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Open Access, Scholarly Publishing and Copyright

See also our page of Open Access definitions and support for open access

What are the latest open access requirements for the next REF (new)

What is open access?

What are the benefits of open access?

How can I find open access resources?

How can I make my research open access?

If I choose the 'green' route, which version should I deposit?

Is there funding available for open access?

How can I get more involved with open access content?

What is 'Green' open access?

What is 'Gold' open access?

How do I know what copyright policies apply to my publication?

Do I own the copyright in my articles?

What is the deposit licence that appears when I upload documents in Pure?

What about third party copyright?


What are the latest open access requirements for the next REF

The four UK Funding Councils (including SFC, and led by Research England) have introduced an Open Access Policy for the next Research Excellence Framework (REF). In order to be eligible for REF2021, the policy requires articles and conference proceedings to be deposited in an institutional repository when they are accepted for publication. St Andrews has embedded the policy as an institutional requirement.

See: more about REF2021 OA Policy. The policy is contained in paragraphs 105-114 of the final guidance on submissions with detailed guidance in paragraphs 223-255.

Make sure your work can meet REF requirements by entering the details of your publications into Pure and at the same time uploading your Author Accepted Manuscript in Pure. See our web pages with essential information and how to deposit your author accepted manuscript.


What is open access?

Open access in this context means research literature that can be freely accessed by anyone in the world via the internet so that it can be used without licensing restrictions for research, teaching or other purposes. Scholarly norms for attribution still apply to open access publications, so authors should always be properly acknowledged. Copyright also applies, and the rights holder (often the publisher) controls the right to permit open access.

What are the benefits of open access?

Open access to research increases its visibility, reaching a wider audience and therefore increasing its potential for:

  • Greater citation
  • Enhancing reputation
  • Attracting potential collaborators, funders and students
  • Compliance with funder requirements
  • Sharing knowledge from publicly funded research.

Studies comparing citation counts report a significant advantage for open access. Articles on this topic are available from the Open Citation Project bibliography. For example see:

As well as benefits to individuals and the University, there is a strong argument that “ideas and knowledge derived from publicly-funded research must be made available and accessible for public use, interrogation and scrutiny, as widely, rapidly and effectively as practicable.” (RCUK position statement)    

See more information at our Open access blog.

How can I find open access resources?

See our LibGuide for an introduction to a wide range of open access resources.

How can I make my research open access?

Open Access can be achieved through two main routes:

Route 1: Deposit or ‘self-archive’ in a digital repository ("Green")

Subject to copyright, authors can deposit copies of their articles in repositories alongside their publication in normal journals. The available evidence shows that this does not affect journal subscriptions, and 80% of publishers formally allow some form of self-archiving (Sherpa / Romeo statistics).

The system works by a version of the work being deposited into a repository such as St Andrews Research Repository. The repository is set up so content can be found easily by search engines and service providers, and readers can view the full-text direct from the institutional repository without needing a subscription to the relevant journal. Details and links to the definitive published version are also provided to ensure correct citation.

To follow the green route: add the full text of your research outputs in Pure. It is easy and quick to do, and the library can help with checking copyright and other queries.

Route 2: Publish in an open access journal ("Gold")

An alternative way of providing open access is to publish in an open access Journal, often known as the ‘Gold’ route. Open access journals make all their articles available for free to all readers and use a variety of business models to achieve this. One model is to charge for publication services before publication, rather than charging for subscriptions. Article Processing Charges (APCs) can often be included within the costs of research funding, so the money for access comes through the research funder, rather than through the library budget. Of course, the initial source of the money is often the same (from government funding), but the economics of this model means that the overall cost is potentially lower[1].

There are a growing number of fully open access journals, with a list of the ones currently meeting strict criteria provided by the Directory of Open Access Journals. The Public Library of Science (PLoS) who make all their content freely available, state: “As a researcher, publishing in an open access journal allows anyone with an interest in your work to read it - and that translates into increased usage and impact”. The Library has a number of OA memberships to reduce overall costs.

Most publishers now operate ‘hybrid journals’, where the subscription version is still sold, but authors can choose to pay a fee for individual articles to be made freely available. The typical cost is around £1,800.

In some cases, the paid route may be the only option to comply with your funder’s requirements.

If I choose the 'green' route, which version should I deposit?

It is important to deposit the version that complies with publisher copyright policies as well as any funders' requirements. This is usually the accepted author final version following peer review but before the publisher’s copyediting and formatting. The Sherpa / Romeo database is a useful resource for checking details of standard publisher policies.

The type of content and correct version to deposit in a repository may also depend on your subject discipline. Examples of different practices include:

  • Physics and Economics – commonly circulate unrefereed articles or working papers in advance of publication
  • Computer Science - an accepted method of communication is through conference papers
  • Arts & Humanities – research outputs are often book chapters
  • Biomedicine - generally only circulate refereed versions of papers.

By accepting different types of content, repositories reflect and support the existing research culture of your discipline.

The Versions Toolkit provides useful explanations of the various versions of journal articles produced during the research process. Some commonly used terms are:

  • ‘Submitted’ – also known as pre-print – the version submitted to a journal for peer review
  • ‘Accepted’ – also known as post-print – the author-created version that incorporates referees comments and has been accepted for publication
  • ‘Published’ – usually the publisher’s PDF – this version has been typeset and formatted for publication.

Top tip: Create and keep your own author-created submitted and accepted versions of research publications.

Is there funding available for open access?

Central funding is available under certain criteria to support UKRI and Wellcome Trust-funded researchers, and we have a small institutional fund for fully open access journals.

For further advice or to make a claim from the UKRI Block Grant, contact Open Access Support.

For a number of years the Wellcome Trust has provided a block grant to support their open access policy. See details on Wellcome Trust compliance and how to claim.

See further information on central funding for open access and institutional membership agreements with publishers.

How can I get more involved with open access content?

If you are interested in starting your own open access journal, or want to know more about making content available in St Andrews Research Repository, see information about our journal hosting service and related repository services.

For practical advice on choosing an open access option, contact Open Access Support in Research and Innovation Services.

How do I know what copyright policies apply to my publication?

You can find information in the publishing agreement you signed, which may be called an Exclusive Licence or Copyright Transfer Agreement. There will usually be information on the publisher's website (on a "for authors" page) or try the SHERPA / RoMEO database which lists most standard policies and how they affect full text deposit. Most publishers will allow you to deposit your author accepted version (post-print), after peer review but before the publisher’s formatting is applied.

Digital Research staff will use the RoMEO database to check publishers' standard copyright policies, any restrictions such as embargo periods or conditions such as linking to publisher websites. We will meet these conditions for you before making articles publicly available.

Do I own copyright in my articles?

This depends on the agreement you have signed with the publisher. For more information on author's rights and retaining copyright please see the Versions Toolkit to help you consider copyright for all potential research outputs. The SPARC Author Rights Initiative is also a useful source of information.

What is the deposit licence that appears when I upload documents in Pure?

The deposit licence is an agreement that allows us to add your items to the repository and make them publicly available. By agreeing the licence you also confirm your responsibility for the content and that you have permission from any copyright holders.  The deposit licence also gives permission for the repository to store and migrate content as required to future platforms, thus ensuring permanent digital storage and archiving.

What about third party copyright?

If the copyright on any of the material you deposit, e.g. illustrations, is owned by others, then you are responsible for ensuring you have the permission of the copyright holder, or that the inclusion of this third party copyright material can be considered ‘fair use’.

[1] Houghton, JW. and Oppenheim, C. (2010) 'The economic implications of alternative publishing models', Prometheus, 28: 1, 41-54 DOI: 10.1080/08109021003676359