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REF 2021 open access (OA) policy

The four funding bodies who undertake the REF advocate the principle that outputs of research should be as widely accessible as possible and have introduced an Open Access Policy.

REF 2021 open access policy (paragraphs 105-114 and 223-255 in the Guidance on submissions)  applies to all journal articles and conference contributions (with an ISSN) accepted for publication after 1 April 2016 and published on or before 31st December 2020. St Mary’s University expects all publications within this scope to comply with the REF and be eligible to be included in the REF submission.

In order to be eligible for submission to the REF, deposit your accepted manuscript in St Mary’s University repository, Open Research Archive, on (within three months) acceptance for publication.

You can find out more about open access at St Mary’s University in our Process Framework and Research Publications and Open Access Policy.

Compliance with the REF 2021 Open Access policy

The five steps to compliance...

1: Deposit the correct version

The author’s accepted manuscript (AAM) should be deposited with the metadata record. This version, often a Word document, is the final version, after any peer review and edits, that is agreed to be published. It is not the published version which would normally contain the publisher’s typesetting, logo and page numbers. 

2: Deposit on time

Publications should be deposited in the Open Research Archive immediately on acceptance for publication and no later than three months (92 days) after the acceptance date. 

3: Apply for an exception

If the publication was not able to be deposited within the 3 month period it may be possible to apply an exception to enable compliance with the REF. Authors should check the full list of exceptions and email openaccess@stmarys.ac.uk if they think one may apply to their publication. 

4: Embargoes

The REF Open Access requirements allow authors (and repositories) to respect embargo periods set by publishers up to a maximum of 12 months for Main Panels A and B and a maximum of 24 months for Main Panels C and D. Publications must be deposited in the Open Research Archive within the 3 month period and Library Services check the journal and publisher’s website and SHERPA/RoMEO to establish whether a publisher requires an embargo and if so, the period. The embargoes are applied within the Open Research Archive; the metadata (including the abstract) is made publicly visible but the manuscript will not be made available until the end of the embargo period. An exception may be applied for a longer embargo if the journal is the most appropriate journal. Email openaccess@stmarys.ac.uk if you have any queries. 

5: Other research outputs

All types of research output publications, including book chapters, should be deposited in the Open Research Archive. All research related publications produced since 2014, whilst employed at the University, can be deposited.


Exceptions to the REF Open Access Policy

REF 2021 does in some circumstances allow exceptions to the Open Access Policy. If you have not been able to meet the requirements of the Policy, it may be possible to apply an exception. A full list of exceptions can be found below. Exceptions are applied in the Open Research Archive at the point of deposit. Authors may email openaccess@stmarys.ac.uk to request an exception be applied to their publication.

Deposit exceptions
  • DEPOSIT 1 (252a) At the point of acceptance, it was not possible to secure the use of a repository.
  • DEPOSIT 2 (252b) There was a delay in securing the final peer-reviewed text (for instance, where a paper has multiple authors).
  • DEPOSIT 3 (252c) The staff member to whom the output is attributed was not employed on a Category A eligible contract by a UK HEI at the time of submission for publication.
  • DEPOSIT 4 (252d) It would be unlawful to deposit, or request the deposit of, the output.
  • DEPOSIT 5 (252e) Depositing the output would present a security risk.
Access exceptions
  • ACCESS 1 (253a) The output depends on the reproduction of third-party content for which open access rights could not be granted (either within the specified timescales, or at all).
  • ACCESS 2 (253b) The publication concerned requires an embargo period that exceeds the stated maxima, and was the most appropriate publication for the output.
  • ACCESS 3 (253c) The publication concerned actively disallows open-access deposit in a repository, and was the most appropriate publication for the output.
Technical exceptions
  • TECH 1 (254a) At the point of acceptance, the staff member to whom the output is attributed was employed at a different UK HEI, and it has not been possible to determine compliance with the criteria.
  • TECH 2 (254b) The repository experienced a short-term or transient technical failure that prevented compliance with the criteria (this should not apply to systemic issues).
  • TECH 3 (254c) An external service provider failure prevented compliance (for instance, a subject repository did not enable open access at the end of the embargo period, or a subject repository ceased to operate).
Other exceptions
  • OTHER 1 (255a) An output is unable to meet the criteria due to circumstances beyond the control of the HEI, including extenuating personal circumstances of the author (such as periods of extended leave), industrial action, closure days, and software problems beyond those listed in the technical exceptions.
  • OTHER 2 (255b) Extended deposit deadline – The output was deposited within 3 months of publication not acceptance.