cannot investigate REF-eligibility issues without these two vital pieces of information.

Click on the link below to contact the Open Access Service for help and advice.  

REF-eligibility resolution enquiry