REF 2021 Open Access Deposit Requirements

The Funding Councils have a policy regarding open access in the post-2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF):


REF OA Deposit Requirements

In order for publications to be eligible for submission to the REF the following conditions must be met:

  • The authors’ final peer-reviewed manuscripts (Author’s Accepted Manuscripts) must be deposited in an institutional/subject repository (such as STORRE) within 3 months of acceptance for publication. 
  • Deposited material should be discoverable and free to read and download (although the policy allows repositories to respect publishers' embargo periods).
  • The requirement applies to journal articles (including systematic reviews) and papers from conference proceedings*. 
  • The policy does not apply to monographs, book chapters, other long-form publications, working papers, creative or practice-based research outputs, or data.
  • The policy applies to research outputs accepted for publication after 1 April 2016.

*Note: The proceedings requirement applies to papers from conference proceedings with an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) or conference papers published in journals with an ISBN or conferences papers that are published online-only in journal-like series of proceedings (typically in the sciences). If in doubt assume your conference paper needs to comply. Details at: in Section 2.4.




Complying with the REF OA Policy

To comply with the REF policy, Stirling researchers should submit their publication details to the Research Management System (RMS) and attach the full-text PDF file of their final peer-reviewed manuscripts. The PDF file will be copied to STORRE, the University's institutional repository. 

Follow the steps below:



A PDF version of Complying With REFs Open Access Policy is available.


Adding accepted papers to RMS

The process for adding accepted papers to RMS is outlined in detail in the steps below

(see also the March 2016 presentation Using RMS to comply with Open Access Requirements):




A PDF version of Adding Accepted Manuscripts To RMS is available.


Date of Acceptance and required version of publication

The date of acceptance is the point at which the author is notified that:

  • their output has been reviewed by the journal or conference (normally via peer review)
  • all academically necessary changes have been made in response to that review
  • the article is ready to be taken through the final steps toward publication (normally copy-editing and typesetting).

By this point, the paper should have been updated to include all changes resulting from peer review as well as any changes of an academic nature requested by the journal editor or conference organiser. At this stage, the journal editor or conference organiser normally notifies the author that their paper has been ‘firmly’ accepted (as opposed to any earlier point of ‘provisional’ acceptance e.g. conditional on major or minor revisions being made) and the paper is ready for copy-editing or typesetting; it is the date of this notification that should be taken to mean the date of acceptance.

The author’s final, accepted manuscript is the one that has been agreed with the editor at that point. The accepted manuscript is not the same as the copy-edited, typeset or published paper – these versions are known as ‘proofs’ or ‘versions of record’ and publishers do not normally allow authors to make these open-access.


Suitable Open Access Repository

Note that making your publication available via social networking sites such as ResearchGate or will not meet the REF Open Access requirement.  A social networking site is not an open access repository and there are major differences between such networking sites and Open Access institutional/subject repositories (such as STORRE). 



Questions about RMS and Open Access

If you have any questions about the RMS and Open Access, contact:


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