Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Research Publishing (Open Access)

Open access compliance and REF 2021

Research Excellence Framework 2021

Image result for research excellence framework 2021 logo


Image source:

REF 2021 requirements

In order to be eligible for consideration for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, journal articles plus conference proceedings and papers which have been assigned an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) must, subsequent to 1 April 2016 and published on or before 31 December 2020, meet Open Access Requirements.

REF FAQs published August 2019. These relate to submissions to the REF 2021 and policy matters. They have been grouped by category.

Guidance on submissions:

The REF 2021 Guidance on submissions document published on 31 January 2019 contains the final open access policy for this research assessment exercise. Note: The Guidance on submissions publication supersedes the previously published open access policy document, circular letter(s) regarding the policy, and the FAQs (all published as HEFCE documentation).

Research outputs need to be deposited in a subject or institutional repository; in the case of the University of the Highlands and Islands, this means PURE. Further guidance on how to use this repository can be found via the University's research information system pages.

The version of the article deposited must be the post-print, or author-accepted manuscript (in other words, the final peer-reviewed document).

An article must be deposited in PURE within three months of publication acceptance (as dated in an acceptance communication from the publisher).

Post-deposit access embargo periods must not exceed the following:

  • 12 months for: Science, Technology, Behavioral Science, Public Health and Social Care
  • 24 months for: Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities, plus interdisciplinary research

Research outputs should be free from technical barriers, i.e. discoverable by search engines.  


SHERPA/REF (beta) aims to support authors and institutions in meeting open access (OA) requirements for REF 2021. Find out in just a few clicks if the journal in which you wish to publish (or have published in) allows you to comply with the REF requirements for open access to research.