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Open access and the UK Research Councils (UKRI)

If you are funded by the AHRC, BBSRC, EPSRC, ESRC, MRC, NERC or STFC, you must comply with the UK Research Councils' open access policy.

UKRI open access consultation

UKRI, including the UK Research Councils, is consulting on its proposed new open access policy, which will cover research articles, conference papers, monographs, book chapter and edited collections. The consultation has been extended until 29 May 2020 due to COVID-19. Please contact the Open Access Team if you would like to share any comments on the proposed policy.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has awarded institutions limited grants to cover Gold open access charges for research papers funded by the UK Research Councils.

From now until March 2021, funds are available for research papers in fully open access journals that charge a mandatory fee to publish (e.g. PLOS, BioMed Central and Frontiers journals, BMJ Open, Nature Communications, Scientific Reports) funded by a UK Research Council grant held at UCL, where the charge is incurred on or after 1 April (regardless of when the paper was submitted).

Authors of papers in traditional subscription journals should upload the manuscript version of their paper to RPS (and also, in the case of MRC-funded papers, Europe PubMed Central) no later than 3 months after first online publication. In general this option complies with the UKRI open access policy, however ‘hybrid’ Gold open access (where a one-off payment unlocks otherwise paywalled content) is available for:

  1. Research papers and uncommissioned reviews funded by a UCL UK Research Council grant where the publisher’s embargo on making the manuscript open access in a repository is longer than 6 months (MRC), 12 months (BBSRC, EPSRC, NERC, STFC) or 24 months (AHRC, ESRC). In practice, MRC-funded papers often cannot comply other than by payment.
  2. Research papers and uncommissioned reviews funded by a UCL UK Research Council grant in American Chemical Society subscription journals, under UCL's ACS deal.
  3. Research papers and uncommissioned reviews with a UCL corresponding author, regardless of funder, included in UCL’s transformative subscription deals with Wiley, Springer, Royal Society of Chemistry, Institute of Physics and a number of smaller publishers. To enable UKRI-funded papers to be published open access under these deals, UKRI-funded authors are encouraged, where appropriate, to act as corresponding author on a paper.

Authors should note that different payment arrangements apply for papers funded by grants at MRC units: contact your MRC unit manager for more information.

Publication charges (for instance page charges) may not be included in UK Research Council grant applications or paid from UK Research Council grants. UCL can, in certain circumstances, pay mandatory publication charges for Research Council-funded papers from its central UKRI open access grant. Colour charges cannot be paid.

For more information, or to request funding for Gold open access, complete this form and the Open Access Team will reply with a summary of your options and, if your paper is eligible for funding, details of payment procedures.

UKRI open access policy summary

UKRI is currently reviewing its open access policy. The current policy for UK Research Council-funded research papers is summarised below.

Policy scopeThe policy applies to peer-reviewed research articles and conference proceedings - this includes non-invited reviews
Licensing (Gold)The Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence is required for Gold open access
Embargoes (Green)

The publisher's Green option complies with the Councils' policy if the journal embargo period is no longer than

  • 6 months: MRC
  • 24 months: AHRC and ESRC
  • 12 months: all other Research Councils
Additional requirements

MRC-funded papers must be uploaded to Europe PubMed Central within six months of publication

Papers must include
  • An acknowledgement of Research Council funding
  • Details of how any underlying research materials, such as data, samples or models, can be accessed - see the policy for more