Scholarly Communications

Open access

RCUK funded research and Open Access - advice for researchers

Since April 1 2013 the Research Councils UK have had a new Policy on Open Access. It applies to all researchers publishing peer-reviewed research papers arising from funding provided by one of the seven Research Councils UK.

Researchers are now expected to publish their RCUK funded peer-reviewed articles and conference papers in journals compliant with the RCUK Policy on Open Access. The policy also specifies that all papers must include information on:

  • the funding that supported the research
  • how to access any underlying research materials such as data, samples or models.

To assist with Research Councils UK’s OA policy the University has received financial support for APCs (RCUK funded papers only) through a block grant to the University for those choosing the Gold route. Funding for APCs will no longer be available through RCUK grant applications.

The RCUK have also provided a set of FAQs for researchers seeking to comply with their new OA policy.

How to publish in journals compliant with RCUK policy

The RCUK states that a journal is compliant with their policy if either of the following applies:

  1. "The journal consents to deposit of the final Accepted Manuscript in any repository, without restriction on non‐commercial re‐use and within a defined period. No APC will be payable to the publisher.”  This is often known as the Green Open Access route. In STEM disciplines, RCUK will accept a delay/embargo of no more than six months between on‐line publication and the final Accepted Manuscript becoming Open Access. For AHSS papers (mainly funded by the AHRC and the ESRC), the maximum embargo period is twelve months.
  2. “The journal provides, via its own website, immediate and unrestricted access to the final published version of the paper, which should be made available using the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence, and allows immediate deposit of the final published version in other repositories without restriction on re‐use. This may involve payment of an ‘Article Processing Charge’ (APC) to the publisher.” This is often known as the Gold Open Access route. 

Papers published under the “Gold Open Access” route must be published under a CC-BY licence, the terms of which include unrestricted re-use of content (with proper attribution). If you are not happy with making your work available under the terms of this licence please consider using the first option above, the “Green OA route” (always read your publishing agreement carefully). Further guidance on licences and publishing is available.

There is a new service called SHERPA/FACT designed to help authors to check whether their target journal complies with their funder’s policy.

Are you entitled to RCUK Open Access funding?

The RCUK now support the payment of APCs through block grants to universities. These charges will be paid to publishers through systems at the university. Researchers are no longer able to factor the cost of APCs into their RCUK funding bids.

If you have a paper which arose from a grant from one of the RCUK funding bodies, and you submitted your paper on or after 1st April 2013, you may be entitled to RCUK funding to pay this charge. Please complete the RCUK Open Access Funding Request form, ideally before submitting your paper to a journal.

If you experience any problems in using this form please contact:

What else do you need to know?

  • The RCUK are checking compliance with their policies. Therefore, it is important that RCUK funded researchers comply with the OA policy. Not complying could adversely affect future funding opportunities.
  • Papers published under the Gold OA route should also be submitted to the Institutional Repository (see “How do I submit my research output?” here). This makes them both Gold and Green OA.
  • Specific requirements may vary between funders and these are detailed in the policies of individual Research Councils - please read your funder’s OA policy carefully. SHERPA/JULIET also provides details of individual research funders’ policies.