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Open Access: Publishing and Intellectual Property

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

When choosing where to publish any open access research as a journal article you need to consider the impact and reputation of the journal as well as verifying their open access options and approach to intellectual property. there are now some websites that can guide you through finding an appropriate journal in which to publish your article. Elsevier has a service which matches against their title portfolio, the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) also provides search functionality for titles, the publisher and licensing models. 

Impact and Reputation

Impact factors measure how often, on average, articles published in a particular title are cited. They can be used as one metric to understand a journal's reputation. 

The Scopus Journal Metrics website provides access to citation metrics and data for over 20,000 journal titles. 

Predatory journals

Unfortunately, there are some open access journals which have questionable practices, these are known as predatory journals. Beall's list provides a directory of some publishers and associated journals which may be considered as predatory journals. Be sure to check any journals you are considering publishing in again this list, but also take care to visit the journal and publishers website themselves. 

Copyright and Intellectual Property

The University policy strongly encourages staff to retain the intellectual property for their work when publishing, and open access publishing is also supportive of this. Before you sign any agreements with a publisher, be sure you have read the terms and conditions associated with the transference of copyright. Some standard Copyright Transfer Agreements require that you sign exclusive rights to the publisher, restricting what you can do with your work in the future, including any further publishing, or depositing in an open access repository. 

An alternative to a Copyright Transfer Agreement is a Publisher Agreement. Through this you grant the publisher the right to publish your work in their publication, but retain the overarching intellectual property. 

If you would like support or guidance in agreeing the terms of your publishing agreement, please contact David Upson-dale

Creative Commons

Open Access requires that your research can be freely searched for, read, and downloaded. Wherever possible a CC BY licence should be applied to your outputs to ensure the most open level of access and to ensure eligibility with future REF.  This licence "lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation". As you retain the copyright you are able to reuse the final published version in any way you wish, including making the full text available in OARS. The Creative Commons licence is often processed by the publisher.

UKRI Open Access Policy

This policy specifies that for research funded by UKRI;  journal articles published after April 1st 2022 must be made open access immediately upon publication and without embargo.  This means that careful consideration should be taken when choosing where to publish.  This is especially important if you are taking the Green route to open access, as most subscription journals will specify an embargo period which will conflict with the policy.  Further information around this and how to retain rights are available via our pages here

And the policy information is available via the UKRI platform here


Knowing the publisher's approach to open access, including any embargo periods is a critical part of choosing where to publish. Many publishers will have standard approaches, but there may be also be titles in their portfolios which have special permissions. These tools can help you to decide:

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