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Open Access: Open Access and the REF


Open Access and the REF

Research England recognise that Open Access can make research more impactful and efficient, and can benefit many people. They have therefore introduced an Open Access policy for REF2021. The policy states that to be eligible for submission to REF 2021, authors' outputs must have been deposited in an institutional or subject repository within three months of acceptance for publication. Deposited material should be discoverable, and free to read and download, for anyone with an internet connection. However, the policy allows repositories to respect embargo periods set by publishers.

Which outputs does the policy apply to?

The policy applies only to journal articles and conference proceedings with an ISSN that have been accepted for publication after the 1st April 2016.  

It does not apply to monographs, book chapters, other long-form publications, working papers, creative or practice-based research outputs, or data.

How do I comply?

To comply with the policy, you must deposit the author accepted manuscript of your journal articles and conference proceedings in Liverpool Elements within three months of acceptance. If you are new to Liverpool Elements and would like help getting started please contact

What if I am unable to comply with the policy?

The policy acknowledges that there will be circumstances in which researchers may be unable to comply and therefore a number of exceptions to the various requirements will be allowed. These exceptions cover circumstances where deposit was not possible, or where open access to deposited material could not be achieved within the policy requirements. These exceptions and the full requirements are set out in the full policy document. If you believe one of these exceptions applies to a research output then you can set this in Liverpool Elements or contact

I've heard the policy will change in the future to include books - is this correct?

There is an expectation that the post-2021 REF will require submitted monographs to be available on an Open Access basis. However, Research England recognise that achieving this will be more difficult than with journal articles therefore consultations will take place to ensure a range of appropriate measures and exceptions are put in place.