Open access publishing | REF eligibility | Funder compliance: FAQs: Open Access and REF

FAQs: Open Access and REF

Which research outputs fall under HEFCE’s Open Access policy for the next REF?

HEFCE’s policy applies to all journal articles and published conference proceedings with an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN). The policy applies to outputs accepted for publication on or after 1st April 2016.

Please be aware that Brunel also has an internal open access mandate where we encourage academic staff to make all of their research open access, where possible. HEFCE have suggested that extra REF credit will be given to institutions who work towards open access for outputs which fall outside the scope of the policy.

What will I need to do to ensure I meet the requirements?

You will need to deposit your accepted manuscript in BRAD as soon as you receive an acceptance email/letter from the publisher. Full guidance on how to deposit publications in BRAD can be found here.

The latest possible point for your article to appear as Open Access on BURA is within three months of receiving the acceptance notice. It is important that you deposit your publications as soon as you get the acceptance letter and  well within the three month timescale as the Library Scholarly Communication Office need to check each item for copyright restrictions and embargo periods.

What is an Author Accepted Manuscript?

An accepted manuscript is the version of an article after peer-review but prior to publisher typesetting and may sometimes be referred to as the ‘final author version’. It will typically be a Word document and most publishers will allow for the accepted manuscript to be deposited in our institutional repository, BURA, subject to an embargo period. An example of an accepted manuscript can be found here.

Please note:  The final published version (which appears on the publisher website) cannot normally be deposited in BURA, unless you have decided to go for Gold Open Access by paying an article processing charge (APC). You can apply for Gold Open Access through Brunel’s Open Access Publishing fund

What does date of acceptance mean?

HEFCE specify date of acceptance as being the point at which an author has received the following notifications:

  • That their output has been reviewed by the journal or conference (normally via peer review).

  • That all academically necessary changes have been made in response to that review.

  • That the article is ready to be taken through to the final steps toward publication (normally copy-editing and typesetting).

At this point the journal/conference normally notifies the author that their work has been ‘firmly’ accepted for publication. It is the date of this notification which should be recorded in BRAD.

What should I do if my paper is embargoed? Will it still be eligible?

Yes, HEFCE’s Open Access policy respects publisher imposed embargoes. You are still required to deposit embargoed publications in BRAD within three months of acceptance. The Scholarly Communication Office check each publication for embargo periods and set these in BURA to ensure that the full text does not appear until after the embargo period specified by the publisher.

Is there a maximum embargo period allowed under HEFCE rules?

HEFCE have specified maximum embargo periods for particular REF panels. These are:

  • 12 months for REF panels A and B

  • 24 months for REF panels C and D

To check the embargo periods for particular journals you may wish to type the name of your journal into the SHERPA/ROMEO database, which contains extensive information on copyright and sharing policies.   

What should I do if the journal which is the most appropriate publication for my output requires an embargo period that exceeds the stated maxima?

HEFCE do allow for an exception to be added if the journal has an excessive embargo period. However, HEFCE anticipate the uptake of this exception to be very minimal and strongly advise authors to have the embargo limits in mind when selecting a venue for publication.  

What happens to articles accepted before 1st April 2016? Are they now ineligible for the next REF?

No. It is simply that HEFCE’s Open Access policy only covers publications accepted from 1st April 2016. Outputs accepted before this date can still be submitted to the next REF.

However, you must still ensure that your complete publication history is recorded in BRAD. You should also try to deposit these earlier publications in BRAD, where possible.

Are journal articles and conference proceedings now the only output types eligible for the next REF?

No, other research outputs are still eligible for REF submission, but HEFCE’s Open Access policy only covers journal articles and conference proceedings.

Please note: Brunel’s internal policy asks for all output types to be deposited in BRAD, where possible. HEFCE have suggested that extra REF credit will be given to institutions who work towards open access for outputs which fall outside the scope of the policy.

Why can’t I just deposit my papers on ResearchGate, academia.edu or my personal website?

ResearchGate and Academia are social media sites rather than subject or institutional repositories and do not meet the requirements of HEFCE’s Open Access policy. Additionally, personal websites do not meet the requirements of the policy.

Some subject repositories do fall within the scope of the policy, but HEFCE have not provided a definitive list of acceptable sites. Therefore, it is vital that you deposit your papers in BRAD so they can be archived on BURA.

My previous institution did not make my work open access. Is my work now ineligible?

This scenario is covered in HEFCE’s technical exceptions. As soon as you start at Brunel you should deposit all publications in BRAD which fall within the scope of policy. Please then email brad@brunel.ac.uk explaining the situation, which will allow the Scholarly Communication Office to record an exception.

My previous role was not at a UK Higher Education Institution. What should I do?   

This situation is covered in HEFCE’s deposit exceptions. As soon as you start at Brunel you should deposit all publications in BRAD which fall within the scope of the policy. Please then email brad@brunel.ac.uk explaining the situation, which will allow the Scholarly Communication Office to record an exception.

I am not the first author and cannot access the peer-reviewed manuscript. Will I be granted extra time or an exception?

You are still expected to deposit within three months of acceptance even if you are not the corresponding author. However, a deposit exception can be registered if it has proved particularly difficult for you to access the accept manuscript. If this situation arises you must email brad@brunel.ac.uk explaining the situation so the Scholarly Communication Office can record the exception.

Please note: HEFCE have said that they do not expect to see wide use of this exception as they are concerned that it may be open to abuse. It is strongly advised that co-authors communicate with corresponding authors to ensure that they are aware of open access requirements for UK academics.