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HEFCE closed at the end of March 2018. The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.

Many of HEFCE's functions will be continued by the Office for Students, the new regulator of higher education in England, and Research England, the new council within UK Research and Innovation.

The HEFCE domain - - will continue to function until September 2018. At this point we will close the site entirely and all its information will only be available from the National Web Archive.


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The policy describes new eligibility requirements for outputs submitted to the post-2014 REF. These requirements apply to all journal articles and conference proceedings accepted for publication after 1 April 2016. They do not apply to monographs, other long-form publications, creative or non-text outputs, or data.

The requirements state that peer-reviewed manuscripts must be deposited in an institutional or subject repository on acceptance for publication. The title and author of these deposits, and other descriptive information, [Note 1] must be discoverable straight away by anyone with a search engine. The manuscripts must then be accessible for anyone to read and download once any embargo period has elapsed.

There are limited exceptions to the policy, where depositing and arranging access to the manuscript is not achievable.

This policy was developed following an extensive two-stage consultation during 2013, to which we received over 460 written responses.

David Sweeney, HEFCE’s Director for Research, Innovation and Skills, said:

‘The UK is leading the way to open access publication of its research findings, following strong and welcome commitment to this agenda by the UK government. The funding bodies believe that our policy for the next REF will increase substantially the amount of scholarly material that is made available in an open-access form. This will in turn increase the efficiency of the research process by allowing scholars to access more material that is relevant to them, and increase the impact of research findings on the economy and wider society. Linking open access to the REF will also help to drive visibility and awareness of open access options within our universities and colleges, which is vital to securing the long-term sustainability of research dissemination.

Ultimately, the success of this policy, and others like it, will depend on the continued efforts of all stakeholders, including funders, institutions, researchers and publishers, to engage constructively in pursuit of a common goal: wider, faster and freer access to the findings of research. The funding bodies will continue to play our part in that debate as this policy beds in over the coming months and years.’

Open access in the post-2014 Research Excellence Framework (Circular letter 07/2014)


  1. The output must be presented in a way that allows it to be discovered by readers and by automated tools such as search engines. The discovery requirements should typically be fulfilled through the storage and open presentation of a bibliographic or metadata record in the repository.
  2. In partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council, HEFCE is also investigating monographs in the context of open access. Geoffrey Crossick, Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, is leading this work. Further information on this project is available.
  3. Supported by HEFCE, the British Academy is conducting research into the impact of open access on the humanities and social sciences. The results of this work have informed the funding bodies’ policy for open access, and will be published shortly. Further information on this work is available.