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Open Access

REF2021: Act on Acceptance!

HEFCE (now incorporated into UKRI) formulated the open access policy and requirements for the REF2021. The policy is intended to promote open access by requiring the deposit of full text in subject or institutional repositories in order to make papers submissible to the next REF.

Pure is the King’s institutional repository. Data and full text from Pure populates King's researchers' profiles on the King’s Research Portal. In this way it can make peer-reviewed versions of your research papers freely available.

At King's, Pure enables your papers to become eligible for submission to REF2021. Please ensure eligibility: act on acceptance and deposit on Pure!

Key features of the REF2021 open access policy

  • The policy applies only to journal articles and conference proceedings with an ISSN. Monographs, other long-form publications, creative or non-text outputs and data are unaffected.
  • Affected research outputs that do not comply will not be eligible for REF submission.
  • The policy only applies to eligible outputs accepted for publication from April 2016 onwards.
  • Deposit must be of the author’s accepted and final peer reviewed manuscript version (sometimes known as the "post-print" version), not the publisher's final pdf.
  • Qualifying outputs must have a record created in a repository within 90 days of the date of acceptance (the date of the publisher's notification) and the author's accepted and final peer reviewed version of the full-text of the paper must be appended.
  • It is deposit within the time limit that is mandated - not the public accessibility of your paper. Most journals require you to embargo any paper you upload to Pure, to hide it from the public for a set period.
  • The maximum acceptable embargo periods are 12 months for REF Panels A and B, and 24 months for REF Panels C and D. If your journal exceeds the relevant maximum, it will be necessary to upload the paper to Pure anyway then apply for the appropriate exception (see below).

Complying with the policy at King's

Qualifying research must be deposited in an acceptable repository such as Pure at the point of acceptance (or in the following 90 days). See our page on How to deposit in Pure for a quick guide. Further support with creating or modifying Pure records is available from the Library Research Support team at If you have any questions about complying with the REF2021 open access policy, please contact the Research Support team at

Note that if your research is funded by a COAF health charity or an RCUK council, complying with the REF2021 requirements will probably not satisfy your open access obligation to your funder. If you are funded by COAF and/or RCUK and your paper is eligible, please also complete this form when your paper is accepted for publication to learn how to comply with your funder's requirements.

Exceptions to the policy

Occasionally, it will not be possible for an output to fulfil the standard REF2021 open access compliance criteria. Exceptions to the policy are allowed in the following cases:

  1. You were not employed by a UK HEI at the point of acceptance.
  2. You did not have use of a repository at time of acceptance.
  3. You experienced a delay securing the final peer-reviewed text (e.g. for multi-authored papers).
  4. It would be unlawful, or present a security risk, to deposit the output.
  5. Output depends on third party content for which open access rights could not be granted.
  6. The publication concerned requires an embargo period that exceeds the stated maxima, and was the most appropriate for the output.
  7. The publication concerned actively disallows open access deposit, and was the most appropriate for the output.
  8. At acceptance, you were at a different UK HEI that failed to comply.
  9. A short-term technical failure within the repository prevented compliance.
  10. An external service provider failure prevented compliance (e.g. a subject repository ceased to operate).
You can read more about the relevant exceptions and how they can be claimed on the REF exceptions page. Note that with several exceptions (i.e. 5,6 and 7 above) it is still necessary to upload the author's accepted manuscript within 90 days - even if there is no prospect of it ever being public.



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