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Policy Guide
Open access research

In brief

'Open access' refers to unrestricted, online access to the published findings of research. In our role as a national funding body for research, we are committed to supporting successful approaches to open-access publishing and increasing public access to research findings.

What is HEFCE's position?

We believe that all research arising from HEFCE funding should be as widely and freely accessible as the available channels for dissemination will allow.

We believe this will:

  • enable the prompt and widespread dissemination of research findings
  • benefit both the efficiency of the research process and economic growth driven by publicly funded research
  • increase public understanding of research.

We have developed an approach to open access as part of the work that we do with the other UK funding bodies to assess the quality of research at UK higher education institutions. It is now a requirement that certain research outputs submitted to any research assessment exercise after 2014 be made as widely accessible as possible.

Open access and research assessment

Following extensive consultation, the four UK higher education funding bodies have introduced an open-access requirement in the post-2014 Research Excellence Framework.

The core of the policy is that journal articles and conference proceedings must be available in an open-access form to be eligible for the post-2014 REF. In practice, this means that these outputs must be uploaded to an institutional or subject repository at the point of acceptance for publication.

See full details of the policy  

More on open access

'Open access' aims to make the findings of academic research available electronically, immediately, without charge and free from most copyright or licensing restrictions. 

Governments and research funders - nationally and internationally - have recently encouraged a move towards open access.

This has developed from a view that the freedom to access and use research outputs has considerable benefits for authors, researchers, funding bodies and the wider higher education sector.

This has led to discussion about how to make this happen and what effect it might have. But the principle of open access has wide support.


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