Making your research article open access means that the results of publicly funded research are available:
- to everyone for free
- under conditions that enable them to be re-used and built upon
If you have an award from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) or one of our councils, you must follow our open access requirements when publishing a research article acknowledging our funding. Exact requirements depend on when you first submitted your article for publication.
If you submitted for publication on or after 1 April 2022
You must follow the UKRI open access policy.
This applies to articles that need to acknowledge funding from UKRI or any of its councils. This includes funding from:
- the research councils
- Research England
- Innovate UK
Guidance for authors on following the policy is provided below, under ‘Research articles and the UKRI open access policy: guidance for authors’.
If you submitted for publication before 1 April 2022
You must follow the previous research councils’ policy on open access and supporting guidance.
This policy applies to:
- articles which need to acknowledge research council funding
- some articles resulting from Innovate UK funding as outlined in the guidance for academics applying for Innovate UK funding
Research articles and the UKRI open access policy: guidance for authors
This is a summary of the policy for peer-reviewed research articles acknowledging UKRI funding, and which are submitted for publication from 1 April 2022.
Additional detail is available, including exceptions, in the full UKRI open access policy and supplementary frequently asked questions (FAQs).
Your research organisation will also be able to advise on complying with UKRI’s policy, funding for open access costs and any local policies and guidance.
Make your research article immediately open access
The policy applies to peer-reviewed research articles. This includes reviews and conference papers that are accepted for final publication in either a journal, conference proceeding with an international standards serial number (ISSN), or publishing platform.
You can make your article open access via one of two routes.
- Route one: you can publish the article open access in a journal or publishing platform. This makes the version of record immediately open access via its website with a creative commons attribution (CC BY) licence or other permitted licence.
- Route two: you can publish the article in a subscription journal. You can deposit your author’s accepted manuscript in an institutional or subject repository at the time of final publication with a CC BY or other permitted licence. A publisher embargo period is not permitted.
You can publish in the journal or platform you consider most appropriate for your research, provided UKRI’s open access requirements are met. You should check with publishers to see if a journal or publishing platform offers a compliant route to the policy.
This can include fully open access journals or publishing platforms, or hybrid subscription journals that offer an open access option, and which offer a compliant route.
If publishing through route one
You may be able to access UKRI funding for open access publication costs. You should speak to your research organisation prior to submission to find out what funding is available to you. UKRI provides this funding via a block grant to research organisations. You cannot usually claim research article publications costs from your grant.
To use UKRI funding to pay for open access costs you must ensure that you are publishing in a journal or platform that is eligible to receive UKRI funding. These are:
- fully open access journals
- hybrid journals that are part of an approved transitional open access agreement your research organisation is party to
- hybrid journals that have approved transformative journal status (until 31 December 2024, after which they will not be eligible)
Approved transitional arrangements are those that meet Jisc open access requirements. These are agreed by the UK research sector and help to ensure value for money. If you intend to publish in a hybrid journal that is not part of these arrangements, you will need to find an alternative source of funding to meet the publication costs.
Some research councils require a version of your research article to also be deposited in a repository. This applies even when the publication is available open access. See the subheading ‘Deposit requirements for councils’.
Whether publishing via route one or two, prior to submission, you should check your preferred journal or publishing platform will provide a compliant publishing option and is eligible to receive UKRI open access funds (if you expect to pay for open access).
- use the Journal Checker Tool to check if a journal offers a compliant option and is eligible to receive UKRI open access funds
- speak to your research organisation about publishing options and available funding
- use Jisc’s transitional agreement look-up tool to see if your organisation participates in a transitional agreement
- refer to Jisc’s approved transformative journal list
- check with the publisher if they offer a compliant route
Note that the Journal Checker Tool incorporates the Jisc information.
If publishing through route two
You will need to deposit your author’s accepted manuscript in a repository. Many research organisations have a repository you can use, there are also subject repositories that you can use. Find available repositories using OpenDOAR.
Some research councils require you to use a specific repository. See under the subheading ‘Depositing research publications in a repository’.
At the point of submission, notify your publisher about licensing of your author’s accepted manuscript. See the subheading, ‘Notify your publisher about licensing’.
Use an open licence
The open access version of your article must have a CC BY licence to maximise opportunity for sharing and reuse. You can also use an Open Government Licence when authors need to comply with Crown Copyright.
A CC BY licence is appropriate in most cases, but you can apply for an exception to use a creative commons no-derivatives (CC BY-ND) licence if you think this is needed.
UKRI’s requirements do not apply to third-party materials in an article, these can be included under a more restrictive licence.
Note that your research organisation may also have local copyright and licensing policies and guidance.
Find resources on copyright and licensing in the guidance on open research in our good research resource hub.
Notify your publisher about licensing
If intending to publish open access via a repository (route two), include this statement in the acknowledgement section of your manuscript and any submission cover letter or note:
For the purpose of open access, the authors has applied a creative commons attribution (CC BY) licence (where permitted by UKRI, ‘open government licence’ or ‘creative commons attribution no-derivatives (CC BY-ND) licence’ may be stated instead) to any author accepted manuscript version arising.
This ensures it is clear at the point of submission what licence you will apply to your author’s accepted manuscript.
If a publisher rejects your submission, advises you will need to pay for open access, or changes terms of publication, contact your research organisation for advice.
Options could include asking the publisher to accommodate compliance with your funding requirements, making the article open access via an alternative route, or identifying an alternative journal, for example.
Include a data access statement in your article
You must include a data access statement in your article, even where there is not data associated with the article or the data are inaccessible.
This informs readers where the underlying research materials associated with a paper are available, and how the research materials can be accessed. The statement can include links to the dataset, where applicable and appropriate.
Additional guidance can be found in Annex 1 of the UKRI open access policy and supplementary FAQs.
Some resources about writing data access statements can also be found in the guidance on open research in our good research resource hub.
Deposit requirements for councils
Some councils require research articles to be deposited in specific repositories.
BBSRC and MRC biomedical research
Whether publishing open access via a journal or repository, biomedical research articles that acknowledge funding from the Medical Research Council (MRC) or the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) are required to be archived in Europe PubMed Central. This is in accordance with:
NERC Open Research Archive
NERC Open Research Archive (NORA) is the joint repository of outputs produced by researchers at:
- British Antarctic Survey
- British Geological Survey
- UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
- National Oceanography Centre
Whether publishing open access via a journal or repository, researchers based at these institutions should deposit a copy of their publication in NORA.
You can share your findings early by publishing your manuscript to a preprint server or service before you publish to a formal peer-reviewed publication.
Preprints are not in-scope of the UKRI open access policy. However, to facilitate open research practices, UKRI encourages the use of preprints across the research disciplines that we support.
In cases of national or global emergencies we expect all research findings to be shared as soon as possible.
Some research councils and funding opportunities have specific guidance on preprints:
- MRC’s position on preprints
- BBSRC’s position on preprints
- UKRI’s COVID-19 rapid response opportunities
Ask a question about the open access policy
Check for an existing answer in the UKRI open access policy and supplementary FAQs.