UCL Library Services
- About us
- Electronic resources
- Libraries and study spaces
- Opening hours
- Open Access
- Research Data Management
- UCL Press
- Special Collections, Archives & Exhibitions
- Getting help
- Customer Service
- Contact us
- A-Z of the library
Open access: frequently asked questions
Here we cover the questions most commonly asked about open access at UCL.
If you can't find the answer you need, contact the Open Access Team.
- About open access
- REF open access policy
- Exceptions to the REF policy
- UCL Discovery and RPS
- Open access funds
Open access means making research publications freely available online. There are no payment restrictions on open access publications, so everyone can read them.
There are two types of open access, Gold and Green. See our Open access basics page for more.
UCL's policy is that the accepted manuscript of all outputs must be uploaded to UCL’s Research Publications Service (RPS). Manuscripts will be made open access through UCL Discovery, UCL’s institutional repository, according to the publisher’s copyright permissions (usually after a delay period).
To be eligible for submission to the next REF, journal articles and conference proceedings accepted for publication after 1 April 2016 must have been deposited in an open access repository. At UCL, researchers must upload their papers to UCL’s Research Publications Service (RPS).
- It is best practice to upload your paper to RPS as soon as it is accepted for publication. Outputs not uploaded within 3 months of first online publication cannot be submitted to the REF.
- The version to upload is the final accepted manuscript (after peer-review, but before the publisher’s typesetting).
- The Open Access Team will make your paper open access through UCL Discovery, UCL's institutional repository, according to the publisher’s copyright permissions (usually after a delay period). If it cannot be made open access, the output will fall under an exception in the REF policy, and can still be submitted to the REF.
Articles and conference proceedings accepted for publication after 1 April 2016 that are not deposited in an open access repository within three months of first online publication cannot be submitted to the next REF. It is best practice to upload your accepted manuscript to UCL's Research Publications Service (RPS) as soon as your work is accepted for publication.
The REF policy applies to journal articles and conference proceedings. This includes papers presented at a conference, or part of a conference proceedings, but does not include abstracts and posters.
UCL’s policy is that outputs of all types should be uploaded to UCL’s Research Publications Service (RPS). Extra REF credit is available for depositing outputs outside the scope of the REF policy.
The REF policy applies to articles and conference papers accepted for publication after 1 April 2016. Papers accepted before that date do not have to be uploaded to RPS: they can be submitted to the next REF without having been deposited and made open access through a repository. UCL encourages authors to upload older publications, but this is not required for REF.
Papers that have not been uploaded to an open access repository cannot be submitted to the REF. It is not possible to comply with the policy retrospectively. You need to make sure that all your papers comply at the outset, even though only some will be submitted to the REF - otherwise there is a risk that the papers eventually selected for the REF cannot be submitted.
It is best practice to upload your accepted manuscript to UCL’s Research Publications Service (RPS) as soon as your work is accepted for publication. Articles and conference proceedings accepted after 1 April 2016 that are not deposited in an open access repository within three months of first online publication cannot be submitted to the next REF.
In its original form, the REF policy requires papers to be uploaded within 3 months of being accepted for publication. For the first two years of the policy, the deadline has been extended to 3 months after the date of first online publication. It is still best practice to upload your paper to RPS as soon as it is accepted for publication.
In some disciplines, RPS finds records of papers in databases like Scopus and Web of Science, based on your RPS search settings, and offers them to you to "claim". You should not wait to receive these notifications, as they might well appear after the deadline for uploading the paper to RPS, which is 3 months from the date of first online publication.
We recommend that you create a simple record in RPS as soon as your paper is accepted for publication, and attach your accepted manuscript to it. If RPS later finds a full record in a database, that record should be merged with your basic one.
You should upload your final accepted manuscript. This may be alternatively referred to as the "final author version", "final manuscript" or "post-print". It is the version of your work which:
- has been accepted for publication
- has been peer-reviewed
- but has not yet had the publisher's layout and typesetting applied
Most publishers allow this version to be made open access after an embargo (delay) period (see our open access basics page for more information). The final published PDF (the final version that appears on the publisher's website) cannot usually be made open access in a repository, unless Gold open access fees have been paid.
The corresponding author on my paper is based elsewhere. Do I need to ask them for the final accepted manuscript so that I can upload it?
Yes. There is an exception in the REF policy if you are unable to obtain a copy of the final accepted manuscript, but you should make all reasonable efforts to get hold of it from the corresponding author, or from your other co-authors. If you don't succeed, contact the Open Access Team.
The REF policy requires authors to upload their accepted manuscript, after peer-review but before publisher copy-editing and typesetting. Most publishers allow the accepted manuscript to be made open access, usually after an embargo (delay) period, but do not allow the published PDF to be made openly available.
While the accepted manuscript contains all changes arising from peer-review, it does not usually contain changes made during copy-editing and typesetting. If you would prefer to upload a version that contains these changes, you can either copy them into the accepted manuscript, or ask the publisher for permission to upload a later version.
Whose responsibility is it to upload? Do papers with co-authors at different institutions have to be uploaded to more than one repository?
Where a paper involves authors at more than one UK institution, the accepted manuscript must be uploaded to each institution’s repository. This is because each author, and each institution, is responsible for their own REF submission, and for demonstrating compliance with the policy.
It is for the authors to agree between themselves who will upload to the relevant repositories. If the corresponding author is at UCL, it may be convenient for the authors to agree that s/he has principal responsibility for uploading; but this is a matter for the authors. Ultimately, each author is responsible for his/her REF compliance, and must ensure that his/her papers are in RPS.
No. If a paper is co-authored by several UCL researchers, only one of them needs to upload the paper to RPS. As long as all the UCL authors are added to the RPS record, the paper will appear in the other authors’ RPS profiles as a pending publication (where they can claim it as theirs). Once it has been claimed, as long as one of the authors has uploaded the file it will appear in all the authors’ records.
Most publishers do not permit the version of record of a paper to be made open access in a repository unless Gold open access fees have been paid. Except in that case, the accepted manuscript must be uploaded. Generally only authors have access to their accepted manuscripts.
Although it is each author's responsibility to maintain their publications records in RPS, authors can delegate access to someone else with an RPS account - an administrator or PA, for instance. Delegates can manage publication records and add files to them, though the author must provide the files.
To set up a delegate, in RPS go to Account Settings (top right), then search for your colleague in the Add delegate section.
New members of staff should upload the final accepted manuscript of all journal articles and conference papers that were accepted for publication after 1 April 2016. If you are unable to do so, contact the Open Access Team.
Yes. It is important that all papers that fall under the policy are uploaded, so that they are eligible for submission - regardless of where the authors are based at the time of the next REF.
Yes. It is not yet clear how the next REF will be conducted. It is important that all papers that fall under the policy are uploaded, so that they are eligible for submission - regardless of where the authors are based at the time of the next REF.
Yes, we recommend that they do. Honorary members of staff have RPS profiles. It is not yet clear how the next REF will be conducted, and it is important that all papers that fall under the policy are uploaded, so that they are eligible for submission.
No. Uploading your paper to RPS does not make it openly available. There are two requirements in the REF policy:
- to deposit your paper within 3 months of publication: this means uploading your manuscript to RPS.
- to make your paper open access no later than 12 months (REF panels A and B) or 24 months (REF panels C and D) after publication.
Publishers normally impose a delay on making papers open access (this is set out in the terms and conditions you agree to when you publish). After you upload your paper to RPS, the Open Access Team will check the publisher’s terms and conditions, and apply the relevant delay (embargo) period. The citation will appear in UCL Discovery, but the file itself will only be made open access after the embargo period.
Although you need to upload your accepted manuscript to RPS within 3 months of first online publication, the REF policy does not require it to be made open access immediately. The policy allows a delay of 12 months (REF panels A and B) or 24 months (REF panels C and D) after publication.
Most publishers impose an embargo (delay) on making accepted manuscripts
open access. Most embargo periods meet the REF requirements.
Where a journal does not allow open access at all, or has an embargo period that is too long, the author is encouraged to consider publishing in an alternative journal. If the author still wishes to publish in the journal, and considers that it is the most appropriate publication for the work, an exception to the policy applies. The accepted manuscript should still be uploaded to RPS within 3 months of first online publication. The Open Access Team will apply the exception automatically.
In all cases, UCL's Open Access Team will not make the paper open access until after the end of the publisher’s embargo period.
The REF policy does not restrict authors' academic freedom to choose the most appropriate journal for their output.
Most journals are compliant with the REF policy. Where a journal does not allow open access within 12 months (REF panels A and B) or 24 months (REF panels C and D), the author is encouraged to consider publishing in an alternative journal. If the author still wishes to publish in the journal, and considers that it is the most appropriate publication for the work, an exception to the policy applies. The accepted manuscript should still be uploaded to RPS within 3 months of first online publication. The Open Access Team will apply the exception automatically.
The REF policy requires authors to upload their accepted manuscripts to RPS. This is free, and is part of publishers’ normal permissions. If your publisher asks you if you want open access, they are normally asking you if you want to choose the paid (Gold) open access option, which involves paying a fee for immediate open access on the publisher’s website. At UCL, funds are available for papers funded by the UK Research Councils and certain medical funders, as well as for papers in fully open access journals where the corresponding author is a full member of staff or UCL student. See our open access basics page for more information about Gold.
If your paper is published with Gold open access - ie. open access on the publisher's website, usually with a Creative Commons licence - you do not need to upload it to RPS. The paper falls under an exception for Gold open access in the REF policy. Separately, the Open Access Team will upload the published PDF to RPS for you, so that it is made available in UCL Discovery as well as on the publisher's website.
Accepted manuscripts deposited in other repositories (e.g. Europe PubMed Central, or another institution’s repository), either by authors or publishers, need to be uploaded to RPS as well.
My paper is (or will be) available in a subject repository like Europe PubMed Central or arXiv – is this enough to comply with the REF policy? What about ResearchGate and Academia.edu?
Unless your paper is published with Gold open access, the accepted manuscript needs to be uploaded to RPS, even if the paper will also be made available through a subject repository like Europe PubMed Central or arXiv. If your funder requires open access in Europe PubMed Central, and your paper is not Gold open access, you will need to upload your manuscript both to Europe PubMed Central and to RPS.
Sites like ResearchGate and Academia.edu are social networking sites with commercial business models. They do not ensure long-term access to deposited publications. Uploading to these sites does not satisfy the requirements of the REF open access policy.
The publisher's website says that my paper is "free", or shows an open padlock. Do I still have to upload it?
Publishers often make papers freely available for a limited period of time. This is not the same as Gold open access, which means that the paper will be openly available in perpetuity on the publisher's website. Where a paper is labelled "free" or "free to view", the accepted manuscript still needs to be uploaded to RPS.
An open padlock on the publisher's website does not denote open access. Often this is simply an indication that the content has been made available through a UCL subscription.
Gold open access papers are normally labelled "open access", and usually contain a Creative Commons licence statement.
Letters, editorials, replies and corrections appear in RPS as "Journal articles".
Letters and editorials sometimes contain original research, and some disciplines submit them to the REF. In general, the accepted manuscript version of letters and editorials should be uploaded to RPS.
Where a letter or editorial will certainly not be submitted to the REF, the author(s) can inform the Open Access Team. The Team will remove the output from the monthly REF reports that are sent to departments, so that authors are not reminded to upload them. The Open Access Team routinely removes replies and corrections from these reports.
My working paper has been online for some time. Do I still need to upload the accepted manuscript, after it's accepted for publication?
Yes. The REF policy applies to the final accepted (peer-reviewed) manuscript, not to the draft (pre-print), so you must upload your publication to RPS.
Date of acceptance: this is the date, after peer-review, when the corresponding author was notified that the output would be proceeding to publication.
For conference papers, where date of acceptance may be unclear, enter the most appropriate date: e.g. the date that the camera-ready copy was submitted, the date of the conference, or the date (after the conference) when the revised paper was accepted for publication.
Date of publication: this is the date of online publication (otherwise known as "early view", or "online ahead of print"). If you are creating a record on acceptance, enter an estimated date of online publication. You can amend it later.
RPS is treating my conference presentation as a proceedings paper. Do conference abstracts and posters have to be uploaded?
The REF policy applies to papers published online after a conference, and to more formal papers published in the proceedings of a conference. It does not apply to abstracts of oral conference presentations, nor to poster abstracts.
If RPS wrongly identifies an abstract as a conference proceeding, you can change the output type. At the top of the full record in RPS, next to the output type, you will see a small pencil icon. Click on it, and you will be able to select "conference presentation" or "poster" instead.
UCL’s policy is that all outputs should be uploaded to RPS and made openly available in UCL Discovery where copyright conditions allow. Extra REF credit is available for uploading outputs outside the scope of the REF policy. Making your work open access through UCL Discovery will lead to increased citations and greater visibility for your research.
Yes, provided that your final accepted manuscript was uploaded to RPS within 3 months of first online publication. It will comply with the REF policy, even if the publisher's embargo period means that it is not open access at the time of the REF submission.
The version that needs to be uploaded to UCL's Research Publications Service (RPS) is the final accepted manuscript. However, it is HEFCE's current intention that REF panels will assess published versions of record, not accepted manuscripts, in the next REF.
If the journal's embargo period is longer than 12 months (REF panels A and
B) or 24 months (REF panels C and D), or the journal does not allow open
access at all, your paper will still be eligible for the REF provided you consider the journal the most appropriate publication for the work. Before submission, consider whether there are any suitable alternative publications.
After your paper is accepted for publication, upload your manuscript to UCL's Research Publications Service (RPS) as usual. It will be made open access after the embargo period, where this is permitted.
If your paper contains third-party content for which open access rights cannot be granted you have the option to upload the text on its own.
However, HEFCE recognises that the third-party content may be essential to the publication, and allows an exception in these circumstances.
If you cannot obtain your final manuscript (perhaps because you are not the corresponding author), this exception applies, and your paper is still eligible for the REF. Inform the Open Access Team. If you are not the corresponding author, you should make all reasonable efforts to get hold of the manuscript from the corresponding author, or from your other co-authors.
In this case, you can still submit your publications to the REF, but you should upload the manuscript in UCL's UCL's Research Publications Service (RPS) where possible. Inform the Open Access Team that this exception applies.
If the paper is being made Gold open access, then you do not need to upload your final manuscript to UCL's Research Publications Service (RPS). The Open Access Team will make the final published version open access through UCL Discovery after publication.
Where there are legal barriers to making a manuscript open access through a repository, or the
author's identity needs to be protected (so that depositing the paper
would put the author or the institution at risk), these exceptions can be
used. Inform the Open Access Team that it applies.
Very exceptionally, it may be possible to submit non-compliant papers to the REF even though they do not fall within any of the other exceptions. Contact the Open Access Team for advice.
UCL Discovery is UCL's open access repository, showcasing and providing access to UCL research publications.
To meet the requirements of the REF open access policy, UCL’s publications policy and UCL’s policy on thesis deposit, all outputs should be deposited in an open access repository. At UCL, researchers must upload their papers to UCL’s Research Publications Service (RPS).
It is best practice to upload your paper to RPS as soon as it is accepted for publication. Journal articles and conference proceedings not uploaded within 3 months of publication cannot be submitted to the REF.
Research Publications Service (RPS) is UCL's publication management system. Researchers’ publication details are imported or entered manually into author profiles in RPS. They are then transferred to UCL Discovery and IRIS.
- All types of publication can be uploaded. UCL's open access policy applies to all outputs, including books and book chapters.
- You can upload past publications from UCL and other institutions.
- Interviews, external documentaries and other activity promoting UCL research should be recorded in IRIS.
- Outputs from conferences, workshops and meetings held at UCL or organised by UCL researchers can be uploaded. Outputs by non-UCL researchers should be sent directly to email@example.com.
- UCL Discovery accepts small scale datasets associated with publications. Depending on the type of data you need to store, other UCL services may be more appropriate.
Contact the Open Access Team for more information.
If a paper has been added to your RPS record, but the accepted manuscript has not been uploaded, you will see an alert on your home page.
RPS gets details of your papers from databases like Scopus and Web of Science, usually after publication. The REF open access policy requires you to upload your manuscript within 3 months of publication, so it is best not to rely on your deposit alerts. It is best practice to upload your paper when it is accepted for publication.
My "manuscript" is a collection of files, eg. figures and sidebars. Do I have to create a single PDF?
No, you can upload all the relevant files separately, or as a zip file.
No. This contravenes copyright law and is illegal. Library staff will check versions after they are uploaded. The version that is uploaded must be the author's final accepted manuscript.
UCL Discovery aims to preserve content indefinitely. You may, however, request that the files are removed at any point in the future. You can also submit a revised version (with the exception of e-theses).
You can change details of publications in RPS. Any changes you make should appear in UCL Discovery. Contact the Open Access Team if you need help with particular records.
UCL Discovery reserves the right to remove work for any professional, administrative or legal reason.
UCL Discovery will apply a style template to manuscripts received in an editable format. The re-formatting ensures a uniform appearance and, where possible, includes page numbers to help with accurate citation.
After you upload a publication to UCL’s Research Publications Service (RPS), the UCL Discovery Team checks the copyright and publisher permissions, then makes the details of the publication available in UCL Discovery, applying an embargo on the full text where the publisher's policy requires it. This means that there will be a delay between your uploading the publication and it appearing in UCL Discovery. If you need the publication to appear in UCL Discovery urgently, please contact the Open Access Team.
Most publishers permit authors to make their manuscripts open access in repositories, but they often impose an embargo period (usually 6-24 months). After you upload your manuscript to RPS, the Open Access Team will check the publisher's permissions and apply any embargo period.
For details of journal embargo periods, contact the Open Access Team or check Sherpa ROMEO. Where embargo periods are unclear - particularly for books, chapters and conference papers - the Open Access Team will request clarification from the publisher.
I have uploaded my accepted manuscript. Which version of my paper will be made open access after the publisher's embargo period?
Most publishers do not permit the published PDF of a paper to be made open access in a repository unless Gold open access fees have been paid.
In most cases, the version that will be made open access after the publisher's embargo (delay) period is the accepted manuscript.
If I create a basic record for my publication so that I can upload the file on acceptance, will this lead to duplicate records in RPS?
If you create a basic record for a paper when it is accepted, and a full record is later imported into RPS from an external database like Scopus or Web of Science, the two records should be merged. If this does not happen, contact the Open Access Team and we will merge the duplicate records for you.
The copyright owner, usually the publisher or the author, holds the copyright of publications in UCL Discovery.
You may download and print a single copy of any item (and its associated media) held in UCL Discovery for your personal, non-commercial use without prior permission or charge, provided that you correctly refer to the paper.
Further use of any items from UCL Discovery may infringe copyright. If the material is required for any other purpose, you should contact the author or publisher directly.
Cite the publication as it appears at the top of the UCL Discovery record, then indicate that it is available in UCL Discovery.
Card, D., Dustmann, C., & Preston, I. (2009). Immigration, wages, and compositional amenities. CReAM Discussion Papers (CDP 29/09). Centre for the Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), London, UK. Available at http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/18906/
To find the correct page numbers, consult the original version of the publication on the publisher’s website.
What tools are available from UCL Discovery to make my publications more visible and measure impact?
Publication lists can be exported and embedded in other webpages. UCL authors can generate their own download statistics. Contact the Open Access Team for more information.
Seven medical funders, including the Wellcome Trust, provide UCL with central
funding to pay authors' Gold fees. The UK Research Councils also fund open access charges for a proportion of research papers, through a central UCL grant.
Other UCL authors may request funding from UCL's own open access fund. UCL encourages Green open access, but limited Gold funds are available for
UCL corresponding authors who are full (not honorary or visiting) UCL staff or research students. At UCL, the average cost of Gold open access is £1500 per paper.
The terms under which the UCL fund may be used are as follows.
- The corresponding author must be a full UCL member of staff or research student
- Honorary members of staff are not eligible
- The publisher must allow UCL to deposit the published PDF in UCL Discovery
- Funds must be available at the time of the request
To request funding for Gold open access, or for more information, complete this form and we'll reply with a summary of your options.
It’s usually best to contact us as soon as your publication is accepted for publication – remember that this is the best time to upload your manuscript to UCL's Research Publications Service (RPS), making it eligible for submission to the next REF. If you would like to choose Gold open access, we can follow up on your correspondence with the publisher.
To check that your
publisher complies with the REF policy, or your funder’s policy, contact us before you submit.
UCL has prepayment or membership schemes with a number of large publishers. We deposit a lump sum with the publisher, who takes payment from these funds when a UCL author chooses Gold open access. UCL receives a discount, and payment is very straightforward.
To find out more, visit our Publisher schemes page.
If UCL does not
have a membership scheme with your publisher, and we are able to pay Gold charges for your publication, we will pay by invoice.
Limited funds are available for other UCL corresponding authors who are full members of staff or students where the funder does not cover open access charges.
If UCL does not have a membership scheme with your publisher, but we are able to cover the open access charges, we will pay by invoice.
Some funders, including the Research Councils (RCUK) and the Wellcome Trust, require the CC BY licence for Gold open access. For unfunded publications, the publisher must at least allow UCL to make the published PDF available through UCL Discovery, UCL's open access repository. The CC BY licence is preferred.
To request funding for Gold open access, or for more information, complete this form and we'll reply with a summary of your options.
A small minority of publishers are accused of
exploiting the Gold open access model.
Predatory, fraudulent or vanity publishers produce journals with little or no
academic credibility, for financial gain only. Their peer-review process is either
non-existent, or lacking in rigour. They charge authors a full open access
article processing fee, around £1,500 per article (the sort of fee charged by
reputable high-quality peer-reviewed journals for open access).
OMICS Group is an example of a predatory publisher.
Predatory publishers will often spam authors in order to solicit submissions, and may fail to explain clearly the fees they charge. Some of these publishers mimic the webpages of legitimate publishers, and the differences can be difficult to spot at first (although they will be apparent on closer inspection).
Although the vast majority of open access publishers are credible, and the choice of where to publish is entirely at authors’ discretion, UCL will not be able to cover author fees for articles in journals of this type (including OMICS Group journals). We can advise if a journal or publisher is legitimate. You might like to contact us if you are considering submitting to:
- an open access publisher or journal that is unknown to you, especially if their correspondence contains spelling mistakes, grammatical errors or typos
- a fully open access journal that is not listed on the Directory of Open Access Journals
You might also find the Think, Check, Submit service useful. We can provide further examples of predatory publishers and their correspondence on request.
UCL's open access funds generally only cover open access payments. This includes Article Processing Charges from subscription journals, where the author chooses Gold open access, and "publication fees" from fully open access journals (eg. BioMed Central and PLOS).
In most cases, UCL cannot pay non-open access publication charges (eg. page and colour fees). There is one exception. If the research was funded by one of the UK Research Councils (RCUK), UCL can pay all publication fees from our RCUK grant. RCUK no longer allows authors to pay these costs from their own grants. Contact us to arrange payment by invoice.
To request funding for Gold open access, complete this form and we'll reply with a summary of your options.
If payment has to be made swiftly to avoid publication delays, you can pay on a credit card and ask us to reimburse you. Before doing so, it is advisable to contact us to make sure that the journal complies with any funder requirements, and that funds are available. Otherwise, it is normally easier if we pay directly.
If UCL has a membership scheme, payment is immediate. If we
are paying by invoice, UCL Accounts Payable should transfer the funds by the
invoice due date - normally 30 days after the date of the invoice.
If payment has to be made swiftly to avoid publication delays, you can pay on a credit card and ask us to reimburse you. Before doing so, it is advisable to contact us to make sure that funds are available.
Send it to us, and we'll investigate.
If you have paid for Gold open access, do I need to check that my paper is made open access after payment?
No - the Open Access Team will check for you. We will
also deposit the published PDF in UCL Discovery. If your funder requires you to
deposit in a subject repository (eg. Europe PubMed Central), you will need to
check that the publisher has done this for you.
Visit UCL's Research Data Services website to view UCL's policy on Research Data.
Visit the Library’s Copyright advice page
Page last modified on 11 mar 16 16:36
Follow us on Twitter for open access updates: @UCLopenaccess