REF and Open Access

REF and Open Access

The UK Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 submission was made on 31 March 2021 with the results expected to be published in May 2022. The four UK higher education funding bodies have now launched the Future Research Assessment Programme to evaluate and review the current REF process.

Until further notice we must continue to ensure our research outputs comply with the REF2021 open access policy.

The policy requires that, in order to be eligible for submission in the next REF, all journal articles and conference proceedings with an ISSN number that have been accepted for publication on or after 1 April 2016 must be publicly accessible through an institutional or subject repository within 3 months of acceptance for publication. 

The policy does not apply to monographs or other long form publications, to non-textual outputs, research data, conference proceedings published with an International Standard Book Number (ISBN), or publications that must remain confidential for security or commercial reasons.


Repository Requirements

Time Lines


Journal Articles


Conference Proceedings with ISSN Number

Institutional repository (AURA); deposit through Pure

Subject repositories - arXiv; PubMed Central

Within 3 months of acceptance for publication


Where embargo applies, deposit must be made and metadata must be discoverable within 3 months of acceptance for publication

Acceptable embargo periods:

  • 12 months - Panels A, B (STEM)
  • 24 months - Panels C, D (HASS)

Final author version or 'post-print' which can be replaced with the final version at a later date


The full REF2021 policy can be accessed here

The Scholarly Communications team in the library can provide advice and support. 

What should researchers do? 

Any questions? E-mail