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Update on UKRI Open Access Review


As part of the ongoing Open Access Review, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) will welcome input from across the sector later this year through a public consultation.

Open Access aims to make the findings of publicly-funded research freely available online as soon as possible, in ways that will maximise re-use. This is central to UKRI’s ambitions for research and innovation in the UK, as sharing new knowledge has benefits for researchers, the wider higher education sector, businesses and others.

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.

The Open Access Review is being undertaken in four phases of work, which started in Autumn 2018 and will run to Spring 2020.

Throughout the Review UKRI will be engaging with a range of relevant stakeholders, and a public consultation on the draft UKRI policy will now take place later this year to allow further time for input from across the sector on the draft policy. The review is expected to report in March and 2020 and UKRI expects the revised policy to apply during 2020.

Further information is available on the UKRI Open Access Review site.

The REF is jointly governed by the four UK higher education funding bodies*, and although the REF Open Access policy is within scope of the UKRI review, the four UK funding bodies will make final decisions on the future policy for REF. 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 the first quarter of 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.

Further information is available on the Research England website.

* The four UK funding bodies are: Research England (part of UKRI); Scottish Funding Council; Higher Education Funding Council for Wales; The Department for the Economy (Northern Ireland).

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