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Open Access Review

The UKRI Open Access Review concerns open access to formal scholarly research articles, peer reviewed conference proceedings and monographs. It is an opportunity to align policies across UKRI’s councils, with the UK Funding Bodies on future Research Excellence Framework (REF) policy, and to consider how Innovate UK should be included. The current Research Councils UK (RCUK) policy continues to apply over the period of the review. There will be no change to the REF 2021 open access policy.


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.

Public consultation

UKRI will be launching a 9-week public consultation on a draft policy. The review is expected to report in 2020.

Following the announcement of the General Election, the consultation will now be launched in 2020. Further information will be provided in due course.

Stakeholder engagement

The following key activities have been completed:

  • Established governance for 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.
  • UKRI has considered external evidence and recommendations, including 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.
  • UKRI has consulted with experts and brought together a cross section of stakeholders to topic focused workshops to explore specific policy questions, for example on copyright and licensing, metadata, and monographs.
  • The Review has engaged researchers in a consultation meeting to understand issues and viewpoints.


The Review is considering UKRI policy and is therefore overseen within UKRI. However, to ensure a best practice approach it is being taken forward in a consultative way and within the framework of Government policy. 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 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. The Wellcome Trust is an observer. Members of the Steering Group (and affiliation) are:

  • Alex Marsh - UKRI
  • Alison Robinson - UKRI
  • Chris Wickham - University of Oxford
  • Geraldine Clement-Stoneham - UKRI
  • Isabelle Baraffe - University of Exeter
  • Nick Jennings - Imperial College London
  • Paul Drabwell - BEIS
  • Paul Nightingale - UKRI
  • Stephen Hill - UKRI
  • Stuart Fancey - Scottish Funding Council

Open access policy for the REF after next

There are two policies within the scope of the UKRI OA Review - the Research Council UK (RCUK) Policy on Open Access and the Research Excellence Framework (REF) OA policy. The REF policy is governed and jointly owned by the four UK Funding Bodies.

There are two policies within the scope of the UKRI OA Review - the Research Council UK (RCUK) Policy on Open Access (OA) and the Research Excellence Framework (REF) OA policy. The REF policy is governed and jointly owned by the four UK Funding Bodies.

The four Funding Bodies are committed to supporting successful approaches to open access publishing through the REF. Working alongside colleagues within UKRI, the UK funding bodies will also carry out a review of the REF open access policy. A REF OA working group has been established to take this work forward.

The OA policy for the REF after next will build upon the evidence from UKRI OA consultation, with a view to carry out a separate, REF-specific consultation in 2020. The OA policy for the REF after next will be communicated following an analysis of the responses to the consultation. It is the intention to align as closely as possible to the UKRI OA policy, whilst taking into account the differences for a policy associated with grant funded research and research that is submitted to a UK-wide research assessment exercise.

We recognise that the four funding bodies will need to give due notice to the sector of any changes to its OA policy for the REF after next. Therefore, we anticipate that any changes to the REF OA policy will not come into effect on 1 January 2021 (i.e. the beginning of the next REF exercise). We ask the sector to work on the basis of continuation of existing REF 2021 policy at this stage. Notice given to the sector will be appropriate to, and reflective of, the requirements of policy implementation.

The OA policy for outputs submitted to the REF 2021 exercise will not change. In-scope journal articles and conference proceedings are required to comply with the current REF 2021 OA policy in order to be considered eligible for submission to REF 2021. Monographs are not in scope for the REF 2021 OA policy.

Further information is available on the Research England website.

Plan S

Working internationally is important to help achieve open access. UKRI has joined cOAlition S, along with a number of national research funders and foundations, and with support of the European Commission and the European Research Council (ERC). The coalition aims to help make full and immediate Open Access to research publications a reality. The initiative is built around Plan S, which consists of one target and 10 principles.

The main Plan S target states: “After 1 January 2020, the necessary measures to fulfil its main principle: “By 2020 scientific publications that result from research funded by public grants provided by participating national and European research councils and funding bodies, must be published in compliant Open Access Journals or on compliant Open Access Platforms”.

The Plan S principles broadly align with current Open Access policies and will be considered as part of the UKRI Open Access Review. Final decisions on UKRI policies will be made via the UKRI Open Access Review.

Enquiries relating to cOAlition S should be directed to Science Europe.


Enquiries about the UKRI open access review should be sent to UKRI open research.