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Open access: frequently asked questions

If you can't find the answer you need, contact the Open Access Team.


REF open access policy

What if I don't have the final accepted manuscript?

You need to ask the corresponding author or your co-authors for the final accepted manuscript so that you can upload it. Alternatively, the journal may be able to provide you with a copy that you can use. If you have not been able to obtain the final accepted manuscript, contact the Open Access Team.

When asking non-UK authors for the final accepted manuscript you can use the following explanation:

UK research funders require UK authors to deposit their final accepted manuscripts in their institutional repository. The manuscript, which is version of the article that was peer-reviewed but without publisher's typesetting, will be made open access in UCL Discovery after the embargo period on open access, according to the publisher's policy. Meeting this requirement has a significant impact on future funding.

Can I include changes made in copy-editing?

The REF policy requires authors to upload their final accepted manuscript, after peer-review but before publisher copy-editing and typesetting.

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 a later version that can be made open access.

Whose responsibility is it to upload?

It is every UCL author's responsibility to make sure that the final accepted manuscript is uploaded to RPS. Where a paper is co-authored by several UCL researchers, only one of them needs to upload the paper to RPS. If a paper involves authors at more than one UK institution, the accepted manuscript must be uploaded to each institution's repository.

If your paper was uploaded to another institution's repository or a subject repository, but not to RPS, within the required period (see When should I upload to RPS?), it may be possible to demonstrate that it complies with the REF policy. Contact the Open Access Team, providing the URL of the paper in the other repository, to discuss this.

Can someone else upload my paper for me?

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 upload files to them, though the author must provide the final accepted manuscript. To set up a delegate, in RPS go to Menu, then in the My Account section go to Account Settings>Manage Delegates.

Where a paper is co-authored by several UCL researchers, only one of them needs to upload the paper to RPS.

I am a new member of staff. Do I need to upload my old papers?

No. Papers qualify for an exception from the REF open access requirement, and are eligible for submission to the REF, where:

  • when the paper was accepted, the author to whom the paper is attributed in the REF submission was employed at a UK HEI other than UCL, and it is not possible to determine (from any other repository) that it complies with the policy.
  • when the paper was submitted, the author to whom the paper is attributed in the REF submission was not employed at a UK HEI.
If I won't be at UCL at the time of the next REF. Do I still have to upload?

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.

I am a Post-Doctoral Research or Teaching Assistant/honorary staff. Why am I being reminded to upload?

Post-Doctoral Research and Teaching Assistants, and honorary staff, are encouraged to upload all their papers. Papers co-authored with other UCL researchers must be uploaded, because they need to be made eligible for REF submission. Post-Doctoral Research and Teaching Assistants, and honorary members of staff who co-author a paper with a full member of staff, will receive reminders to upload. Only one co-author needs to upload the final accepted manuscript.

The REF policy promotes open access for all outputs, and Units of Assessment can demonstrate their wider commitment to open access in their REF Environment statements. Uploading papers allows authors to take advantage of the benefits of making their research freely available, including increased citations and downloads.

Do I risk breaching my publisher's copyright conditions?

No. Uploading your accepted manuscript to RPS does not make it openly available automatically. After you upload, the Open Access Team will check the file and apply the relevant open access embargo period.

Publishers normally impose an embargo (delay) on making papers open access (this is set out in the terms and conditions/copyright transfer agreement you agree to when you publish), except where a fee is paid for Gold open access. The citation and abstract will appear in UCL Discovery after the Open Access Team has processed the file, but the accepted manuscript itself will only be made open access after the embargo period.

If you are uploading before publication, you can contact the Open Access Team to request that the citation and abstract are not made public until after publication - though publishers do not normally consider that making this information available in an open access repository breaches any publication embargo. 

Does the REF policy affect where I can publish?

The REF open access policy does not restrict authors' choice of the most appropriate journal for their output.

Most journals are compliant with the policy. Where a journal does not comply, because it does not allow open access in a repository within 12 months (REF panels A and B) or 24 months (REF panels C and D) of publication, or doesn't allow open access in a repository at all, the author is encouraged to consider publishing in an alternative journal. If the author still wishes to publish in the chosen 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 the required period (see When should I upload to RPS?).

If my paper is (or will be) published open access, should I still upload it?

If your paper is published as Gold open access - i.e. open access on the publisher's website - as soon as it is published, under a licence that permits copying and reuse, you do not need to upload it to RPS. The paper complies with the REF policy. Most Gold open access papers are published under a Creative Commons (CC) licence, which meets these requirements. If your paper is open access, but does not have a Creative Commons (CC) licence, you should upload the final accepted manuscript to RPS within the required period (see When should I upload to RPS?).

Accepted manuscripts deposited in other repositories (e.g. Europe PubMed Central or another institution's repository), either by authors or publishers, should be uploaded to RPS as well. If your paper was uploaded to another repository, but not to RPS, within the required period (see When should I upload to RPS?), it may be possible to demonstrate that it complies with the REF policy. Contact the Open Access Team, providing the URL of the paper in the other repository, to discuss this.  

Does putting my paper in a pre-print service, ResearchGate or another repository comply?

Unless your paper is published as Gold open access, the final accepted manuscript should be uploaded to RPS, even if the paper is available through a pre-print service (e.g. arXiv, bioRxiv, chemRxiv, medRxiv or SSRN). These services cannot be used to demonstrate compliance with the REF open access policy, because they do not usually identify the version that was uploaded. However, where a version identical to the accepted manuscript/final version was uploaded to a pre-print service before first online publication, the paper can be treated as compliant with the REF open access policy under a special provision in the policy. Contact the Open Access Team if this applies to any of your papers. 

If your funder requires open access in a subject repository such as 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. If your paper was uploaded to another institution's repository or a subject repository, but not to RPS, within the required period (see When should I upload to RPS?), it may be possible to demonstrate that it complies with the REF policy. Contact the Open Access Team, providing the URL of the paper in the other repository, to discuss this.

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.

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, with a licence that permits copying and reuse. 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 may not denote open access. It is often just an indication that the content is available through a UCL subscription.

Gold open access papers are normally labelled "open access", and usually contain a Creative Commons licence statement. See If my paper is (or will be) published open access, should I still upload it?". 

RPS and UCL Discovery

What types of research can be made available in UCL Discovery?

Many types of publication can be uploaded to RPS and made open access in UCL Discovery according to the publisher's terms and conditions, including articles and conference papers, books and book chapters, and outputs from conferences, workshops and meetings held at UCL or organised by UCL researchers.

Datasets, figures, posters, software, models and similar outputs should be deposited in the UCL Research Data Repository

Contact the Open Access Team for more information.

I can't log in to RPS. What should I do?

If you can't log in into other UCL sites (such as UCL Moodle) there may be problem with your UCL password. See MyAccount - managing your UCL password.

If your password is working on other UCL sites, please complete ISD's self-service form.

How do I change a publication type?

RPS identifies publications by type (eg. conference paper). In some cases, you might need to change the type (eg. from conference paper to conference abstract). The publication type appears at the top of the full record in RPS. You will see a small pencil icon next to the output type. Click on it, and you will be able to select a different type; then save your changes.

My publications aren't appearing in date order. How can this be fixed?

If a publication does not display in chronological order in RPS and IRIS, it is likely that the reporting date field in RPS is not populated. Click on the title of the publication in RPS to view its full record. If the reporting date field towards the top right is blank, click on the pencil icon to add the publication date, then save. The corresponding IRIS record will update overnight.

Can duplicate RPS records be merged?

If you create a basic record for a paper when it is accepted (see our guide Record a publication in your RPS profile), and a full record is later imported into RPS from an external database like Scopus or Web of Science, the two records should merge automatically. If this does not happen, contact the Open Access Team and we will merge the duplicate records for you.

Can I allow someone else to update my publications data?

You can give another member of UCL staff delegate rights to manage your RPS record.
To delegate, in RPS go to Menu>My Account>Account settings>Manage delegates. Enter the surname of your delegate, then select their name from the drop-down box that will appear. Click 'Enter', then 'Save'.

How do I get access as an administrator so that I can run reports and manage publications for my department?

Contact the Open Access Team to arrange this. 

Can I get publications lists and download statistics?

Publications lists can be exported from RPS and embedded in other webpages. These lists are chronological, based on the reporting date in RPS. If the date is incorrect or missing you can update it: see My publications aren't appearing in date order. How can this be fixed?

UCL Discovery shows download statistics by publication, measured by country, month and year. Contact the Open Access Team for more information.

How do I cite research found in UCL Discovery?

Cite the publication as it appears at the top of the UCL Discovery record, then indicate that it is available in UCL Discovery.

For example:

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 https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/18906/

To find the correct page numbers, consult the original version of the publication on the publisher's website.