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Open Access Review

UKRI is reviewing its open access policies for peer-reviewed research articles and academic books that result from research supported by UKRI.

The UKRI Open Access Review is an opportunity to align policies across UKRI’s councils, including the seven Research Councils, Research England and Innovate UK. UKRI is working with the UK Higher Education Funding Bodies1, to help inform the open access policy for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) exercise after REF 2021, see the Research England website for further information.


UKRI will review and develop its open access policies to:

  • enhance the research, societal and economic benefits that can be derived from UKRI-funded research through improving access to research outputs
  • deliver sustainable support for open access and better value for money
  • ensure policy is joined up across UKRI constituent bodies and that it is clear, unambiguous and as easy as possible to comply with
  • encourage the development of new models of open access publishing
  • support the adoption of open access through collaboration and alignment with national and international partners.

UKRI Open Access Review Consultation

This consultation is now closed and responses are being analysed. The analysis will inform the Review and the development of the updated policy. 
UKRI sought  views on its proposed open access policy and related considerations via a consultation, between  13 February 2020 and 29 May 2020. Responses  were invited from inside and outside the UK, from any organisation, group or individual with an interest in research and innovation. For further information see the UKRI Open Access Review consultation (PDF, 977KB) document.

Information event

UKRI held an information event about the consultation on 27 February 2020 at the British Library in London. This event was recorded and the video is available below and here.

Presenters included UKRI Executive Chair Champions for Open Access, Professor Sir Duncan Wingham, Executive Chair of NERC and David Sweeney, Executive Chair of Research England. The event took attendees through UKRI’s proposed Open Access policy and provided an opportunity for attendees to ask questions.

UKRI OA Review timeline – phases and key activities

    Phase one: Establish the Review and initial stakeholder engagement (October 2018 - January 2019)

    • Establish resources and governance
    • Establish the objectives and scope of the review
    • Initial stakeholder meetings with organisations and experts from university, research and publishing sectors to gather views on current open access policy and its effectiveness, understand what issues need to be considered, and to identify how we might work together to deliver an effective policy.

    Phase two: Evidence, analysis and development of policy options (January 2019 - August 2019)

    • Considering existing evidence, including external evidence and recommendations such as Professor Adam Tickell’s independent advice to the Government and outputs of the Universities UK Open Access Coordination Group and its working groups, for example.
    • Consult with experts and bring together a cross section of stakeholders to topic focused workshops to explore specific policy questions, for example on copyright and licensing, metadata, and monographs.
    • Engage researchers in a consultation meeting to understand issues and viewpoints.


    Phase three: Policy consultation, further evidence gathering and analysis (September 2019 – present)

    • Consultation on draft policy
    • Analysis of consultation responses
    • In parallel with the consultation, undertaking further evidence gathering and analysis on the economic, social and cultural impact of open access, as well as open access in the context of lower- and middle-income countries and Official Development Assistance (ODA)-funded research.

    Phase four: Finalisation and publication of UKRI Open Access Policy

    • UKRI originally intended to announce its open access policy in 2020, following the conclusion of the review. However, with changing circumstances related to COVID-19 this is likely to be later. We continue to review the situation and will communicate a clear timetable once this is more certain. 
    • The policy will come into force at a later date following the announcement of the policy.


    The Review is considering UKRI policy and is therefore overseen by representatives across UKRI. However, to ensure a best practice approach it is being taken forward in a consultative way and within the framework of Government policy.

    The Review reports into the UKRI Executive Committee and UKRI Board.

    UKRI is working closely with the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) who have an interest in open research and open access. The Review also reports into the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation via BEIS.

    The Review is overseen by a steering group, chaired by UKRI Open Access Executive Chair champions Duncan Wingham and David Sweeney. The Steering Group comprises senior UKRI representatives from across UKRI (including councils’ council representatives) and the UK Funding Bodies, and BEIS. Wellcome is an observer.

    Members of the Steering Group are:

    • Alison Robinson – UKRI, representing NERC
    • Chris Wickham - University of Oxford, representing AHRC
    • Geraldine Clement-Stoneham – UKRI, representing BBSRC and MRC
    • Isabelle Baraffe - University of Exeter, representing STFC
    • Karen Salt – UKRI, representing UKRI Strategy
    • Nick Jennings - Imperial College London, representing EPSRC
    • Paul Drabwell – BEIS
    • Paul Nightingale – UKRI, representing ESRC
    • Steven Hill – UKRI, representing Research England
    • Stuart Fancey - Scottish Funding Council, representing UK Higher Education Funding Bodies


    For general queries about UKRI’s work on open access, including the UKRI open access review please contact the open research team at openresearch@ukri.org

    1 Research England, the Scottish Funding Council, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales and the Department for the Economy Northern Ireland