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HEFCE Policy: Open access in the post-2014 Research Excellence Framework

In April 2014 HEFCE released its new policy on open access in the post-2014 REF.  While there are still some areas that are a little unclear or may require some new workflows, the policy is on the whole very good news, favouring the unpaid ‘green’ route to open access via deposit in a repository and outlining some genuinely useful exceptions.

The main points are summarised as follows:

Outputs covered by the policy

The policy applies to:

  • Journal articles and
  • Conference proceedings with an ISSN
  • Accepted for publication after 1 April 2016

The policy does not cover:

  • Monographs and other long-form publications (e.g., book chapters)
  • Conference proceedings with an ISBN (i.e., published as part of a book)
  • Non-text outputs
  • Data underpinning research
  • Output types requiring confidentiality (e.g., for security or commercial reasons)

Deposit requirements

In order for an output to be eligible for the REF the following must apply:

  • The output must be deposited in a repository (institutional, shared service or disciplinary) – you can use Exeter’s repository, ORE
  • The output must be deposited as soon after acceptance as possible and no later than three months after acceptance
  • The output deposited should be the accepted version (following peer review)
  • The accepted version may be replaced at a later date with the published version where this is permitted by the publisher
  • Pre-prints (the version prior to peer review) are not acceptable

Discovery requirements

  • The deposited item should contain sufficient information about the content (metadata) to facilitate its discovery via search engines such as Google
  • Where an accepted version is augmented or replaced by a published version, the same metadata requirements will apply

Access requirements

  • The full text of outputs should be fully open, i.e., PDF security settings should enable searching of the text, reading and downloading
  • CC-BY-NC-ND licences are strongly recommended but not mandatory.
  • RCUK/Wellcome-funded researchers will still need to use the CC-BY licence
    • Outputs deposited without a publisher embargo on access should meet all requirements as soon as possible and no later than one month after deposit
    • Outputs deposited with an embargo should meet all requirements as soon as possible and no later than one month after the embargo period expires
    • The embargo period starts from the point of publication (includes online publication)

Embargo periods

  • 12 months for REF Main Panel A and REF Main Panel B (http://www.ref.ac.uk/panels/unitsofassessment/)
  • 24 months for REF Main Panel C and REF Main Panel D
  • RCUK-funded research remains as before:
    • STEM/M ( MRC, NERC, BBSRC, etc.): six months
    • HASS (AHRC, ESRC, etc.): 12 months
  • Wellcome Trust: six months

Deposit Exceptions

There is a range of exceptions that can be read in the full policy, but include the following:

  • The researcher was not employed by a UK HEI at the time of submission for publication
  • It would be unlawful to deposit, or request deposit of, the output
  • Deposit of the output would present a security risk

Access Exceptions

  • The item contains third-party copyrighted material for which permission to publish on open access could not be obtained (within the given timescales or ever)
  • The publication requires an embargo period that is longer that what is recommended but is the most appropriate journal for the researcher
  • The publication does not permit any form of open access but is the most appropriate journal for the researcher
  • A closed deposit will be required with sufficient metadata for discovery

It’s still very early days but if you do have any questions or concerns at this point do take them to your DoR who can make sure they go forward to College research strategy groups.

General information about open access and ORE can be found on the Library’s open access website.


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