Shaping our open access policy

UKRI announced its new open access policy in August 2021. The UKRI Open Access Policy applies to:

  • peer-reviewed research articles submitted for publication from 1 April 2022
  • monographs, book chapters and edited collections published from 1 January 2024.

Here you will find information on:

  • activities we will be undertaking to support the implementation of our new policy
  • some background on the activities that informed the policy, including an explanation of our policy decisions.

Implementing our open access policy

Our new open access policy was announced in August 2021 and we are now starting work to support its implementation. It will be critical to work with research performing organisations, researchers, publishers and other relevant stakeholders in order to support the policy in practice and we are committed to doing that.

Our policy implementation requires further planning and we are aware there is a need for detail and guidance on some areas, for example:

  • the terms and conditions for open access funding
  • how open access funding will be allocated and accessed
  • how reporting will work and how policy progress will be assessed
  • how will any exceptions to the policy be managed.

Some supporting actions have already been agreed that will help to realise the policy, in particular, support for the uptake of publisher transitional agreements and other transitional arrangements will be provided via Jisc.

We’ve set out some of the key commitments and dates for further implementation milestones. This will be updated as work and planning progresses.

Open access funding

UKRI is providing up to £46.7 million per year to support the implementation of the policy. This substantially increased funding is in recognition that this is required to meet the new policy intent, as well as the extension of the policy to monographs.

Whilst most of the funding will be to research organisations to support open access research articles, there will be dedicated funding for supporting actions including to Jisc in support of sector open access negotiations, with guidance and infrastructure to aid uptake of UKRI compliant open access options. The funding also includes a ring-fenced amount of approximately £3.5 million annually to support research organisations in implementing open access monographs, from 2024.

Research articles and monographs

For funding for research articles, we will continue to fund via a block grant mechanism to research organisations.

For monographs, funding will be a centralised fund held by UKRI that organisations will apply for.

In terms of who will be eligible to receive open access funding, the same principle as is the case currently will apply, in that organisations eligible to apply for research funding from UKRI will be eligible to receive open access funding.

A wide range of eligible costs will be allowed, however, there will be some specific exclusions. One exclusion relates to funding for research articles, where the cost of hybrid open access publishing in subscription journals will not be eligible unless part of a Jisc-approved transitional arrangement.

There are still some aspects we need to consider further, and we will clarify fully the terms and conditions of funding for research articles by November 2021. The terms and conditions for funding for monographs will be made available in 2022.

Block grant funding for research articles: allocations to research organisations

We will provide further details on the how these will be calculated and notify research organisations their block grant allocation for 2022-2023 by no later than December 2021.

Whilst the exact algorithm is still being developed, it will be based on the same principle as the algorithm for the block grant that supports the current RCUK policy that is, research volume.

Monitoring and evaluation

Monitoring and evaluation is crucial to delivering UKRI’s ambition for open access because it provides an evidence base to support effective decision making and is our means of ensuring the policy delivers on its aims.

We will monitor the policy continuously from its implementation, and there will be formal review points, the first of which will be within two years of the policy start date for both articles and monographs. Our approach will be to learn and build our evidence base, and review points will not necessarily mean a change in direction.

Working with the sector we will develop a monitoring and evaluation framework to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the policy, along with a timetable, and will give further details by November 2021. A key focus will be to use automated approaches and existing data sources.

In terms of what research organisations must report to us, generally the quality and comparability of existing data sources has improved and so we will reduce our requirements.

We will no longer seek reporting on the compliance of individual research articles, and we intend to move reporting on open access funding to standard grant reporting with no additional requirements. Usual funding assurance processes will also apply for open access funding.

Full details on reporting requirements for articles will be provided by December 2021. For monographs these will be made available in 2022.

As part of our monitoring and evaluation framework we may seek to understand the level of compliance at an institutional level, in order to monitor compliance of research organisations with the policy.

We will also support research organisations to share good practice in policy implementation, as well as open access more generally, and provide further details about how we will do this by November 2021.

Metadata guidance

In our policy some metadata requirements for research articles are set out, further information is required to aid implementation.

In October 2021 we will publish further information on how to meet the metadata requirements that are set out in the policy for research articles.

Policy exceptions

There is a case-by-case exception for research articles where a no-derivatives (ND) license may be allowed

The policy for monographs includes a range of exceptions, for example around the use of third-party materials.

In October 2021 we will publish guidance and the process for managing the research article ND exception.

In 2022 we will publish guidance and the processes to support the management of the exceptions set out in our monographs policy.

Open access options and transitional agreements

We’re supporting the scaling up of transitional open access agreements and other arrangements for a range of publishers and research performing organisations.

In order to support the transition to open access in a sustainable way, and to seek options to be available to a wide range of publishers, researchers and research organisations, we are providing a grant to Jisc. This will enable them to work with the research sector and other stakeholders to provide compliant open access agreements and options, and to provide guidance and tools alongside this.

Further details on this set of activities will be published in September 2021.

Communications and engagement

Working with stakeholders, co-designing open access activities, sharing information and partnering on implementation of the policy is key.

We will continue to engage with stakeholders and immediately begin to hold discussions about implementation of the policy. We envisage that this will include working to provide the right support and advice and guidance to researchers, for example on applying licenses, or to collaborate on monitoring and best practice in open access.

We will publish further details as part of an updated implementation plan in October 2021.

How we decided our open access policy

The UKRI Open Access Policy was determined by the UKRI Open Access Review, which took place from autumn 2018 to summer 2021.

To understand the changes to our policy and how decisions were made see UKRI Open Access Policy: explanation of policy changes.

UKRI Open Access Review

The UKRI Open Access Review sought to review UKRI’s existing open access policies and recommend an updated single open access policy for UKRI and all its councils.

The review included extensive engagement with stakeholders, including via meetings and public consultation. UKRI wishes to thank all stakeholders who contributed to the review.

Key activities undertaken by the review included:

The review was overseen by UKRI Executive Champions for Open Research, Professor Sir Duncan Wingham and David Sweeney. A steering group included senior representation from across UKRI and representation from the UK higher education funding bodies. The Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Wellcome were observers.

The review reported to UKRI’s Board and Executive Committee and the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation.

Ask about the new UKRI Open Access Policy and UKRI Open Access Review


Last updated: 14 October 2021

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