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REF 2021 Open Access Compliance Overview

Compliance and exceptions

Outputs meeting the definition must satisfy all of the following requirements to be treated as open-access.

Deposit requirements

  • Output must be deposited in an institutional* or subject repository within three months of being accepted for publication.

*    For audit purposes, deposit of all outputs must be in PURE in the first instance.

  • Output must be deposited as the final, peer-reviewed text (Accepted Manuscript).
  • Date of Acceptance must be entered in full (dd/mm/yyyy).

Discovery requirements

  • Output must be discoverable to anyone with an internet connection, and to search engines.

Access requirements

  • Output must allow anyone with internet access to search electronically within the text, read it and download it without charge.
  • The access requirements must be fulfilled as soon as any embargo period has elapsed.
  • Embargo periods should not exceed the following:
    • 12 months for REF main panels A and B (STEM (includes Psychology and Health)

24 months for REF main panels C and D (HaSS)

Text mining

Outputs do not need to allow text-mining to fulfill the open access criteria.

However, where an institution can demonstrate that outputs are presented in a form that allows text-mining, credit may be given in the open research section of the environment statement of REF2021.

Exceptions to compliance

Occasionally, it will not be possible for an output to fulfil the criteria. An exception is allowed in the following cases.

Deposit exceptions (these outputs are considered out of scope of the policy)

  • Individual was not employed by a UK HEI at the point of acceptance
  • Individual was unable to secure the use of a repository
  • Individual experienced a delay securing the final peer-reviewed text (e.g. for multi-authored papers)
  • It would be unlawful, or present a security risk, to deposit the output.

Access exceptions (these outputs must still be deposited)

  • Output depends on third party content for which open access rights could not be granted
  • The publication concerned requires an embargo period that exceeds the stated maxima, and was the most appropriate for the output
  • The publication concerned actively disallows open-access deposit, and was the most appropriate for the output.

Technical exceptions (these outputs are considered out of scope of the policy)

  • At acceptance, the individual was at a different UK HEI that failed to comply
  • A short-term technical failure within the repository prevented compliance
  • An external service provider failure prevented compliance (e.g. a subject repository ceased to operate).

Other exceptions

There may be very unusual cases where an output could not meet the criteria for a reason not covered above.

Exception expectations

  • A short written explanation will be required
  • Such cases should be extremely rare.

Contact if an exemption is required.