Open Access

Funder and REF Requirements for Open Access

Discover what researchers need to do in order to comply with funder Open Access policies


Introduction

Funding organisations want the research that they support to be as impactful as possible. High-impact research helps to accelerate development internationally, which therefore means that the funder gets more value for their money. Open research practices (such as Open Access and Open Data) can help to maximise research impact and are therefore important to many funders. When research is open, it also helps publicly-funded organisations to demonstrate their value to taxpayers - and therefore to secure continued public funding.

For these reasons, many funders now have policies that require certain open research practices to be observed. These policies typically focus on Open Access, but some also include Open Data requirements as well. There are similar elements across many policies. For example, many policies focus primarily on journal articles and aim for these to be as open as possible, as soon as possible. However, each policy can differ greatly in the details. For example, there may be differences in the deadlines that the funder imposes, or in the routes and licences that the funder prefers.

Introducing Plan S

A number of funders (known collectively as "cOAlition S") have recently produced and signed up to "Plan S". Plan S is a set of principles and guidelines that are intended to accelerate the shift towards making Open Access the default form of scholarly communication. At the moment, different funders are implementing Plan S to varying degrees and in different ways. However, one hope is that different Open Access policies will eventually begin to align more easily, as funders continue to use Plan S for inspiration. You can read more about "Plan S" on the "cOAlition S" website.

Using This Guide

This guide summarises a selection of funder policies, which have been highlighted because of their importance to researchers at RGU. This list of policies is not exhaustive. If you are interested in the policy of a different funder, you can always consult the SHERPA Juliet database, or you can contact the Publications Team.

For each funder, we first provide an overview and then an indication of whether the funder has signed up to Plan S. For each funder policy, we provide the following information:

  • Outputs Affected: The types of research output covered by the policy.
  • Route Preferred: Whether a particular route to Open Access is preferred.
  • Gold Requirements: The funder's requirements when using the Gold route.
  • Help with APCs: Whether the funder provides support for the costs of Gold Open Access.
  • Green Requirements: The funder's requirements when using the Green route.
  • Other Requirements: Any other requirements in the policy, incuding requirements around research data.
  • Full Policy: A link to the full policy details as provided by the funder.

The content of this guide uses a lot of specific terminology to summarise funder policies. If you are unfamiliar with this terminology or want any further information, then you might find some of our other researcher guides useful:

  • The Basics of Open Access: This guide includes general information about Open Access terms, including definitions of "Green" and "Gold" routes.
  • Open Licensing: This guide provides more information about the different types of open licences that exist.
  • Paying for Gold: This guide provides more information about the Gold route and outlines some of the support that is available to RGU researchers for covering the associated costs.

Please get in touch with the Publications Team if you have any questions about funder policies or compliance.


EU Requirements (Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe)

Overview

The European Union provides research funding primarily through framework programmes, which support a large number of projects and initiatives. Horizon 2020 was the eighth framework programme, covering projects between 2014 and 2020. Horizon Europe is the ninth framework programme, covering the period between 2021 and 2027.

Plan S Funder

Yes - this funder has signed up to the principles of Plan S. This has influenced their policy for Horizon Europe.

Policy for Horizon 2020 (Projects dated between 2014-2020)

Outputs Affected

Peer-reviewed research articles published in journals. The funder encourages Open Access for all other types of output as well.

Route Preferred

No preference; both Gold and Green routes can be compliant.

Gold Requirements

  • Location: The version of record must be available open access from the publisher's website.
  • Deadline: None specified.
  • Licence: The version of record must be distributed under any Creative Commons licence.
  • Additional requirements: When signing the publishing agreement, authors should retain copyright. The accepted manuscript must also be deposited in a repository (like RGU's OpenAIR), no later than the date of first online publication.

Help with APCs

The funder will reimburse the costs of Gold Open Access only when these are incurred before the end of the project. Additionally, the funder provides the "Open Research Europe" platform, which can be used for Gold Open Access publication of EU-funded research at no cost to authors.

Green Requirements

  • Location: The accepted manuscript or version of record must be available open access from a repository (like RGU's OpenAIR).
  • Deadline: The full text must be deposited in a repository by the date of first online publication. Embargoes on public access to the repository version must not exceed 6 months, or 12 months if the research is based in the arts, humanities or social sciences.
  • Licence: The repository version should be distributed under as open a licence as possible. Creative Commons licences are preferred.
  • Additional requirements: None specified.

Other Requirements

  • Research data should be deposited in a repository by the time the corresponding article has been published.
  • All articles should include a data access statement.

Full Policy

The full policy can be found on the funder's website.

Policy for Horizon Europe (Projects dated between 2021-2027)

Outputs Affected

Peer-reviewed scientific publications. This includes journal articles, book chapters and long-form works (e.g. monographs). The funder encourages Open Access for all other types of output as well.

Route Preferred

No preference; both Gold and Green routes can be compliant.

Gold Requirements

  • Location: The version of record must be available open access from the publisher's website.
  • Deadline: The version of record must be immediately open access from the date of first online publication.
  • Licence: The version of record must be distributed under a Creative Commons CC BY licence or equivalent. Long-form outputs may use a licence with more restrictions on commercial uses or derivatives, such as CC BY-NC, CC BY-ND, or CC BY-NC-ND.
  • Additional requirements: The accepted manuscript or version of record must also be deposited in a repository (like RGU's OpenAIR), no later than the date of first online publication.

Help with APCs

The funder will reimburse the costs of Gold Open Access only when these are incurred before the end of the project, and when the output has been published in a fully open access venue (i.e. not in a hybrid journal). Additionally, the funder provides the "Open Research Europe" platform, which can be used for Gold Open Access publication of EU-funded research at no cost to authors.

Green Requirements

  • Location: The accepted manuscript or version of record must be available open access from a repository (like RGU's OpenAIR).
  • Deadline: The full text must be deposited in a repository by the date of first online publication. Embargoes on public access to the repository version must not exceed 0 months, so the repository version must be open access no later than the date of first online publication.
  • Licence: The repository version must be distributed under a Creative Commons CC BY licence or equivalent. Long-form outputs may use a licence with more restrictions on commercial uses or derivatives, such as CC BY-NC, CC BY-ND, or CC BY-NC-ND.
  • Additional requirements: None specified.

Other Requirements

  • When signing the publishing agreement, authors must retain sufficient rights to enable compliance with the policy.
  • All outputs must include a data access statement - either in the full text or in the repository metadata. This statement should cover any other outputs, tools or instruments that are needed to validate the research (e.g. data, software, protocols, etc.). These should also be open access, where possible.
  • Research data must be managed according to FAIR principles. The project must also have a data management plan.
  • Research data should be deposited in a repository as soon as possible, at the latest by the end of the project. When data underpin a publication, they should instead be deposited no later than the date of first online publication. In either case, data should be distributed under a licence that is equivalent to (or more open than) a Creative Commons CC BY licence. The guiding principal should be "as open as possible, as closed as necessary".
  • Some funding calls may have further specific requirements.

Full Policy

The full policy is detailed on pages 108-110 of the Model Grant Agreement, with further information on pages 154-161 of the Annotated Grant Agreement.


REF Requirements

Overview

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is a national audit of research quality at UK institutions. Results from the REF are used to compare and benchmark institutions. The results also contribute to decisions made by national bodies such as Research England and the Scottish Funding Council, when determining funding allocations for institutions. The most recent REF exercise was REF2021. The REF is co-ordinated under UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), but has a separate Open Access policy.

The current REF policy for Open Access was created for REF2021. However, this policy is still in effect for outputs produced since the REF2021 submission. We expect this policy to be replaced at some point before the next REF exercise, but we do not yet know when this will occur.

Plan S Funder

Yes - this funder has signed up to the principles of Plan S. This is expected to influence the next policy, but is not reflected in the current policy.

Current Policy

Outputs Affected

Journal articles and conference papers published with an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN), which were accepted for publication on or after the 1st April 2016. This includes research articles, review articles, systematic reviews, rapid communications, discussion papers and creative articles. It also includes any conference papers that are published in journals or book/proceedings series.

Route Preferred

No preference; both Gold and Green routes can be compliant.

Gold Requirements

  • Location: The version of record must be available open access from the publisher's website.
  • Deadline: The version of record must be immediately open access from the date of first online publication.
  • Licence: None specified. RGU considers an output to be compliant if the version of record is distributed under terms equivalent to (or more open than) a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.
  • Additional requirements: None specified.

Help with APCs

The funder does not provide any support for covering the costs of Gold Open Access.

Green Requirements

  • Location: The accepted manuscript or version of record must be available open access from a repository (like RGU's OpenAIR).
  • Deadline: The full text must be deposited in a repository within 3 months of the date of acceptance. Embargoes on public access to the repository version must not exceed 12 months for outputs submitted to panels A or B (i.e. STEM disciplines), or 24 months for outputs submitted to panels C or D (i.e. arts, humanities or social sciences).
  • Licence: None specified. RGU considers an output to be compliant if the version of record is distributed under terms equivalent to (or more open than) a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.
  • Additional requirements: Some exceptions are available to help address certain cases where the above requirements cannot be met.

Other Requirements

None specified.

Full Policy

The full policy is detailed on pages 54-60 (paragraphs 223-259) of the Guidance on Submissions.


UK Health Charities Requirements

Overview

Five major UK charities that sponsor medical research all have very similar requirements for Open Access. They are therefore summarised together in this section. These charities are:

The Wellcome Trust has a significantly different policy, which is therefore described in a separate section of this guide.

Plan S Funders

Varies - these funders have not yet signed up to the principles of Plan S. However, Cancer Research UK has expressed support for some of the principles of Plan S.

Blood Cancer UK

Outputs Affected

Peer-reviewed research articles published in journals.

Route Preferred

Gold route preferred, but Green route is also compliant.

Gold Requirements

  • Location: The version of record must be available open access from the publisher's website.
  • Deadline: The version of record must be immediately open access from the date of first online publication.
  • Licence: The version of record must be distributed under a Creative Commons CC BY licence when an APC has been paid. When an APC has not been paid, no specific licence is required, but a CC BY licence is still preferred.
  • Additional requirements: The version of record must also be deposited in Europe PMC within 6 months from the date of first online publication.

Help with APCs

The funder is willing to discuss financial support for APCs on a case-by-case basis, but cannot guarantee that costs will be covered. Contact research@bloodcancer.org.uk.

Green Requirements

  • Location: The accepted manuscript or version of record must be available open access from Europe PMC.
  • Deadline: The full text must be deposited in Europe PMC within 6 months from the date of first online publication.
  • Licence: The full text should be distributed under as open a licence as possible, preferring a Creative Commons CC BY licence if available.
  • Additional requirements: None specified.

Other Requirements

None specified.

Full Policy

The full policy is detailed on the funder's website.

British Heart Foundation

Outputs Affected

Peer-reviewed research articles and non-commissioned review articles published in journals.

Route Preferred

Gold route preferred, but Green route is also compliant.

Gold Requirements

  • Location: The version of record must be available open access from the publisher's website.
  • Deadline: The version of record must be immediately open access from the date of first online publication.
  • Licence: The version of record must be distributed under a Creative Commons CC BY licence.
  • Additional requirements: The version of record must also be deposited in Europe PMC immediately from the date of first online publication.

Help with APCs

The funder provides a block grant to certain institutions. RGU has not received any of this block grant and so therefore there is no direct support from the funder to help with the costs of APCs.

Green Requirements

  • Location: The accepted manuscript or version of record must be available open access from Europe PMC.
  • Deadline: The full text must be deposited in Europe PMC within 6 months from the date of first online publication.
  • Licence: None specified.
  • Additional requirements: None specified.

Other Requirements

None specified.

Full Policy

The full policy is detailed on the funder's website.

Cancer Research UK

Outputs Affected

Peer-reviewed research articles and meta analyses published in journals or databases.

Route Preferred

Gold route preferred, but Green route is also compliant.

Gold Requirements

  • Location: The version of record must be available open access from Europe PMC.
  • Deadline: For articles accepted on or after 1st January 2022, the version of record must be immediately open access from the date of first online publication. For older articles, the version of record must be open access within 6 months from the same date.
  • Licence: The version of record must be distributed under a Creative Commons CC BY licence when an APC has been paid. When an APC has not been paid, no specific licence is required, but a CC BY licence is still preferred.
  • Additional requirements: None specified.

Help with APCs

The funder provides a block grant to certain institutions. RGU has not received any of this block grant and so therefore there is no direct support from the funder to help with the costs of APCs.

Green Requirements

  • Location: The accepted manuscript or version of record must be available open access from Europe PMC.
  • Deadline: For articles accepted on or after 1st January 2022, the full text must be deposited in Europe PMC immediately from the date of first online publication. For older articles, the full text must be deposited within 6 months from the same date.
  • Licence: The full text should be distributed under a Creative Commons CC BY licence if possible.
  • Additional requirements: None specified.

Other Requirements

None specified.

Full Policy

The full policy is detailed on the funder's website.

Parkinson's UK

Outputs Affected

Peer-reviewed research articles and non-commissioned review articles published in journals.

Route Preferred

Gold route preferred, but Green route is also compliant.

Gold Requirements

  • Location: The version of record must be available open access from Europe PMC.
  • Deadline: The version of record must be immediately open access from the date of first online publication.
  • Licence: The version of record must be distributed under a Creative Commons CC BY licence when an APC has been paid. When an APC has not been paid, no specific licence is required, but a CC BY licence is still preferred.
  • Additional requirements: None specified.

Help with APCs

The funder recommends that Open Access costs should be included in grant applications. The funder is also willing to discuss financial support for APCs on a case-by-case basis, but cannot guarantee that costs will be covered. Contact researchapplications@parkinsons.org.uk.

Additionally, the funder has an arrangement with the AMRC Open Research platform, whereby many kinds of output (including research articles, data and software articles, systematic reviews and protocols) can be published Gold Open Access for free.

Green Requirements

  • Location: The accepted manuscript or version of record must be available open access from Europe PMC.
  • Deadline: The full text must be deposited in Europe PMC within 6 months from the date of first online publication.
  • Licence: The full text should be distributed under a Creative Commons CC BY licence if possible.
  • Additional requirements: None specified.

Other Requirements

None specified.

Full Policy

The full policy is detailed on the funder's website.

Versus Arthritis

Outputs Affected

Peer-reviewed research articles published in journals.

Route Preferred

Gold route preferred, but Green route is also compliant.

Gold Requirements

  • Location: The version of record must be available open access from the publisher's website.
  • Deadline: The version of record must be immediately open access from the date of first online publication.
  • Licence: The version of record must be distributed under a Creative Commons CC BY licence when an APC has been paid. When an APC has not been paid, no specific licence is required, but a CC BY licence is still preferred.
  • Additional requirements: The version of record must also be deposited in Europe PMC within 6 months from the date of first online publication.

Help with APCs

The funder is willing to discuss financial support for APCs on a case-by-case basis, but cannot guarantee that costs will be covered. Contact the funder through Grant Tracker.

Green Requirements

  • Location: The accepted manuscript or version of record must be available open access from Europe PMC.
  • Deadline: The full text must be deposited in Europe PMC within 6 months from the date of first online publication.
  • Licence: The full text should be distributed under a Creative Commons CC BY licence if possible.
  • Additional requirements: None specified.

Other Requirements

None specified.

Full Policy

The full policy is detailed on the funder's website.


UKRI Requirements (including Innovate UK)

Overview

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) incorporates Innovate UK, Research England and the seven UK national research councils: the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). UKRI represents a significant proportion of UK public funding for research.

UKRI was preceded by the organisation called Research Councils UK (RCUK). The RCUK Open Access policy continues to apply until the 1st April 2022, when the new UKRI policy comes into effect.

Plan S Funder

Yes - this funder has signed up to the principles of Plan S. This has influenced the new UKRI policy.

RCUK Policy (Until 31st March 2022)

Outputs Affected

Peer-reviewed research articles and non-commissioned review articles published in journals or conference proceedings. The funder encourages Open Access for all other types of output as well.

Route Preferred

Gold route preferred, but the Green route can be compliant as well.

Gold Requirements

  • Location: The version of record must be available open access from the publisher's website.
  • Deadline: The version of record must be immediately open access from the date of first online publication.
  • Licence: The version of record must be distributed under a Creative Commons CC BY licence.
  • Additional requirements: Outputs funded by MRC must also have the version of record deposited on Europe PMC within 6 months from the date of first online publication.

Help with APCs

The funder provides a block grant to certain institutions. RGU is currently in receipt of a small portion of this block grant. Further details of how to apply for use of the block grant are available in a separate guide.

Green Requirements

  • Location: The accepted manuscript or version of record must be available open access from a repository (like RGU's OpenAIR).
  • Deadline: The full text must be deposited in a repository before the end of any publisher-mandated embargo. Embargoes on public access to the repository version must not exceed 6 months, or 12 months if the outputs is from a discipline in the arts, humanities or social sciences. When financial support for Gold Open Access is unavailable, these maximum permitted embargoes are doubled in length (i.e. to 12 and 24 months, respectively).
  • Licence: The full text must be distributed under a licence that is equivalent to (or more open than) a Creative Commons CC BY-NC licence.
  • Additional requirements: Outputs funded by MRC must also have the accepted manuscript deposited on Europe PMC within 6 months from the date of first online publication.

Other Requirements

  • All articles must include a data access statement.

Full Policy

The full policy is detailed on the funder's website.

UKRI Policy (From 1st April 2022)

Outputs Affected

Peer-reviewed research articles (including reviews and conference papers), published in a journal, in a set of conference proceedings with an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN), or on an online publishing platform. Covers research articles submitted for publication on or after the 1st April 2022.

Monographs, book chapters and edited collections. Covers long-form publications published on or after the 1st January 2024.

Route Preferred

For research articles, the Gold route is preferred, but the Green route can be compliant as well. For long-form publications, only the Gold route is compliant.

Gold Requirements

  • Location: For research articles and long-form publications, the version of record must be available open access from the publisher's website or publishing platform.
  • Deadline: For research articles, the version of record must be immediately open access from the date of first online publication. For long-form publications, the version of record must be open access within 12 months from the same date.
  • Licence: For research articles, the version of record must be distributed under a Creative Commons CC BY licence, or under a CC BY-ND licence if the funder agrees to an exception. For long-form publications, the version of record must be distributed under any Creative Commons licence, though CC BY is still preferred. Alternatively, both research articles and long-form publications may use an Open Government Licence (OGL), if the work is covered by Crown Copyright.
  • Additional requirements: Outputs funded by BBSRC or MRC must also have the version of record deposited on Europe PMC. For MRC-funded outputs, this must happen within 6 months from the date of first online publication.

Help with APCs

The funder provides a block grant to certain institutions. RGU is currently in receipt of a small portion of this block grant, but it is not guaranteed that RGU will continue to receive block grant funding in future years. If the block grant continues to be available, it will only be used to support articles that are published in a fully open access journal or platform, or in a hybrid journal that is covered by one of RGU Library's offset deals. Further details of how to apply for use of the block grant are available in a separate guide.

Green Requirements

  • Location: For research articles and long-form publications, the accepted manuscript or version of record must be available open access from a repository (like RGU's OpenAIR).
  • Deadline: For research articles, the full text must be deposited in a repository before the date of first online publication. Embargoes on public access to the repository version must not exceed 0 months, so the repository version must be open access no later than the date of first online publication. For long-form publications, the full text must be deposited and open access within 12 months from the date of first online publication.
  • Licence: For research articles, the version of record must be distributed under a Creative Commons CC BY licence, or under a CC BY-ND licence if the funder agrees to an exception. For long-form publications, the version of record must be distributed under any Creative Commons licence, though CC BY is still preferred. Alternatively, both research articles and long-form publications may use an Open Government Licence (OGL), if the work is covered by Crown Copyright.
  • Additional requirements: Outputs funded by BBSRC or MRC must also have the accepted manuscript deposited on Europe PMC. For MRC-funded outputs, this must happen within 6 months from the date of first online publication.

Other Requirements

  • Authors must include the following set statement when submitting articles for publication: "For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising." This statement should be included in the funder acknowledgement section of the manuscript and any cover letter.
  • All articles must include a data access statement.
  • Journal websites, online publishing platforms and repositories must meet certain technical requirements in order to be considered compliant venues for Gold or Green Open Access.
  • Authors are encouraged to share preprints of their work. UKRI reserves the right to enforce sharing of preprints during emergencies. Individual councils may have their own requirements around preprints (for example, MRC and BBSRC).
  • The funder is willing to consider exceptions for long-form publications on a case-by-case basis, if Open Access does not seem possible. Contact openresearch@ukri.org to discuss.

Full Policy

The full policy is detailed on the funder's website.


Wellcome Trust Requirements

Overview

The Wellcome Trust is a health charity based in the UK. It invests a vast amount of money into health research across the world, focusing particularly on urgent challenges affecting life, health and wellbeing.

Plan S Funder

Yes - this funder has signed up to the principles of Plan S. This has influenced their current policy.

Current Policy

Outputs Affected

Peer-reviewed research articles, monographs and book chapters.

Route Preferred

For research articles, the Gold route is preferred, but the Green route can be compliant as well. For monographs and book chapters, only the Gold route is compliant.

Gold Requirements

  • Location: For research articles, the version of record must be available open access from Europe PMC and PubMed Central. For monographs and book chapters, the version of record must be available open access from Europe PMC and the NCBI Bookshelf.
  • Deadline: For research articles, the version of record must be immediately open access from the date of first online publication. For monographs and book chapters, the version of record must be open access within 6 months from the same date.
  • Licence: For research articles, the version of record must be distributed under a Creative Commons CC BY licence, or under a CC BY-ND licence if the funder agrees to an exception. For monographs and book chapters, the version of record must be distributed under any Creative Commons licence, with CC BY being preferred.
  • Additional requirements: None specified.

Help with APCs

The funder will provide financial support to cover the costs of Gold Open Access, both for research articles, and also for monographs and book chapters. Contact openaccess@wellcome.org to discuss. For research articles, the funder will provide financial support only if the article is published in a fully open access journal or platform, or in a hybrid journal that is covered by one of RGU Library's offset deals.

Green Requirements

The Green requirements below apply only to research articles. Monographs and book chapters can comply with the policy only through the Gold route.

  • Location: The accepted manuscript or version of record must be available open access from Europe PMC and PubMed Central.
  • Deadline: The full text must be deposited in Europe PMC and PubMed Central immediately from the date of first online publication.
  • Licence: The full text must be distributed under a Creative Commons CC BY licence, or under a CC BY-ND licence if the funder agrees to an exception.
  • Additional requirements: None specified.

Other Requirements

  • Grants from this funder include a condition that means grantholders will automatically grant a CC BY licence to all future accepted manuscripts that report original research arising from a Wellcome-funded project. Authors must therefore include the following set statement when submitting articles to peer-reviewed journals: "This research was funded in whole, or in part, by the Wellcome Trust [Grant number]. For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission." This statement should be included in the funder acknowledgement section of the manuscript and any cover letter.
  • All articles must include a data access statement.
  • Authors are encouraged to share preprints of their work. This is a requirement for research with significant public health benefits (such as research addressing a disease outbreak).

Full Policy

The full policy is detailed on the funder's website.