Open research

Open research, also widely referred to as open science, relates to how research is performed and how knowledge is shared based on the principle that research should be as open as possible. It also enables research to take advantage of digital technology.

Transparency, openness, verification and reproducibility are important features of research and innovation. Open research helps to support and uphold these features across the whole lifecycle of research – improving public value, research integrity, re-use and innovation.

Open research also helps to support collaboration within and across disciplines. It is integral to a healthy research culture and environment.

All of this is underpinned by open research policies, practices and procedures that support those undertaking research. They raise awareness of expected standards and behaviours and promote wider systems changes for the benefit of the whole community.

The role of UKRI

Open research is integral to UKRI’s mission to deliver economic and social benefit. Accessible, transparent, reproducible and cooperative research:

  • underpins quality and efficiency in the research process
  • ensures research outputs are readily shared.

Our ambition is to lead improvements through policy, practice and technological innovations to achieve an open research system that operates internationally.

To do this we will:

  • support the adoption of open research through collaboration and alignment with national and international partners
  • support the transition towards an open and transparent research system and address key challenges – by developing policy, rewards and incentives to achieve open research and the necessary digital research infrastructure
  • ensure open access and open research data – two key aspects of open research – are core priorities.

Our main activities

UKRI open access review

Open access aims to make published outputs of research widely and freely accessible under conditions that allow maximum reuse.

We are reviewing and developing our policy on open access, including community consultation on a proposed policy. You can find:

You should follow the RCUK policy on open access and REF 2021 open access policy until further notice. No changes will be made to the REF 2021 open access policy.

Innovate UK supports the principle of open access for any project that is required to publish outcomes as a route to dissemination. For more information, see the guidance for academics applying via the Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S).

Plan S

Working internationally is important in achieving open access.

UKRI has joined cOAlition S, along with a number of other national research funders and foundations, with the support of the European Commission. The coalition aims to help provide full and immediate open access to research publications.

Other activities

Other activities we are supporting include:

It is also a priority to develop UKRI strategy and actions to achieve open research data that is ‘findable’, accessible, interoperable and re-useable (the FAIR Data Principles).

Key resources

You can find more information about:

Get in touch

Contact us with questions about UKRI’s work on open access, including the UKRI open access review:


Find guidance on the REF 2021 open access policy on the REF2021 website.

For queries specifically about the existing RCUK open access policy contact:


Contact cOAlition S about the coalition and Plan S:


Last updated: 23 February 2021

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