Open Access and the REF
The HEFCE open access policy came into force on 1 April 2016. In short:
- All journal articles and conference proceedings (with an ISSN) accepted for publication after 1 April 2016 must be deposited in a compliant open access repository within 3 months of first online publication (and within 3 months of acceptance from 1 April 2018).
- The file version must be the Author Accepted Manuscript.
- The outputs must not be subject to an embargo period exceeding 12 months for REF Main Panels A and B (STEM) or 24 months for REF Main Panels C and D (Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences).
- Outputs that are not compliant with this policy, and for which no valid exception was recorded, will receive an unclassified score if submitted.
What do I need to do?
As soon as your output is accepted for publication (and no later than 3 months after first online publication), use myPublications to deposit the Author Accepted Manuscript in WRRO (or ask a proxy to do so). This process takes no more than a few minutes. Full instructions are available on the myPublications support site.
Keep your myPublications outputs list up-to-date, since missing papers can't be checked. In many cases this can be done automatically by linking myPublications to services such as ORCID, Scopus and Web of Science. Guidance is available on the myPublications support site.
What will the Open Access Team do?
The Open Access Team checks every manuscript before making it live in WRRO. They will:
- check the publisher copyright to ensure that public posting is permitted
- set an embargo period where necessary
- review the metadata and ensure that the output is fully REF compliant
What will the REF Team do?
The REF Team in RIS use myPublications to identify outputs that run the risk of becoming ineligible: where the deadline is approaching and a manuscript has not been uploaded. They contact authors directly to remind them to upload. However, this depends upon myPublications being kept up-to-date - outputs not listed can't be checked.
What is meant by the Author Accepted Manuscript?
The AAM is the version that has:
It is often a Word version. Most publishers will allow the AAM to be deposited into an institutional repository, subject to an embargo period. The final PDF that appears on the publisher's website can't usually be deposited unless an article processing charge (APC) has been paid for Gold open access.
What is meant by the date of acceptance?
HEFCE define the date of acceptance as the point at which the author is notified that:
By this point, the paper should have been updated to include all changes resulting from peer review as well as any changes of an academic nature requested by the journal editor or conference organiser.
Publishers normally impose a delay on making papers open access (this is set out in the terms and conditions you agree to when you publish). You must still upload your AAM into WRRO within 3 months of first online publication (and within 3 months of acceptance from April 2017). The Open Access Team check the publisher's terms and conditions for every output, and apply any necessary embargo periods. The metadata will appear in WRRO, but the file itself will only be made open access after the embargo period.
In certain circumstances, an output can be submitted to the REF even though it does not comply with the REF Open Access Policy. See the further guidance on the exceptions and how to apply them.
What about Gold Open Access?
The final output doesn't have to be made open access through the Gold route to be eligible for the REF (i.e. you don't have to pay an open access fee or APC). However, if it was made Gold open access at the point of publication, then it doesn't need to be deposited it in WRRO to be REF compliant, although we recommend that you still do so since WRRO is highly ranked by Google, and there are other advantages to having them in our own repository. Outputs made Gold open access retrospectively are not compliant for REF.
Note that your funder's open access policy (especially RCUK or Wellcome Trust) may require Gold open access, but this is a separate policy to REF2021.
How can departments see an overview of their Open Access compliance?
OA Monitor is designed to help departments and faculties manage engagement and compliance with the REF Open Access policy:
- Easily see which outputs have been deposited in the repository and visualise gaps in engagement.
- Report on the level of compliance, by researcher or department, recognising those with high levels of engagement.
- Record exceptions against the REF policy.
Guidance on how to use OA Monitor is available on the myPublications support site. OA Monitor is available only to users with departmental administrator access. If you need access, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Help and support
Do not hesitate to contact the Open Access Team at OAEnquiries@sheffield.ac.uk for further assistance with specific outputs.
|What happens if I don't comply with the REF open access policy?||
Outputs that are not compliant with this policy, and for which no valid exception was recorded, will receive an unclassified score if submitted.
|How do I comply?||
When you receive notification from your publisher that your journal article or conference paper has been accepted for publication, then upload a copy of the AAM to myPublications. The deposit must take place within three months of first online publication (and within 3 months of acceptance from April 2017). The Open Access Team will check your manuscript version, verify the metadata, and deposit the metadata and manuscript in WRRO. Your work is then eligible for the post-2014 REF.
|Does the REF policy require deposit within 3 months of acceptance, or publication?||
The REF policy requires papers to be uploaded within 3 months after first online publication during the first year of the policy, and then within 3 months of acceptance from April 2018.
|Can I wait to upload until I get an email from myPublications asking me to claim my output?||
In some disciplines, myPublications finds outputs in databases like Scopus and Web of Science for you to "claim". However, outputs only appear in these databases at the point of publication, which may well be longer than 3 months after acceptance. You should not wait to receive these notifications, but rather deposit your AAM into WRRO as soon as the paper is accepted.
|Can someone else upload my output for me?||
Yes. Although it is each author's responsibility to ensure that their outputs are deposited, an administrator can make the deposit in myPublications on your behalf. Many departments have dedicated REF support who have access to everyone in their department. Remember that only you can provide the correct manuscript. If you would like to add another delegate, in myPublications go to "Manage Delegates" in the "My Account" box under the menu tab.
|Do all Sheffield co-authors have to upload the same paper?||
No. If an output is co-authored by several Sheffield researchers, only one of them needs to deposit the paper into WRRO. As long as all the Sheffield authors have claimed the myPublications record, it will appear on all their publications lists.
|I don't have a copy of the AAM. What do I do?||
HEFCE expects authors to make all reasonable efforts to get hold of the manuscript. If you are the corresponding author, please ask your publisher for a copy. If you are the non-corresponding author, we advise you to ask your corresponding author for a copy or for the link to the manuscript if they have already deposited it in a repository.
If you are struggling to gain a copy of the manuscript and are in danger of missing the deadline, then contact OAEnquiries@sheffield.ac.uk. There is an exception in the REF policy to cover circumstances in which the manuscript is not available, although you will need to describe the efforts undertaken to source it. This will be kept on file for use in the REF submission.
|My publisher will not permit me to deposit my AAM into a repository, or their embargo period is too long. What do I do?||
Where a journal does not allow open access at all, or has an embargo period that is too long, you are encouraged to consider publishing in an alternative journal. If you still wish to publish in the journal as it is the most appropriate publication for the research, then the AAM should still be uploaded to WRRO within 3 months of first online publication (and within 3 months of acceptance from April 2017). Problems with excessive embargo periods are determined by the Library as the record is processed. You will be asked to provide brief a brief explanation as to why the journal was the most appropriate place to publish, which will be kept on file for use in the REF submission.
|If a journal has an embargo, should I wait until after this to deposit my manuscript?||
No. Please deposit as soon after acceptance as possible. The Open Access Team will check for and apply any required publisher embargoes before the manuscript becomes available in WRRO.
|My output has been published in a Gold open access journal, do I have to upload a copy to WRRO?||
No. If the publication was made open access through the Gold route at the point of publication, then you do not need to deposit into WRRO to be compliant with the REF policy. However, we still recommend that you do so since WRRO is highly ranked by Google, and there are other advantages to having outputs in the our own repository.
|Will depositing my output in arXiv meet the REF requirements?||
We recognise that it is common practice in some disciplines to deposit manuscripts in arXiv. However, arXiv does not meet the REF technical and audit requirements. This is because arXiv records neither the version of paper deposited nor the date when the publisher accepted the manuscript. In addition, many papers deposited in arXiv are often pre-prints (papers which have not yet been accepted for publication) rather than the author accepted manuscripts as required for REF.
The University does not consider outputs deposited solely in arXiv as meeting the REF policy. Where an output has been accepted for publication by a journal or conference proceeding, it should be deposited in WRRO using myPublications (it can, of course, also be deposited in arXiv). By doing this, authors can be absolutely certain that their output is REF compliant.
|I've already deposited my work in another repository. Do I have to put it in WRRO too?||
It depends. There are numerous technical requirements that a repository must comply with to be REF eligible. In addition, the manuscript deposited must be the correct version, with some repositories such as arXiv mainly hosting mainly ineligible pre-prints. To be certain of eligibility, you should upload the manuscript into WRRO.
Sites like ResearchGate and Academia.edu are social networking sites with commercial business models. They do not ensure long-term access to deposited publications and registration is often required to access papers. Uploading to these sites does not satisfy the requirements of the REF open access policy.
|Can I still publish in the journal I have always published in?||
Yes. HEFCE and the University are clear that authors have free choice to publish in the journal or publication that is most appropriate.
|Should I deposit all my outputs, even if I'm not sure that they will be REF candidates?||
Yes. We recommend that you deposit all outputs that your department may later wish to submit to REF2021. It is not possible to comply with the policy retrospectively, and outputs that have not been deposited within 3 months of first online publication (and within 3 months of acceptance from April 2017) cannot be submitted to REF2021. The exact arrangements for the next REF are not yet known, but given the changes recommended in the Stern Review it is likely that departments may be able to submit more outputs per person than the traditional four.
|How can I find out what my journal's open access policy is?|
|I was not at a UK university when the output was submitted. Do I need to do this?||
No. Researchers joining us from abroad whose outputs did not need to meet the HEFCE requirements when published would be eligible for REF as exceptions. Future outputs will fall within the REF policy.
|I won't be at Sheffield when the next REF happens. Do I still have to upload my outputs?||
Yes. It is important that all papers that fall under the policy are uploaded, so that they are eligible for submission - regardless of where the authors are based at the time of the next REF.
|Do letters, editorials, replies and corrections need to be uploaded?||
Letters, editorials, replies and corrections appear in myPublications as "Journal articles". Where you are certain that such outputs will not be submitted to the REF, then there is no need for them to be uploaded.
|Do Research Assistants need to upload their outputs?||
Yes. It is not yet clear how the next REF will be conducted. It is important that all outputs that fall under the policy are uploaded, so that they are eligible for submission - regardless of where you may be based at the time of the next REF.
|My working paper has been online for some time. Do I still need to upload the accepted manuscript, after it's accepted for publication?||
Yes. The REF policy applies to the AAM, not to the draft (pre-print).
|Do minor corrections necessitate a new deposit?||
If corrections arise from peer-review and are academically necessary, then this would require a new deposit to represent the final, accepted manuscript. However, if the minor corrections arise from copy-editing, then a new deposit is not required. You may choose to make a new deposit, even where not required, and as long as they have not arisen from peer-review then this will not affect the initial (earlier) upload date.
|Do I risk breaching my publisher's copyright conditions if I upload to WRRO?||
The Open Access Team check every manuscript before making it live in WRRO. They will ensure that you do not infringe copyright; will set an appropriate embargo in line with the publisher's requirements; and ensure that the output is fully REF compliant.
|I cannot make my output open access because of IP or security reasons. What do I do?||
HEFCE have allowed for a number of exceptions where work cannot meet their open access eligibility requirements. If it is unlawful to deposit or it would present a security risk, then your work should not be deposited to a repository, and eligibility for submission to the REF2021 is not affected. You should contact OAEnquiries@sheffield.ac.uk for further assistance.
|Open access rights cannot be granted for third-party content. What should I do?||
If your paper contains third-party content for which open access rights cannot be granted you have the option to upload the text on its own. However, HEFCE recognises that the third-party content may be essential to the publication, and allows an exception in these circumstances. You should upload the manuscript to WRRO as usual, and let the Open Access Team know that your paper includes third-party content using the comments section.
|Do I have to pay an open access fee or APC for my work to be eligible?||
No. You can choose to publish in a Gold open access journal if that is the most appropriate publication for you, but it is not a requirement for post-2014 REF eligibility. Your funder's open access policy, i.e. RCUK or Wellcome Trust, may mean that you do need to publish your work on gold open access, and pay an open access fee or APC, but this is a separate policy to REF2021.
|The publisher's website says that my paper is "free", or shows an open padlock. Do I still have to upload it?||
Publishers often make papers freely available for a limited period of time. This is not the same as Gold open access, which means that the paper will be openly available in perpetuity on the publisher's website. An open padlock on the publisher's website does not denote open access. Often this is simply an indication that the content has been made available through a Sheffield subscription. Gold open access papers are normally labelled "open access", and usually contain a Creative Commons licence statement.
|Will depositing my manuscript for REF also meet the open access requirements of my funders?||
Not necessarily. Some funders prefer immediate open access with no embargo or specify a relatively short maximum embargo period. This may require authors to choose the Gold route to open access or to ensure they select a journal which accommodates their funder requirements.