This page is meant to supply answers to some of the more commons questions that researchers and academic support staff have about Open Access in higher education.

If you have a question or concern that is not addressed below, please contact the research support/publications team at

There is also a wealth of information about open access available from public and government and charitable bodies that either fund or create policy on open access. Some especially valuable resources are: 

  • Sherpa REF - a new (still in beta) HEFCE funded service: search by journal title or ISSN to find out whether a journal in which you wish to publish (or have published in) allows you to comply with the REF requirements for open access to research. 
  • Sherpa ROMEO - a search tool for finding out the open access/archiving policies of journals and publishers.
  • HEFCE Open Access Research - contains information about open access, FAQs, and policy documents including the HEFCE OA policy, the Finch report on open access in HE, and the UK government's endorsement of its recommendations. 
  • JISC Open Access page - includes compliance tools and guides for researchers and administrators, as well as links to JISC resources such as:
  • RCUK Open Access - Research Councils UK page on OA policy, which includes a link to the RCUK policy and a FAQ section which addresses the OA responsibilities of RCUK grant recipients. 
  • Open Access at the Wellcome Trust - Wellcome Trust's open access policy and links to various guides and reports, as well as information about the Charity Open Access fund.
  • Creative Commons -  'Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools.' This site offers information on how to use CC licences to share your work openly under different conditions. 
  • Elsevier Open Access - information about your open access options if publishing in an Elsevier journal.
  • Wiley Open Access - information about Wiley's support for open access. The side menu includes a link to the self-archiving (green) open access policy

What is open access?

Open Access refers to material that is free to all readers at the point of use. There are two routes into Open Access - gold or green.

Gold Open Access is where the author makes their article Open Access in a journal, sometimes for a fee. This journal may be exclusively  Open Access, or it may have a mixture of Open Access and subscription-only articles.

Green Open Access is achieved when the author deposits the accepted manuscript of a published article into an institutional repository upon acceptance. This version must be free of the journal's formatting or layout - a word document for example, or a rich text format (RTF) document. Depending on the publisher's policies, this document can be made openly available on a repository after an embargo period (typically 12 months from publication). 

The RVC's repository can be found at  

Why should I make my work open access?

Open access research is more visible, more influential, and more open! Furthermore:

  • It is the responsibility of publicly funded researchers and institutions to make their research outputs available to the public. 
  • Most public and charitable funding bodies (e.g. RCUK, Wellcome Trust) require that the products of their research be made openly available. 
  • As of April 2016, only papers that are deposited on acceptance to an institutional repository are eligible for submission to the post-2014 REF. 

What am I expected to make open access?

HEFCE policy applies "only to journal articles and conference proceedings with an International Standard Serial Number. It will not apply to monographs, book chapters, other long-form publications, working papers, creative or practice-based research outputs, or data" (

RVC Research policy is to support 'green' OA at least for all journal articles and conference proceedings published by staff. However, some funding bodies require that any outputs that result from their funding be published 'gold' OA, meaning immediately upon publication for an additional Open Access fee. More information about funding policies, and the block funding available from specific funding bodies to cover Open Access costs, can be found here.

How can I find out if the journal I'm submitting to supports open access?

JISC maintains a number of OA compliance tools including Sherpa ROMEO, which allows you to search by journal title, ISSN, or publisher to find the copyright and archiving policies for most journals. 

If you have any questions about your rights and responsibilities as an author, please contact the research support team at

How do I find out my OA obligations to my funder/grant?

The RCUK open access site has a wealth of information on open access requirements related to RCUK funding, including an extensive FAQ section.

Sherpa JULIET is another JISC resource that allows you to search for OA policies by funder. 

I've just had a paper accepted, what now?

Congratulations! The first thing you need to do is to understand, and establish your route to open access compliance. There are two options, gold or green. For more information on the details and difference between them, please see the gold vs. green OA section of this site. 

Once you have taken this first step, the real steps start:

  1. Check your Open Access requirements. If the paper is the result/output of a grant, check with the your funder or grant supervisor to see whether your research output is attached to a grant that requires 'gold' open access for all papers or data that result form the funding. 
  2. Check the journal's policies. Do they offer a paid open access option? Do they allow you to deposit an accepted manuscript on an institutional repository (AKA do they support 'green' open access)? If the journal does not allow archiving in an institutional repository, contact research support to discuss your options. 
  3. Check your funding options. If your paper is the result of research funded by RCUK, or Wellcome Trust, there may be funding for covering APC fees available via block funding that is managed by the research office. Contact the research office to find out whether your paper is eligible to receive funding to publish 'gold' OA. 
  4. Notify the research office! If you are publishing 'gold' open access, just send word to the research office when you receive notice of publication. Pass along a DOI if possible. If you are going open access via the green route, make sure you...
  5. Send an Accepted Manuscript of your paper to upon acceptance! The accepted manuscript is the final, peer-reviewed paper, however it must be free of the publisher's formatting/typesetting/etc. A word document or rich text document (.rtf) is fine, along with any tables or figures.

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