Are your publications in line with the REF policy on open access which comes into effect on 1st April 2016?

HEFCE new logo blue eps

In order to be eligible for the next Research Excellence Framework (REF), all journal articles and conference proceedings (ISSN) accepted for publication from 1 April 2016 must be deposited within an institutional or subject repository within three months of the date of publication. This is a requirement of HEFCE’s Policy for open access in the post-2014 Research Excellence Framework which comes into effect on that date. For the purposes of the OU REF submission this means depositing in ORO.


What type of publications need depositing?

All journal articles and conference proceedings with an ISSN must be deposited along with their full text.

Monographs, book chapters, conference proceedings with an ISBN or any other long form publication are not covered by the HEFCE REF policy. These types of output are still eligible for submission to the next REF, but do not need to be made open access.


Which version of the full text needs depositing?

The author’s accepted manuscript (AAM). This is the version of the output that has been accepted for publication following peer review but has not undergone copy-editing and type setting.


When is the date of publication?

The date of publication is considered to be the first date at which the article is available. In most cases, articles are available first on the journal website before the journal has been printed. The online publication date will be, in most cases, the date of publication.


What are journal embargo periods?

Many journals do not allow articles they publish to be made available in an open access repository until a certain amount of time after publication has elapsed. This period is called a journal embargo period. Outputs may still be deposited within an open access repository during the embargo period, however, the full text will not be publically accessible until the embargo period has ended.

Authors can use the database SHERPA RoMEO to check their journal’s embargo period and any other depositing restrictions.


How are journal embargo periods dealt with by this policy?

The ORO team in the Library will apply any necessary embargo to the full text of your article / conference proceeding to ensure that the publisher’s rights are not infringed.

HEFCE have specified maximum embargo periods that they consider acceptable – 12 months for Main Panels A and B (Medical and Physical Sciences); 24 months for Main Panel C and D (Social Sciences and Humanities).

Most UK-based journals will have embargo periods that align with the HEFCE REF policy. However, some publishers based outside of the UK may have policies regarding open access that do not correspond with the HEFCE REF policy. Authors are encouraged to use SHERPA RoMEO to check their journal’s policy and to contact the ORO team in the Library with any questions.


Are there any exceptions?

There are a number of exceptions to the HEFCE policy. Please see the “Are there any exceptions?” section of the Library’s HEFCE Open Access Policy (REF) intranet page.


Will this change in future?

On 1st April 2017, HEFCE’s policy will change so that journal articles and conference proceedings (ISSN) will need to be deposited into ORO within three months of being accepted for publication. This is the point at which the article has been peer reviewed but not type set and copy edited. Follow the Library’s research support blog The ORB for updates.


Who can I contact with any questions?

Questions about the REF policy on open access should be directed to

To find out about how to deposit into ORO, contact


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *