Shaping our open access policy

UK Research and Innovation (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.

For UKRI’s open access requirements and supporting guidance, see making your research publications open access.

UKRI has produced an information pack about the new UKRI open access policy. This is for research organisations to use to engage researchers about the new policy.

Implementing our open access policy

We are now working to support the implementation of our open access policy. As part of this, we are committed to working collaboratively to support the policy in practice, with:

  • research performing organisations
  • researchers
  • publishers
  • other relevant stakeholders.

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

Most of the funding will be to research organisations to support open access research articles. There will also 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.

How funding is being provided

For research article funding, we will continue to fund through a block grant mechanism to research organisations. Updated detail on eligible block grant costs and reporting is provided below. Further terms and conditions will be issued to research organisations in their grant offer letters.

Eligible research organisations received notification of their block grant allocations in March 2022 and grants will start from 1 April 2022.

Allocations have been based on the same principle as the algorithm for previous block grants that supported the RCUK open access policy, that is, research volume. We have also lowered the threshold for receiving the block grant to £5,000.

For monographs, book chapters and edited collections, funding will be a centralised fund held by UKRI that organisations will apply for. Further information on funding for monographs will be published later in 2022.

Eligible costs for the new open access block grant for research articles

The open access block grant, allocated to support the research articles policy from 1 April 2022, can be used to cover costs that enable research organisations to meet the aims of our open access policy. Research organisations can use the funding for a wide variety of activities that enable them to comply with the policy.

Examples of eligible costs include:

  • article processing charges (APCs) and charges through other types of funding models (for example, membership fees) that support publication in fully open access journals and platforms
  • publish elements of Jisc-approved transitional agreements
  • open access fees in journals approved by Jisc as meeting the research sectors requirements for transition to open access
  • costs associated with open access through ‘route two’ of the policy. For example, making the author’s accepted manuscript (or version of record, where the publisher permits) available in an institutional or subject repository at the time of final publication, or relevant repository provision
  • open access costs associated with articles in scope of and compliant with the RCUK policy. For example, submitted for publication before 1 April 2022
  • staff costs associated with meeting the aims of the policy. For example, staff supporting researchers, repository management or any associated administration.

There are no limits set on the amount of expenditure from the open access block grant for any relevant activities that support the policy. In line with our usual approach, research organisations will need to ensure the funding is auditable.

The block grant does not cover:

  • the cost of hybrid open access publishing in subscription journals, unless part of Jisc-approved transitional agreements or in journals approved by Jisc as meeting the research sectors requirements for transition to open access. See guidance on finding eligible publication venues
  • subscription costs for read access through journals
  • other non-open access charges associated with publication, including page and colour charges, and non-open access publication charges and fees
  • open access fees associated with monographs, book chapters and edited collections. UKRI will be making dedicated funding available once the monographs policy is live in 2024, and before then it is permissible to include these costs in grant applications.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

Organisations are expected to ensure that equality, diversity and inclusion is considered and supported when allocating funds from the open access block grant.

Reporting on the open access block grant

For the new UKRI open access policy from 1 April 2022, UKRI will no longer require organisations to submit the annual open access compliance returns form. This included information on block grant spend.

However, please note that the requirement to submit this form for the current RCUK open access policy will remain in place until the close of that policy and the end of the financial year 2021 to 2022.

Under the new policy, to seek assurance that the block grant has been spent in line with eligible costs, we will ask organisations to provide details about their spend through the standard grant reporting processes (for example, financial expenditure statements and through funding assurance processes). We are developing the details of the funding assurance process and will liaise with research organisations to inform this.

There will be monitoring and evaluation of the new policy, and wherever possible, we intend to use existing data sources to minimise burden. Monitoring and evaluation will enable us to assess progress towards open access and compliance with the policy, as well as the effectiveness of the policy.

UKRI will share further information on this in early 2022. It is our intention to further develop the detail of this approach with input from stakeholders in the research and publishing sectors.

Read the supplementary FAQs on monitoring and compliance for the policy.

Checking open access publishing options that enable compliance with the policy

Authors should check with publishers to see if a journal or publishing platform offers a compliant route to the policy.

Working together with Jisc and cOAliton S, we are providing the Journal Checker Tool (JCT). Authors and their organisations can use the JCT to check whether their preferred journal supports compliance with the policy and whether publishing in it is eligible for UKRI funds. We will continue to refine and improve the JCT in response to feedback.

The lists of eligible transformative journals and of transitional agreements are also available via the Jisc website:

Read the supplementary FAQs on routes to compliance.

Metadata and technical guidance

In our policy, some metadata and technical requirements for research articles are set out, however, further information is required to aid implementation. When we announced the policy, we made a commitment to publish an update in October 2021.

UKRI has commissioned an independent analysis of the metadata landscape, which shows that currently it does not fully support implementation of the requirements set out in the open access policy.

We are using the findings of this analysis to help us set reasonable expectations for meeting the metadata and technical requirements, as well as monitoring progress. The analysis is informing what actions UKRI and other stakeholders can take to improve the metadata landscape, therefore further supporting the transition to open access. We will provide information on our approach in July 2022.

Read the supplementary FAQs on monitoring and compliance.

Policy exceptions

No-derivatives licence exception for research articles

The UKRI open access policy requires all in scope research articles to be published under a CC BY licence. A creative commons no-derivatives licence (CC BY-ND) may be permitted by exception. The form and guidance for applying for this exception is now available.

Exceptions for monographs

The policy for monographs includes a range of exceptions, for example around the use of third-party materials. Further work is required to aid implementation. We will develop our approach for managing these exceptions, working collaboratively with stakeholders, and provide an update in the second quarter of 2022.

Supporting research organisations and publishers

UKRI has funded Jisc to undertake activities to support the implementation of the policy. These include:

  • scaling up sustainable, affordable open access agreements to provide UKRI-funded researchers and their publishers, with opportunity to access compliant routes to publish
  • gathering and analysing data to monitor and evaluate the performance of transitional arrangements to enable Jisc members, funders and publishers. This is to understand the progress and impact of these arrangements in the context of the UK’s ambition to achieve 100% open access
  • working with a range of stakeholders, including publishers and research organisations, to:
    • develop an understanding of the challenges around open access
    • share and develop best practice
    • deliver support
  • preparing and equipping research organisations with tools, guidance and publishing options in readiness for the commencement of the open access monographs policy.

Communications and engagement

Since announcing our policy, we held a series of discussions with stakeholder groups to understand:

  • their perspectives on implementation
  • practical considerations
  • how we can work together to make the policy a success.

These conversations have been valuable in developing our approach.

It is key to:

  • work with stakeholders
  • co-design open access activities
  • share information
  • partner on implementation of the policy.

We continue to engage with stakeholders to work through some of the more detailed practicalities of policy implementation, and we are establishing appropriate groups or working through established forums to facilitate this.

As part of this, we are working collaboratively to deliver advice, guidance and other resources and support for implementation of the UKRI policy, as well as open access more generally. We are doing this through understanding the challenges and sharing and developing good practice. Examples include our information pack for research organisations, and a licensing and copyright guide we are developing with Jisc.

Whilst UKRI is directly delivering some of these resources and support, we anticipate that for some topics, it will be more appropriate for others to take the lead, and we are working in partnership to do this.

A priority for successful implementation of the open access policy is to have effective engagement with researchers, to ensure they are prepared for policy changes. Our approach is to work with research organisations and sector bodies to develop resources that research organisations can use to engage researchers in a way which is appropriate for their institutional context.

Over the longer term, UKRI wants to continue engaging and working closely with the sector to support the successful implementation of the policy and wider adoption of open access. We are establishing an external stakeholder forum for this purpose, which we expect will commence in the second quarter of 2022.

Information and good practice events

UKRI, in partnership with Association of Research Managers and Administrators, Jisc, Society of College, National and University Libraries and Research Libraries UK, held information and good practice sharing events for research organisations. UKRI will publish a summary report from the event shortly. See the outputs from these events:

How we decided on 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 through 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

Email: openresearch@ukri.org

Last updated: 24 March 2022

This is the integrated website of the seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK.

Let us know if you have feedback or would like to help us test new developments.

Last updated: 11 April 2022

This is the integrated website of the seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK.
Let us know if you have feedback or would like to help us test new developments.