Open Access and HEFCE's new REF requirement

The idea of Open Access has been debated extensively in recent years. In the past, it has largely been a personal choice whether or not to make all of your papers and talks openly available, but increasingly there is government pressure to move in this direction. 

In particular, HEFCE introduced a new rule on Open Access Research which became effective from April 1, 2016: 

Journal articles and articles in conference proceedings will only be eligible for submission in the next REF if they have been deposited in an institutional or subject repository within 3 months of being accepted for publication. 

Additional Oxford University information on this requirement is available here, and elsewhere on the Open Access Oxford website

What should you do? The answer is to deposit your paper in ORA, the university's central Oxford Research Archive. 

You are free to also make the paper available on your own webpage and/or arXiv, but doing this on its own is not acceptable -- the university has decided that everyone must put papers on ORA because that will streamline the process for the next REF. 

Although the new rules apply only to papers accepted from April 1, 2016, because it will streamline the REF process, the department would like everyone to also deposit all earlier papers accepted since the publication cutoff date for the last REF -- Dec 31, 2013.


Do I need to pay page charges?

In general the answer is NO!  As academics, we already do most of the work as authors, reviewers and editors, and in most cases the university has to pay for access to the journal, so paying page charges on top just increases the profits of the publishers. The only circumstances under which page charges seem appropriate are:

  • The entire journal is Open Access and its existence depends on page charges -- this applies to the PLOS journals, for example, and authors can obtain funding for page charges from the university.
  • The research funding body requires immediate open access journal publication, and the research funding has a line item to cover the costs -- this possibly applies to EU H2020 funding. 

Depositing your paper in ORA

Once your paper has been accepted for publication, you simply follow these instructions to deposit your paper in ORA using the Symplectics system (see single-sign-on login in top-right corner). 

Don't forget your data

At the same time as depositing your final paper in ORA, you should also remember to deposit your "supporting data" in ORA-data

This is a separate requirement which was initially for those with EPSRC research funding but is now required under the university's Policy on Research Data Management

For more details, see here