About open access

What is Open Access?

Open access refers to a means of distributing the outputs of research so that they can be accessed online without payment or other restrictions on access. Open access can apply to all forms of published research output, including academic journal articles, conference papers, theses, book chapters and monographs.

What are the benefits of open access?

Open access publications are available to anyone to download and read in full, without the need for personal or institutional subscriptions to journals. As well as the potential benefits for society, this can improve the research profile of authors, increase citations and help to promote the research of the university.

Do I need to make my publications open access?

Newcastle University encourages and supports open access as an invaluable way to maximise the visibility and impact of research. Open access is a requirement of research funders including the RCUK and the Wellcome Trust and is a criteria for REF eligibility.

Do I need to make my research data open as well?

The RCUK policy on Open Access requires "all research papers, if applicable, to include a statement on how underlying research materials, such as data, samples or models, can be accessed". However, the policy does not require that the data must be made open.

The Research Data Service can provide guidance on what to include in the data access statement, where to store the data, and under what conditions data may not be made open.

EPSRC funded researchers can deposit their research datasets in the University's pilot repository.

What is the difference between gold and green open access?

With gold open access, authors publish in a journal which provides immediate open access to articles on the publisher's website. This could be in an open access journal or a subscription journal offering gold open access to individual articles for which an article processing charge (APC) has been paid.

With green open access, authors publish article under journal subscription controls then archive the accepted manuscript in an institutional repository (ePrints) or subject repository. There is no charge for green open access. However, publishers may require an embargo period before manuscripts become open access.

Can I still choose which journals I want to publish in?

Yes you can. Most subscription-based journals allow for green open access and many also offer gold open access as an option. You can check the open access options for specific journals in Sherpa Romeo.

What is a Creative Commons licence?

Creative Commons licences are often applied to open access publications. They are intended to grant copyright permissions in a standardised manner that is clear to end users. Depending on the CC licence, these permissions may include the right to copy, distribute, remix and build upon works, even commercially, as long as credit is provided for the original creation.

The most commonly used Creative Commons licences are:

  • CC-BY – Attribution license
  • CC-BY-NC – Attribution, non-commercial license
  • CC-BY-NC-ND – Attribution, non-commercial, no derivatives license

Find out more at:

Open access for REF

Who is responsible for making the paper open access?

Authors are responsible for depositing the accepted manuscript in ePrints. Provided you do this within 3 months of acceptance for publication, the open access team will take care of everything else.

How do I know if a journal complies with the REF open access policy?

We recommend authors check with SHERPA/Romeo before submitting articles for publication. The open access team can advise if you have any concerns. However, the decision of where to publish is an academic one and it is ultimately the author's responsibility to judge whether this allows them to comply with the requirements for REF and those of their funder(s).

What if we publish in a journal that does not meet HEFCE requirements?

HEFCE estimate that 96% of outputs submitted to the last REF would be able to comply with the new policy. However, exceptions exist to allow REF submission where a journal is the "most appropriate publication for the output" but does not meet the policy requirements.

What version of a paper is required for REF?

HEFCE require deposit of the author's final, accepted manuscript. This is the version containing all academically necessary changes arising from peer review and the academic editorial process.

Although the published version of record and proofs would meet this requirement, journals do not typically allow these to be made open access in an institutional repository and so these are not REF-compliant versions.

Publishing process and manuscript versions

(Image by HEFCE. Dedicated to the public domain for open reuse.)

Do minor corrections necessitate a new deposit?

If corrections arise from peer-review and are academically necessary, then this would require a new deposit to represent the final, accepted manuscript. However, if the minor corrections arise only from copy-editing, then a new deposit is not required.

Should I deposit all my publications, even if I'm not sure that they will be REF candidates?

We recommend that authors deposit any publications that they may later wish to submit to the next REF. Publications not deposited may not be eligible for REF submission unless the case for a relevant exception can be demonstrated.

If an article is jointly authored, should each author deposit it in the repository?

If you wish a jointly authored paper to be considered as part of your REF submission, it is your responsibility to ensure a copy of the final peer-reviewed manuscript is deposited in our repository. Where deposits are made by multiple Newcastle authors, the Library will de-duplicate these to ensure there is a single, definitive record in the repository.

What if we don't learn that an article was accepted in time to deposit?

Where the individual being submitted to the REF was not responsible for corresponding with the publisher, HEFCE may allow this as an exception. However, they "expect authors to make their open-access responsibilities known to other authors at an early stage, including seeking joint agreement among UK authors about deposit arrangements."

For researchers joining the university from overseas, are their prior publications REF eligible?

Papers published by researchers employed at non-UK universities do not need to meet the REF open access requirements. When these staff join Newcastle University such papers can be included in our REF submission under a policy exception.

Do I need permisison to include 3rd party content in manuscripts for ePrints?

Yes. Where such rights have not been secured on acceptance, a deposit should be made without the 3rd party materials. This will not be made publically accessible. Once rights have been secured, an updated manuscript containing the 3rd party material should be deposited. If rights cannot be secured, then an access exception may apply (the requirement to deposit still applies).

Please note that the open access team will not review the content of manuscripts to check for copyright permissions for third party images and content. This responsibility remains with the author. Deposits reported as infringing copyright will be considered in light of our takedown policy.

Will depositing my manuscript for REF also meet the open access requirements of my funders?

Not necessarily. Some funders prefer immediate open access with no embargo or specify a relatively short maximum embargo period. This may require authors to choose the Gold route to open access or to ensure they select a journal which accommodates their funder requirments.

Are external repositories suitable for deposit?

The REF policy allows for deposit in institutional and subject repositories, but advises that authors are responsible for ensuring that any deposits made in subject repositories meet the policy requirements. As the university can only monitor and manage deposits made through MyImpact, we advise authors to deposit in MyImpact by default, with subject repositories being used as an additional venue.

ResearchGate and academia.edu are academic social/sharing networks. Publisher policies generally consider these to be commercial services and so restrict what can be uploaded to them. We do not recommend they are used for compliance with the REF open access requirements.

Green open access

What is Green open access?

With green open access, authors publish in any journal then self-archive the accepted manuscript in an institutional repository (ePrints) or subject repository. There is no charge for green open access. However, publishers usually require an embargo period (6-24 months) before manuscripts become open access.

Do publishers allow authors to make the accepted manuscript open access?

Most publishers allow authors to deposit accepted manuscripts in an institutional respository. However, the terms and conditions may vary. The open access team will check the terms of use for all publications uploaded to MyImpact before they are made publicly-available.

When I upload a manuscript to MyImpact will it become open access immediately?

No. We review all manuscripts uploaded through MyImpact and will apply any embargo required by the publisher before they become available in ePrints. Where possible, we will however make the article metadata available immediately in ePrints to allow discoverability.

Does the library check deposited papers for copyright issues?

The open access team verify that each paper uploaded to MyImpact complies with the publisher's open access policy. However, we do not review the content of manuscripts to check permissions for any third party images or content. This responsibility remains with the author.

How do I deposit a paper in PubMed Central?

If the publisher does not deposit papers in PubMed Central where required by funders (Wellcome Trust, MRC and BBSRC), authors will need to self-archive in Europe PubMed Central via Europe PubMed Central Plus.

Gold open access

What is gold open access?

With gold open access, authors publish in a journal which provides immediate open access to articles on the publisher's website. This could be in an open access journal or a subscription journal offering gold open access to individual articles for which an article processing charge (APC) has been paid.

Can I choose whether to go for Gold or Green open access?

Authors do not need to pay for Gold open access to meet the requirements for REF or those of most funders. While some funders such as the RCUK and Wellcome Trust favour Gold open access and provide funds to support this, they also allow for Green open access. The university supports authors with both the gold and green routes to open access.

What funds are available to pay for open access publication?

If you are funded by one of the UK Research Councils or a COAF charity, the University has received grant funding to support open access publishing.

Some other funders allow the cost of APCs to be claimed against their grants. If no funds are available, you should consult with your head of school/institute to discuss whether alternative funds may be available.

Can the university open access grants be used to pay page and colour charges?


The University Research Committee (URC) agreed that RCUK open access funds can no longer be used to pay page and colour charges. This decision was made to priortise the payment of open access fees (APCs) from limited RCUK grant funds.

Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Trust's open access funding can only be used to cover open access APCs incurred by authors, however researchers can use any flexible funding allowance provided on their trust grant to cover additional publication charges. In addition, applicants applying for certain grant schemes can include non-open access publication costs in their application.

Costing open access into grants

To ensure that funds are available to publish work through the Gold route, research projects should include £6,000 (where permitted by their funder) as a directly incurred cost at application. In cases where the project is of a very low value (under £10,000) and/or will not generate publications then the Grants & Contracts team can, in consultation with the Director of Research & Enterprise Services, permit a reduction.

Extracted from the Newcastle University statement on open access

What do authors publishing papers as Gold open access need to do for REF?

Articles that are Gold open access at publication are automatically eligible for REF. However, the university still strongly advise authors to deposit their accepted manuscript on acceptance, even where they plan to go Gold. This ensures the publication will meet the REF requirements should any issues arise in arranging Gold open access.

Where an open access payment is made by the library, we will upload the published version to ePrints. Where we discover papers that were made gold open access through other funds, we will also add these.

Can I make published papers Gold open access retrospectively?

Some publishers will accept requests for retrospectice open access. However, the RCUK and Wellcome Trust block grant funds generally cannot be used for this purpose and HEFCE do not wish for this to be used as a way to make publications REF eligible. Please contact the open access team to discuss issues with specific publications.

What if the journal I want to publish in does not offer Gold open access?

You can usually make your article available via Green open access by depositing the accepted version of your article in a repository. Some publishers, such as Nature, offer a PubMed Central deposition service. For advice about depositing your work in ePrints, Newcastle University's institutional repository, please contact openaccess@ncl.ac.uk

Do research funders check if papers are made Gold open access?

Yes. We submit annual reports on open access expenditure and compliance to the RCUK and COAF (Wellcome Trust). In recording data for these reports, we will liaise with publishers to ensure publications comply with relevant funder policies.