Scholarly Communications

Open access

Research Council funded research and Open Access - advice for researchers

Since April 1 2013 the UK Research Councils have had a 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 Research Councils' 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' OA policy the University has received financial support for APCs (UK Research Council 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 UK Research Council grant applications.

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

How to publish in journals compliant with the UK Research Councils' policy

The Research Councils state 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 Research Council Open Access funding?

The UK Research Councils support the payment of APCs through block grants to universities. These charges may be paid to publishers through systems at the university. Researchers are no longer able to factor the cost of APCs into their Research Council funding bids.

If you are currently submitting a paper for publication which arose from a grant from one of the UK Research Councils, you may be entitled to funding to pay this charge. Please complete the Research Councils Open Access Funding Request form, ideally before submitting your paper to a journal.

Note that future funding is not guaranteed unless you have had a funding request approved. 

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



What else do you need to know?

  • The Research Councils / UKRI are checking compliance with their policies. Therefore, it is important that Researtch Council 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.