Library Services


Supporting UCL’s REF submission

27 May 2022

The Open Access Team played a key role in UCL’s successful REF submission.

Graphic explaining UCL is rated second for research power in UK, according to the REF 2021.

UCL has come second in the UK for research power by a measure of average research score multiplied by staff numbers submitted. For this, 93 per cent of our research was graded 4* ‘world leading’ and 3* ‘internationally excellent’. Our research received a 'grade point average' of 3.50 (out of 4) – an improvement from 3.22 in 2014. A total of 3,432 UCL academics submitted to this Research Excellence Framework (REF) process.

UCL's Open Access Team played a key role in the university’s REF submission, by ensuring that academic departments were able to submit their best outputs. Thanks to the team’s work and to academics' engagement with Open Access, 97.7% of the university’s submissions were compliant (or had a permitted exception) with the REF Open Access policy.

The policy requires articles and conference proceedings that are submitted to the REF to be uploaded to UCL’s Research Publications Services (RPS) within 3 months of online publication and made Open Access within 12 or 24 months after publication, depending on their discipline.

As well as working on the REF submission itself, the Open Access Team supported and trained academics and departments with all aspects of the policy. This included advising on the requirements and exceptions; providing training and assistance with RPS; and monitoring compliance so that UCL's top outputs were eligible for submission.

Following the introduction of the REF Open Access policy in 2016, the Team has worked on 70,000 articles and conference papers and made 67,000 papers Open Access in UCL Discovery.

Catherine Sharp, Head of Open Access Services, says:

"REF has transformed Open Access in the UK, helping give research publications the widest possible exposure, and making Open Access a key part of the research lifecycle. UCL's Open Access Team has been privileged to work with academics, units of assessment and the REF Team on such a successful result for UCL."

Dr Paul Ayris, Pro-Vice-Provost for Library, Collections, Culture and Open Science said:

“UCL’s Open Access Team has performed beyond the call of duty in supporting UCL’s REF submission. Every Faculty I visit sings the praises of the team, highlighting their helpfulness and willingness to go beyond the call of duty. The team is a fantastic ambassador for Open Access and Open Science/Scholarship, contributing to the Library’s award of Customer Service Excellence.”

Key figures

Work of Open Access Team in numbers

  • 67,000 of papers made Open Access in UCL Discovery since 2016 and the launch of the REF Open Access policy. 

Breakdown of the outputs submitted to REF

  • 4,621 of 8,052 outputs in scope of REF Open Access policy.
  • 97.7% of in scope outputs were compliant or had a permitted policy exception.

Breakdown of compliant outputs submitted to REF

  • 82% were compliant.
  • 15.7% had a policy exception.
  • 2.3% were not compliant. Under the REF policy, universities could submit up to 5% of their in-scope outputs as non-compliant without penalty.