Catherine Sharp, Head of Open Access Services
Lara Speicher, Head of Publishing, UCL Press
The new UKRI Policy that was announced in August 2020 affects academics who are publishing work that acknowledges funding from one of the seven UK Research Councils (AHRC, BBSRC, ESRC, EPSRC, MRC, NERC, STFC) or Innovate UK. The policy requires open access on publication under the CC BY licence (or, exceptionally, CC BY-ND) for articles and conference papers submitted on or after 1 April 2022. It also requires open access no later than 12 months after publication for monographs, book chapters and edited collections resulting from a grant from one of the UK Research Councils, published on or after 1 January 2024. The UKRI policy will inform the open access policy for the next REF, following the Future Research Assessment Programme.
In this post, we will outline the key policy points and compliant routes to publishing journal articles, conference papers and in-scope books. We also cover how the new policy will be funded. Some details are still awaited, and further information will be added to the Open Access pages as it becomes available.
Journal articles and conference proceedings
The new UKRI policy applies to peer-reviewed research articles (including reviews) and conference proceedings submitted for publication on or after 1 April 2022.
The policy permits two routes to publishing, the first covering fully open access journals and the second subscription journals. Like the Wellcome policy, both routes require immediate open access, on publication, under the CC BY licence. Embargoes on open access are no longer allowed.
UKRI will continue to fund open access, through UCL’s Open Access Team, for papers in fully open access journals and in journals in UCL’s transformative agreements. It will not fund open access for outputs in subscription (hybrid) journals except through transformative agreements.
How do I meet the requirements?
In practice, there are three ways to comply with the new policy:
- Publish in a fully open access journal or platform (see the Directory of Open Access Journals)
- Publish in a subscription (hybrid) journal that is in UCL’s transformative agreements
- Publish in a subscription (hybrid) journal that is not in UCL’s transformative agreements, and make the accepted available in an open access repository, under the CC BY licence, on publication.
In the first two methods, the paper is published open access under the CC BY licence. The publisher version of record is open access on the publisher’s website (Gold open access).
In the third method, the author uploads the final accepted manuscript to RPS, and (if the paper is MRC- or BBSRC-funded) to Europe PubMed Central, to be made open access on publication under the CC BY licence (Green open access).
Most journals require an embargo on Green open access, and do not allow the accepted manuscript to be made open access under CC BY. UKRI has provided the text below, which authors must include in the manuscript’s funding acknowledgements section when they submit, and in any cover letter or note accompanying the submission. This allows authors to use the third route. UCL recommends that from 1 April 2022 all UKRI-funded article submissions include this statement.
For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence* to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising.
* UKRI may exceptionally permit authors to use the Creative Commons Attribution No-derivatives (CC BY-ND) licence. The Open Government Licence is permitted where the article falls under Crown Copyright.
From 1 April 2022, before submitting to a journal authors of UKRI-funded papers must establish which of these methods of complying to compliance applies to their chosen journals before submitting. We expect tools to be available to assist authors with this. You will need to know:
Fully open access journals are listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals. Details of UCL’s transformative agreements, including a list of journals included, and eligibility criteria for each agreement, are on our transformative agreements page. UCL currently has 27 transformative agreements, covering more than 8,000 journals.
Examples of compliance methods
To illustrate how these compliance methods work in practice, below are a few examples of journals from a variety of disciplines, sorted into their current compliance routes for UCL authors.
|Method 1 –
fully open access journals
|Method 2 –
|Method 3 –
Green open access
|BioMed Central journals
|AIP subscription journals
|ACM journals (ACM allows immediate Green open access under CC BY)
|American Nineteenth Century History (Taylor & Francis)
|SPIE journals (SPIE allows immediate open access to the version of record under CC BY)
|Cognition (Elsevier) – UKRI statement required
|British Journal of Cancer (SpringerNature)
|Computers in Biology and Medicine (Elsevier) – UKRI statement required
|BMJ Global Health (BMJ)
|Development and Change (Wiley)
|Journal of Neurosurgery (AANS) – UKRI statement required
|Environment International (Elsevier)
|European Journal of Philosophy (Wiley)
|Journal of Philosophy (Elsevier) – UKRI statement required
|Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry (BMJ)
|Journal of the American Chemical Society (ACS) – UKRI statement required
|Lancet Digital Health (Elsevier)
|Lab on a Chip (RSC)
|Lancet (Elsevier) – UKRI statement required
|Nature Communications (SpringerNature)
|Review of Political Economy (Taylor & Francis)
|Nature Medicine (SpringerNature) – UKRI statement required
|Scientific Reports (SpringerNature)
|Science and Public Policy (OUP)
|Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) – UKRI statement required
|Wellcome Open Research
|Urban Studies (Sage)
|Science (AAAS allows immediate Green open access under CC BY where Plan S funders have adopted rights retention)
Monographs, book chapters and edited collections
Monographs, book chapters and edited collections are now included in the UKRI OA policy for the first time. The policy applies to books published as a result of a grant from one of the UK Research Councils, as listed above, and comes into effect for books published on or after 1 January 2024.
The key policy points are outlined below:
Monographs are defined in the policy as ‘a long-form publication which communicates an original contribution to academic scholarship on one topic or theme and is designed for a primarily academic audience… it may be written by one or more authors’. Detailed definitions of chapters and edited collections are also included in the policy. A trade book (see definitions below in ‘Out of scope long-form publications’) is only in scope of the policy where it is the only output from UKRI-funded research.
Out of scope long-form publications
UKRI’s open access policy does not apply to the following long-form outputs:
- Trade books: The decision of whether a book should be considered a trade book or an academic monograph, is at the discretion of the author and publisher. Trade books are defined in the policy as ‘an academic monograph rooted in original scholarship that has a broad public audience’.
- Scholarly editions. Defined as an edition of another author’s original work or body of works informed by critical evaluation of the sources (such as earlier manuscripts, texts, documents and letters), often with a scholarly introduction and explanatory notes or analysis on the text and/or original author
- Exhibition catalogues
- Scholarly illustrated catalogues
- All types of fictional works and creative writing
UKRI requires the open access version of long-form outputs to be published under a Creative Commons licence. A Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence is preferred to maximise opportunities for sharing and reuse but other Creative Commons licences are permitted. This includes CC BY-NC and CC BY-ND. An Open Government Licence is also permitted when authors are subject to Crown Copyright.
UKRI’s licensing requirements do not apply to any materials included within a long-form output that are provided by third-party copyright holders. Academic books published under a CC BY, or other Creative Commons licence, may include third-party materials (such as images, photographs, diagrams or maps) which are subject to a more restrictive licence. UKRI considers this approach compliant with its policy.
Exceptions to licensing policy
UKRI recognises that there may be some instances where permissions for reuse in an open access book cannot be obtained for all third-party images or other materials. Therefore, an exception to the policy may be applied when reuse permissions for third-party materials cannot be obtained and there is no suitable alternative option available to enable open access publication.
Timing of implementation
The policy comes into effect for books published on or after 1 January 2024. Routes to compliance therefore need to be considered by authors now for any book that is already under contract or for which a contract will be signed for a book that will publish after 1 January 2024.
Routes to compliance
For in-scope monographs, book chapters and edited collections:
- The final Version of Record (Gold open access) or the Author’s Accepted Manuscript (Green open access, in an open access repository) must be free to view and download via an online publication platform, publishers’ website, or institutional or subject repository within a maximum of 12 months of publication
- The open access version must have a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence or other licence permitted by UKRI (see ‘Licensing requirements’ above) and allows the reader to search for and reuse content, subject to proper attribution
- The open access version should include, where possible, any images, illustrations, tables and other supporting content (see ‘Licensing requirements’ above)
- Where an Author’s Accepted Manuscript is deposited, it should be clear that this is not the final published version
We are aware that authors will have questions about aspects of the new policy, and we await further guidance from UKRI and from publishers on monographs. As more information is received, it will be made available on UCL’s UKRI open access webpages.
UKRI funding will be available through UCL’s Open Access Team to allow some books to be made Gold open access and we await further information from UKRI about this.
We expect further clarification from UKRI on criteria for exceptions to the CC BY licence, funding and tools to help authors. In the meantime, we are providing briefings to all departments on the new policy, as well as open briefings for anyone to attend. Please contact us if you would like more information.