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Survey on open access policies

combined logos of funders - hefce jisc rcuk wellcome

HEFCE, Jisc, the Wellcome Trust and Research Councils UK (RCUK) are working in partnership to enhance their understanding of how the higher education sector is meeting funders' open access policies.

To do so, an online survey will be sent to UK higher education institutions (HEIs) in late summer 2017.

The findings will be reported in the autumn.

Survey aims

The survey will gather a sector-wide understanding on the delivery of funders’ open access policies. It will collect data which will inform policy implementation. 

The survey will also gather information about the tools the sector is using to meet the requirements of open access policies, which may identify systems gaps, and highlight areas for development.

Specifically, the survey will seek to understand:

  • to what extent HEIs are meeting the funder requirements 
  • tools used by the sector
  • repository use
  • staff costs associated with open access
  • repository metadata and licences.

The survey is intended to complement, and not duplicate or replace, existing open access reporting processes. 

Institutions in receipt of Charity Open Access Fund or RCUK block grants will still be required to submit their annual returns.

Data collected via this survey will not be used in the REF2021 assessment.

Survey development

We commissioned Research Consulting to develop an appropriate, realistic survey using quantitative assessment methodology.

Research Consulting has been working with the project sponsors (HEFCE, Jisc, RCUK and Wellcome) to develop a draft survey, which will shortly be piloted with a representative sample of institutions.

Feedback from the pilot will inform the final survey.

The survey should not be unduly burdensome for the institutions to complete and is intended to draw upon existing mechanisms and data where possible.

When will the survey be sent to institutions?

Late in the summer of 2017, a link to the online survey tool will be sent to all UK institutions, either by HEFCE or devolved funding body.

We expect that institutions will have four weeks to complete the survey, and we encourage as many institutions to respond as possible. We expect only one return per institution.

What will the data be used for?

HEFCE, Jisc, Wellcome and RCUK will analyse the responses and publish a report of the high level findings in autumn 2017.

The report will be not publish institutional level data. The data will be used to enhance our understanding of the sector at this time. It will not inform funding allocations by any of the partners.

The report will provide an overview of how the sector is managing the delivery of open access in relation to funder policies. Specifically it will provide REF open access policy benchmark data.

The data will be used by each individual partner to consider policy implementation and systems development.

How can institutions prepare for this now?

An invitation will be sent to the pro vice-chancellor of research, or equivalent, at each UK higher education institution.

Institutions can prepare by pinpointing the appropriate member of staff to complete the survey, saving the institution time when the survey is launched.

The detail above provides an indication of the information we will be collecting in the survey, but this will be further developed during the pilot. This webpage will be updated throughout the survey development.


We are expecting to deliver a webinar at the survey launch (late in the summer of 2017).

This will guide institutions through the survey and will give HEIs the opportunity to ask questions.

For further information please contact or call 0117 931 7147.

Page last updated 21 June 2017