New UKRI Open Access policy – what we are doing to help

Picture of orange wall with word new written on it

UKRI has published a new Open Access (OA) policy. This post outlines the university’s response, and what we are doing to help our researchers meet the requirements.

Interested to learn more about what you can do as a researcher? Read our other post, New UKRI Open Policy- what researchers can do


On 6th August 2021 UKRI published its new Open Access policy. This is the latest development for Open Access in the UK, which began with the Finch report in 2012. OA policies for RCUK and the REF followed, and more recently JISC’s Read and Publish agreements now seek to support more ‘frictionless’ publishing for the sector. At the beginning of 2021 Wellcome published their new Open Access policy that provided an indication how the UKRI policy might evolve. These latest moves and this new UKRI policy are all aligned with Plan S supported by the international consortium cOAlition S. There is a strong indication that a new Open Access policy for the REF, due to be published in November, will mirror this new UKRI policy and will similarly align with Plan S.

Summary of changes

UKRI’s Open Access policy applies to:

  • journal articles submitted for publication on or after 1 April 2022
  • monographs, book chapters and edited collections published on or after 1 January 2024


Must be Open Access immediately upon publication.

  • Embargoes in KAR will no longer be permitted.
  • APCs to make individual articles OA in hybrid journals will not be funded
  • CC BY licence is essential (with some permitted exceptions for use of CC BY ND)
  • A Data Access Statement is mandatory, even where there are no data associated with the article or the data are inaccessible
  • MRC and BBSRC biomedical research articles that acknowledge this funding to be archived in Europe PubMed Central

Books and book chapters

Must be Open Access within 12 months of publication

  • Either published as an OA item or by deposit of Author Accepted Manuscript in KAR
  • Exceptions will be permitted e.g.  for problems related to obtaining permission for re-use of third party material. Exceptions guidance is not detailed yet
  • CC BY licence required
  • Books may include third-party materials (such as images, photographs, diagrams or maps) which are subject to a more restrictive licence

What we aim to do to help

Technical changes to our repository

We need to make some alterations to KAR, such as making the funder field mandatory and ensuring that licence information is included in KAR entries. We have tools to evaluate KAR’s preparedness for Plan S and UKRI policy and have governance and processes to identify and prioritise developments to KAR.

Policy changes

We need to amend the current university Open Access policy to ensure it aligns with UKRI, REF and Plan S and supports researchers to meet these requirements

Training and guidance

We will provide training and workshops about Open Scholarship in collaboration with the GRC and online guidance on our suite of Open Access webpages

Read and Publish agreements and publishing strategies

Information Services and the Office for Scholarly Communication’s aim has been to make publishing as “frictionless” as possible for our researchers. We evaluate, fund and support sector wide negotiations for Read and Publish agreements. These agreements allow our researchers to publish articles immediately Gold Open Access in the journals covered by the agreements. This also helps meet UKRI, REF and Plan S objectives.

We will work with the Divisions to understand the journals that will be the most important for our researchers to publish in, and to assess the publishing opportunities provided by these agreements. We will provide robust feedback to publishers and JISC where publishers have failed to meet the agreed OA publishing commitments we have paid for. We will collaborate across the sector to support the development of tools that enable researchers to identify journals Open Access offers and eligibility. An example is look-up checkers such as the Plan S Journal Checker Tool.

Manage APC funds

UKRI have confirmed that we will continue to receive an Open Access block grant. We will continue to manage applications to use these funds and report to UKRI on their use. We will work with RIS and the OSC Steering Group to enable us to monitor and report on the use of APC funds as efficiently as possible.

Review our REF Assisted Deposit Service

Information Services provides a service to researchers through which we add articles and conference proceedings to KAR on their behalf to assist them to meet policy requirements. We will review this service to determine whether it should and could be expanded to include books and book chapters.

Explore Rights Retention

The UKRI policy is aligned with the Plan S ‘Rights Retention Strategy’ which allows researchers to avoid exclusive agreements with publishers that inhibit immediate open access. We will advise researchers on their rights and how to notify publishers which rights they retain at the point of submission. We will also explore options for adopting an institutional policy that aligns with rights retention principles. 


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