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Open Access and Depositing your Research: REF and you

What is the REF?

REF=Research Excellence Framework.

The REF is the system for assessing the quality of research in Higher Education Providers* (HEPs) in the UK. A periodic, peer-review exercise, it provides a profile of research quality in HEPs and the numbers of research-active staff they have submitted for assessment across 36 subject areas. For each submission by a HEP to a subject area, quality is assessed for three separate elements covering research outputs, impact and environment, which are combined into an overall quality profile for the submission.

* A Higher Education Provider (HEP) that is registered with the Office for Students (OfS) and receives Research England funding.

Post REF21

The REF 2021 publication period closed on 31 December 2020 but researchers should continue to comply with the requirements of the REF 2021 OA policy. 

Research England will launch a consultation on the future REF OA policy following the outcome of the UKRI OA review. The Research England Open Research page includes the following statement:

"The UK HE funding bodies recognise that due notice will be needed prior to implementation of the OA policy for the REF-after-REF 2021, which will be consulted on after UKRI's OA policy is announced. The OA policy for the REF-after-REF 2021 will not come into effect on 1 January 2021 (that is, at the beginning of the publication period for the REF-after-REF 2021 exercise). The REF 2021 OA policy should be followed until further notice."

REF 2021 guidelines

To be eligible for submission in REF 2021, journal articles and conference proceedings (with ISSN) accepted for publication after 1 April 2016 must be made open access.

 In practice, this means the outputs must be deposited in an institutional repository (BURO) or subject repository within a three-month period from the point of acceptance for publication.

REF 2021 website

REF 2021 FAQs


REF citation data provider

The UK’s four higher education (HE) funding bodies awarded Clarivate Analytics’ Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) a contract to provide Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 assessment panels with citation information.

Here is a useful video showing how to use the Web of Science core collection.

Eligibility for REF 2021

Depositing your manuscript in BRIAN, as soon as it is accepted, ensures that it will be eligible for submission to REF 2021.

REF policy requires that the full text of articles published in peer-reviewed journals, or conference papers with an ISSN, be made Open Access within three months of being accepted for publication. This may mean that manuscripts need to be put online before they are formally published.

The version to upload is the final accepted manuscript, after peer-review. This is generally before the publisher’s typesetting but camera ready and template versions may also acceptable.

The BURO Team will embargo these outputs, where appropriate, following publisher guidelines. The maximum embargo that can be applied to  open access REF outputs is 12 months for STEM subjects and 24 months for all other subjects. If a longer embargo is required by the publisher, then this will have to be dealt with as an exception.

Please contact the BURO Team with any queries.

How this affects you

Depositing in BRIAN for BURO

Take a look at the short video on depositing research in BURO through BRIAN.

This covers the various steps in the process and alerts you to what you need to get started.



Exceptions applicable in REF 2021

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