Library Services


The REF Open Access Policy

The REF open access policy requires researchers to deposit manuscripts of articles and proceedings in an open access repository within a specified timeframe. This makes them eligible for submission.

Open Access for REF 2029

UCL's submission to REF 2021 was completed in March 2021, and we are now in the publication period for REF 2029. A new open access policy is in development: details will be added to these pages when available. Research England have advised that the current policy should be followed in the meantime. Authors should continue to upload their accepted manuscripts according to the guidance below.

Scope of the policy

The REF 2021 Open Access Policy applies to journal articles and conference papers (published in titles with an International Standard Serial Number) accepted for publication from 1 April 2016. UCL authors must upload their final accepted manuscripts to UCL's Research Publications Service (RPS). See our What do I need to do? page to find out how to comply with the policy. 

Deadline for uploading

The final deadline for uploading manuscripts is 3 months after first online publication. From 1 April 2018, the policy requires manuscripts to be uploaded within 3 months of acceptance, having previously permitted a longer deadline of 3 months from first online publication date. However an exception now applies if papers are uploaded later than 3 months after acceptance, but within 3 months of first online publication. 

Journal embargoes 

Most journals require an embargo period on making the uploaded manuscript open access through UCL's repository, UCL Discovery. The maximum permitted periods are:

  • Panels A and B: 12 months
  • Panels C and D: 24 months

See REF Units of Assessment for more information.


In certain circumstances, a paper can be submitted to the REF even though it does not comply with the REF Open Access Policy. See our Exceptions page for details, or contact UCL's Open Access Team.