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Open access and the REF

The REF was first carried out in 2014, replacing the previous Research Assessment Exercise. The REF is undertaken by the four UK higher education funding bodies: Research England, the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), and the Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland (DfE). Post-2014 saw the announcement of the Research Excellence Framework policy on open access, and published revisions to this policy in July 2015 and November 2016. The policy applies to journal articles or conference papers published in proceedings with an ISSN. A link to the policy on submission for the 2021 REF can be found here.

What are researchers asked to do?

In order to ensure all researchers are eligible for the 2021 REF, Queen Mary introduced the following requirements from 1st September 2015.

A downloadable version of the requirements can be found here:

Meeting the Post-2014 REF Open Access policy [PDF 448KB]

Researchers must:

  • Create a bibliographic (metadata) record in Elements for every journal article or conference paper (in proceedings with an ISSN), immediately on acceptance for publication, and no later than 3 months thereafter.
  • Deposit the accepted version of the manuscript into the institutional repository Queen Mary Research Online (QMRO), or a subject repository of the author’s choosing, within 3 months of acceptance for publication.

Please note:

Manuscripts are deposited in QMRO by uploading the file in Elements, files cannot be directly uploaded into QMRO.

If you submitted supplementary materials (tables, figures etc.) with an output, these files should also be deposited in to the repository.

Getting it right for REF...why are you required to do this?

Research England introduced the following requirements as part of the policy on open access in the next REF:

  • Any journal article or conference paper with an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) that you want included in the REF is subject to its open access policy.
  • The accepted manuscript must be deposited in a repository.
  • The accepted version of the manuscript must be deposited within 3 months of publication between 1st April 2016 - 31st March 2018; and within 3 months of acceptance for publication from 1st April 2018 onwards.
  • If you have published your work in an open access or hybrid journal under a CC BY license, then you only need to deposit the metadata in a repository with a link to the published version.


If you are unsure if your research has to comply with the post-2014 REF Open Access policy please contact the Repository and Research Information Team for advice.

As a quick checklist, the REF open access policy does not apply to:

  • Monographs
  • Book chapters, other long-form publications
  • Working papers
  • Creative or practice-based research outputs
  • Data

Further information

We will be running a series of briefings and workshops over the coming months; to book onto a workshop or to find out about the next briefing session or drop-in, email the Repository and Research Information Team.

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