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Open Access at Aston: REF 2021 OA Policy

To be eligible for submission to REF 2021, peer-reviewed journal articles and conference proceedings must be deposited in a repository within three months of acceptance. These outputs must also meet minimum requirements for deposit, discoverability and accessibility. The full policy document for submissions can be found on the REF 2021 website


If you have questions about the REF Open Access policy, please refer to the REF Frequently Asked Questions or email us at

What is included

The REF publication period is 1 January 2014 through 31 December 2020. However, the Open Access Policy only applies to the included outputs described below:


What is included:

  • Journal articles and conference proceedings published with an ISSN
  • Items accepted for publication from 1 April 2016 to the present

What is not included:

  • All other type of research outputs (such as books, chapters, reports, etc.)
  • Items accepted for publication 1 January 2014 through 31 March 2016 

How to comply

To comply with the REF Open Access Policy, please deposit your accepted manuscript (AAM) within three months of acceptance via either of these two methods:

  1. Email the AAM and article details to,
  2. Deposit the output yourself in Pure. Instructions on how to do this can be downloaded here.


We then check your publication's metadata, copyright, document type and if any REF exceptions apply. 


If your article has been published in a fully open access journal or an Article Processing Charge has been paid to make it gold open access, you can also deposit the published pdf. 

But what if.....

If you have a publication that is not compliant and you want to submit it to REF, please get in touch with us to discuss possible options. ‚ÄčREF do allow exceptions to cover a number of circumstances and scenarios. These are applied by the Open Access and Research Repository Specialists. If an exception is applied to an output, it can be submitted to REF as a compliant output.



  • At the point of acceptance, it was not possible to secure the use of a repository
  • There was a delay in securing the final peer-reviewed text (for instance, where a paper has many authors or corresponding author is based in another country)
  • The staff member to whom the output is attributed was not employed on a Category A eligible contract by a UK HEI (defined in paragraphs 52 to 63) at the time of submission for publication
  • It would be unlawful to deposit, or request the deposit of, the output
  • Depositing the output would present a security risk


  • The output depends on the reproduction of third-party content for which open access rights could not be granted (either within the specified timescales, or at all)
  • The publication concerned requires an embargo period that exceeds the stated maxima, and was the most appropriate publication for the output
  • The publication concerned actively disallows open-access deposit in a repository, and was the most appropriate publication for the output


  • At the point of acceptance, the staff member to whom the output is attributed was employed at a different UK HEI, and it has not been possible to determine compliance with the criteria
  • The repository experienced a short-term or transient technical failure that prevented compliance with the criteria (this should not apply to systemic issues)
  • An external service provider failure prevented compliance (for instance, a subject repository did not enable open access at the end of the embargo period, or a subject repository ceased to operate


  • For circumstances not covered above