The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the UK’s system for assessing the excellence of research in UK higher education providers (HEPs).
During March 2021 we successfully completed our REF2021 submission. We are now in the REF2027 cycle.
REF Assessment Criteria
Each submission is assessed against three elements:
The quality of outputs (e.g. are they an exhibition, performance or publication?)
The impact of outputs beyond academia
The environment that supports the research
Assessments are conducted by expert panels, for each of the subject-based units of assessment. Panels are comprised of senior academics, international members and research users.
This is the current open access policy from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
The policy details the open access requirements for those with research outputs funded by UKRI. While the future REF criteria are not yet known it is recognised that if you are funded by UKRI, also meeting their policy requirements will ensure compliance and eligibility for the next REF.
The Policy applies from the following dates:
Research articles submitted for publication on or after 1 April 2022
Monographs, book chapters and edited collections published on or after 1 January 2024
Research articles submitted for publication on or after 1 April 2022 will need to be openly accessible on publication and without embargo.
From 1 April 2022 there are two routes to compliance for research articles:
Gold route: Publication via an open access journal, with the final published version (also known as the version of record) made openly available via the publisher’s site, with a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence applied (or other licence permitted by UKRI*)
Green route: Publication via a subscription journal, with the accepted version (or if the publisher permits, the final published version) made available via a repository (such as OARS) without embargo, and with a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence applied (or other licence permitted by UKRI*)
* While a CC BY licence is appropriate in most cases, UKRI may permit, on a case-by case basis, the use of a more restrictive Creative Commons Attribution No-derivatives (CC BY-ND) licence for the open access version of a research article
The gold route is the easiest method for ensuring compliance with the policy. This route would require the article processing charges (APCs) to be paid for via an external funder, an institutional fund, or via a transitional agreement. Further information around APC funding can be found here
Information regarding the requirements around monographs/long-form publications will be added in due course. In the short term (while not a current requirement) it may still be possible to add the full-text of these to OARS. Please contact David Upson-dale for assistance.
If your research is funded by UKRI and you are required to follow the green (subscription journal) route it is important to note that some publishers will ask you to apply an embargo on the article (these are typically 6 - 24 mouths). Doing so would make the article non-compliant with the policy, and ineligible for future REF submission.
However, Increasingly publishers are introducing their own guidance and policies as a way to work around this issue and help authors abide by the UKRI requirements. With this in mind it is important to check their guidance as early as possible so any required statements are suitably applied, and any request for specific CC licence types are undertaken.
Where the information from publishers is less-clear UKRI offer general guidance to aid you in abiding by their policy when following the green route to open access. UKRI advise you to be open and transparent, making publishers aware of your open access needs upon submission. They specify that you should apply a CC BY licence and that you should add the following text in the funding acknowledgement section of the manuscript and any cover letter/note accompanying the submission:
For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence (where permitted by UKRI, ‘Open Government Licence’ or ‘Creative Commons Attribution No-derivatives (CC BY ND) licence’ may be stated instead) to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising.
This statement will inform publishers of your intentions and will allow them to make an informed decision regarding acceptance of your article. If the article is accepted, you should then be free to bypass the embargo period and add the article to OARS without embargo. This would ensure compliance with the policy and future REF eligibility. This should also be made clear in any agreements you may have with the publisher, so be sure to check these carefully.
The UKRI policy also requires in-scope research articles to include a Data Access Statement (even where there are no data associated with the article or the data are inaccessible). This informs readers where the underlying research materials associated with a paper are available, and how the research materials can be accessed. The statement can include links to the dataset, where applicable and appropriate.
Typically a data access statement should include:
Where the data can be accessed (preferably a data repository)
A persistent identifier, such as a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) or accession number, or a link to a permanent record for the dataset
Details of any restrictions on accessing the data and a justifiable explanation (e.g. for ethical, legal or commercial reasons)
Some examples of data access statements are below:
“Data supporting this study are openly available from (name of repository) at (DOI, accession number or URL)”
“Data supporting this study are included within the article and/or supporting materials”
“Data supporting this study cannot be made available due to (give reasons why the data cannot be shared)”
Or, where there is no data associated with the research:
“No new data were generated or analysed during this study”
Further information is available here (please see page 10 of the policy)
This policy requirement from UKRI is based around The Concordat for Open Research Data. Our institutional version is available here