Open access in the Research Excellence Framework: Extension of flexibility


The four UK higher education funding bodies have decided to extend the initial flexibility in the Open Access (OA) policy for a further year, recognising the timetable for the next REF with results in 2021. The requirement that outputs be deposited on acceptance will commence after Sunday 1 April 2018, subject to a review of the readiness of systems within the sector in autumn 2017.

In the announcement yesterday, 15 November (SFC/AN/14/2016), Stuart Fancey, Scottish Funding Council Director of Research and Innovation wrote:

“We are pleased with the progress so far, but we recognise the challenges involved in driving the policy centrally. As previously announced, for the first year of the policy (from 1 April 2016 to 1 April 2017), we are providing a degree of flexibility to allow time for higher education institutions (HEIs), Jisc and others to develop tools to allow information about publications to flow better between researchers and administrators. During that period of flexibility, HEIs may deposit outputs in their repositories within three months of publication, rather than of acceptance, which provides a longer window for securing author engagement. Many HEIs have nonetheless continued to implement our ‘deposit on acceptance’ policy and are seeing academic engagement increase significantly, and excellent progress has been made to build new relationships between HEIs and publishers in pursuit of the UK’s OA goals.

In Open access in the next Research Excellence Framework: policy adjustments and qualifications (HEFCE Circular letter 20/2015,,202015/), institutions were advised that the funding bodies would work with them in autumn 2016 to review the developing arrangements, and to determine whether remaining technical gaps had been sufficiently addressed to end the flexibility in April 2017. In the intervening period, the Minister for Universities and Science asked Lord Stern to review the REF, and to allow time for this, the timetable has been realigned so that results of the next REF would be announced in December 2021. The four higher education funding bodies will now work together to develop proposals on how to implement Lord Stern’s recommendations in the next REF. We expect to launch a consultation with the sector on these proposals in November 2016 and we are conscious that our original plan to review progress on OA in autumn 2016 may collide unhelpfully with the consultation on the REF. We therefore want to allow HEIs longer to improve systems and fine-tune approaches. The REF 2021 timeframe will provide HEIs with a further year to embed open access activities and to work with us to develop the shape of the next REF.

In light of the above, we are therefore making the following adjustments to our OA policy:

  • The policy continues to require that, to be eligible for submission to the REF, outputs must be deposited within three months of acceptance for publication, but we now plan that this requirement will apply to outputs accepted after Sunday 1 April 2018. We will review the readiness of systems with the sector in autumn 2017.
  • Outputs accepted between 1 April 2016 and 1 April 2018 must be deposited within three months of publication.”

SFC colour logo

Increase and evidence the impact of your published work

KUDOS webinar

Kudos Educational Researcher Webinar – Wednesday 31st August 2016

Co-hosted with Kudos, Altmetric, ORCID and Thomson Reuters, this session will give you hints and tips on how to promote your work effectively, measure current reach and how to further increase the impact of your work (reach, altmetrics and citations) – all in one place.

Find out more and register here –

Any questions, please do email who will happily help.


The Future of REF – Stern Report Published

The Stern Review was published last week (full report here).  The review discusses the future of the Research Excellence Framework (REF).  How well we do in REF determines how much block funding the University gets for research. Key recommendations include a new proposal that publications are not portable, and are to be submitted by the organisation in which they were created, a much larger number of staff are to be submitted, and peer review remains the key metric.

Ensuring integrity and rigour in UK research: best practice, open data and the impact of the REF

Westminster HE Forum

Westminster Higher Education Forum are hosting this seminar in central London on 7 July 2016 where Dr Steven Hill, Head of Research Policy at HEFCE will be the keynote speaker.

Delegates at this seminar will consider strategies for protecting integrity and rigour of UK research – and supporting the quality of the UK research base. It takes place with these issues an increasing priority for policymakers, higher education institutions and the wider research sector – in anticipation of Lord Stern’s review into university research funding, which is considering approaches to the evaluation of UK higher education research performance and options for future iterations of the Research Excellence Framework (REF).

It also comes with ongoing discussion about the effects of increasing competition and the growing use of metrics on research practice in higher education institutions.

Overall, areas for discussion include:

  • Competition and rigour – examining the tensions between an increasingly competitive research environment and improving the rigour of research processes within universities;
  • Research environment – the impact of including assessment of an institution’s research environment within the REF’s metrics and next steps for addressing the findings;
  • Ensuring best practice – strategies for combating issues such as plagiarism and the misleading representation of results;
  • Self-regulation – the impact of the Concordat to Support Research Integrity – introduced in 2012 – and the potential for further implementation;
  • Research funding – options for addressing concerns around the integrity of corporate sponsored research;
  • Ethics – supporting ethical research practices and the role of university ethics boards; and
  • Open data – opportunities, expansion and options for improving the reproducibility of research findings.

See the latest agenda and book a place here.

UK Funding Councils post-2014 Open Access Policy

JISC Open Access HEFCE Policy

Today is the day – 1 April 2016 – that this policy has finally come into effect. Mafalda Picarra from Jisc has written a timely blog reminder of what it all means. The University Library is ready to support your work, just copy your acceptance email from the publisher with the manuscript to


ORCID uptake – Fantastic

orchid logoWe are more than delighted to report that 98% of research students in Faculty of Design and Tech and Faculty of Health and Social Care are signed up!

100% records go to the School of Engineering, Scott Sutherland,  School of Applied Social Science and School of Health Science.

As it becomes clearer that ORCID will be the most likely route for the next REF this will stand us in good stead for the future.

HEFCE Blog – Can you prove the impact of your research?

HEFCE blog

Elizabeth Garcha from the University of Sheffield writes today on the HEFCE Blog about evidence for impact case studies, addressing key questions such as what to collect and when to collect it, each linked to the question of who owns the benefit or change that is a consequence of the research. Read Elizabeth’s post here.

Jisc launches SHERPA REF – a new service to clarify journal compliance with REF


Following on from our Research Matters blog post of yesterday about eligibility of submission of research oututs for the next REF, Hannah DeGroff, Open Access Support Coordinator at Jisc this morning made live a link to a new service that will help researchers and institutions determine whether or not a specific journal is compliant with HEFCE’s policy. Hannah wrote:

“We’re delighted to announce the availability of SHERPA REF, a ‘beta’ web service – funded and endorsed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) – that allows authors and institutions to quickly, accurately and easily check whether a journal in which they wish to publish complies with the open access (OA) policy for the Research Excellence Framework (REF).

The policy requires journal articles and conference proceedings accepted for publication after 1 April 2016 are made OA in order to be eligible for submission to the next REF. Universities need to ensure their submissions are eligible and comply with current policy under the four UK higher education funding bodies: HEFCE, Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, Scottish Funding Council and the Department of employment and learning in Northern Ireland.

By enabling authors to easily check their compliance, SHERPA REF saves time and effort for universities in checking they meet the requirements – estimated to take on average between 30-60 minutes.

For more information on SHERPA REF visit

A full press statement can be found here.”


To be eligible for submission to the post-2014 REF …


Get REF Ready A6 resized

Given that we are in March, the vernal equinox is past and British Summer Time commences this weekend when the clocks go forward, here’s a timely reminder that to be eligible for submission to the post-2014 REF, authors’ final peer-reviewed manuscripts of journals and conference papers accepted after 1 April 2016 must have been deposited in an institutional or subject repository as soon as possible after acceptance for publication.

If your paper is being published forward your acceptance email to as soon as you receive it.

See HEFCE Policy for open access in the post-2014 Research Excellence Framework for more information.