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Open Access: Funding and Research Councils

Find out more about what making your research open access, and what it means for REF 2021

In 2012, a report was published by the National Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings (the Finch Group), Accessibility, sustainability, excellence: how to expand access to research publications

Open Access publishing facilitates increasing access to research, and many research agencies have now stipulated that research undertaken using their funding must be made available using one of the OA routes. A primary Research council is the RCUK, and their OA requirements are summarised below.

Sherpa Juliet is a searchable database of research funders and their open access requirements. The information in this guide covers some of the Research funding Councils in the UK and European Union. 

Research Council requirements

The RCUK policy covers all relevant publications which acknowledge funding from the UK’s Research Councils. Where there are multiple funding bodies, and more than one of them is a Research council, the RCUK Policy will apply. Where there are multiple embargo periods, the shortest will apply. 

Gold or Green?

The RCUK preference is for any research to be published through a Gold Open Access route,  making the research immediately available without restriction. Where a Gold route is available from a publisher, but the author chooses to publish via a Green route, the RCUK permits this as long as the embargo period is less than 12 months for STEM and 24 months for arts and humanities and social science research. 

Research papers in biomedicine should be published with an embargo of no longer than six months, as has been the MRC’s mandated policy since 2006, this is the case even if no funding for Gold APCs are available. If the chosen green route journal does not permit self-archiving in EuropePMC with a 6 months embargo, another journal must be chosen.


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