Open Access and the REF

The REF requires Open Access. In April 2014, on behalf of the four UK Higher Education Funding Councils, HEFCE published the Policy for open access in the post-2014 Research Excellence Framework. The policy states that:

"To be eligible for submission to the post-2014 REF, authors' final peer-reviewed manuscripts must have been deposited in an institutional or subject repository on acceptance of publication. Deposited material should be discoverable and free to read and download, for anyone with an internet connection."

The policy applies to: 

  • All researchers (staff and students) based at UK HEIs and supports the Green open access route via institutional or subject-based repositories. 
  • All journal articles and published conference proceedings with an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) accepted for publication from 1st April 2016.

For outputs to be eligible for the next REF, authors must ensure that:

  • All journal articles and conference proceedings with an ISSN accepted for publication from 1st April 2016 must be made open access via our USW Research Explorer, the University’s institutional repository.
  • The author’s accepted and final peer reviewed text must be deposited in USW Research Explorer, via Pure on acceptance of publication.
  • Authors note any embargo periods. REF guidelines state that embargo periods should not exceed the following time periods: 12 months (Panel A and B) or 24 months (Panel C and D).


There are a number of exceptions to the policy which will still permit an output to be admissible to the REF. Authors will need to notify the University if they believe that their output is eligible as an exception to the policy. The policy does not apply to monographs, other long form publications, non-text, creative and practice based research, and research data.