Open Access Funder policies and requirements

In the UK there is a complex open access policy landscape which differs between Funders. The following is a summary of these different open access policies; where to find more information and available funding to assist researchers in meeting the open access policy requirements of their funder.

Research Excellence Framework 2021 (REF)

Requirement                                     Maximum Embargo Period       How Achieved and Funding                        
REF 2021 requires that from 1st April 2016 all journal articles and conference proceedings accepted for publication to be made open access. 12 months STEM
24 months HASS
Green open access within 3 months of acceptance.

UKRI Research Councils UK

Requirement Maximum embargo period    How achieved and funding
UKRI requires that all peer‐reviewed research and review articles normally published in academic journals or conference proceedings to be made open access. 6 months STEM
24 months HASS

Both green and gold open access is acceptable.

Block grant provided to the University of Leicester to  support payment of gold article processing charges (APCs). Funder eligibility and University allocation criteria apply.

Funding Councils

Science Technology Engineering and Medicine (STEM) 
Medical Research Council (MRC), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSCR), Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

Humanities Arts and Social Sciences (HASS)
Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

Wellcome Trust

Note that from 1st January 2021 the Wellcome Trust new Open Access policy will apply.

Requirement Maximum embargo period  How achieved and funding 

The Wellcome Trust requires that electronic copies of any research papers that have been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal are to be made available through PubMed Central (PMC) and Europe PubMed Central (Europe PMC) as soon as possible and no later than 6 months after publication.

Monographs and book chapters must be made available through PMC Bookshelf and Europe PMC with a maximum embargo of six months.

 6 months

Both green and gold open access is acceptable.

Block grant is provided to the University of Leicester to support payment of gold article processing charges (APCs). Funder eligibility and publishing requirements apply.

Additional funds are provided to the grant holder for monographs and book chapters directly from the Wellcome Trust.

Cancer Research UK

Requirement Maximum Embargo Period  How Achieved and Funding 
Cancer Research UK requires that an electronic copy of the final, published form of original primary article in a peer-reviewed journal is available on Europe PMC as soon as possible and no later than 6 months after publication.  6 months Block grant provided to the University of Leicester to support payment of gold article processing charges (APCs). Funder eligibility and publishing requirements apply.

British Heart Foundation

Requirement  Maximum embargo period  How achieved and funding
The British Heart Foundation requires that an electronic copy of each primary research paper or non-commissioned review funded wholly or in part by us is made freely available in Europe PMC as soon as possible and no later than 6 months after publication.  6 months Block grant provided to the University of Leicester to support payment of gold article processing charges (APCs). Funder eligibility and publishing requirements apply.

University of Leicester block grant

The block grant is awarded to the University of Leicester for publications acknowledging UKRI (RCUK); the Wellcome Trust; the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK. University of Leicester grant holders from these funders can apply for their gold open access fees.  

The UKRI (RCUK) block grant is allocated to fully open access journals; or hybrid journals where the embargo period is greater than that specified as compliant in the UKRI open access policy.

Versus Arthritis

Requirement Maximum embargo period How achieved and funding
Versus Arthritis requires that any articles accepted for publication that are wholly or partially funded by Versus Arthritis must be deposited in Europe PMC as soon as possible and no later than six months after publication.  6 months Authors requiring support to publish articles resulting from work funded by Versus Arthritis should apply directly via Grant Tracker if their host institution or another funder cannot meet the costs of APCs.

National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)

Requirement Maximum embargo period  How achieved and funding 

Department of Health and Social Care and NIHR require that NIHR funded researchers publish their main study findings in a peer-reviewed, open access journal using the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence. If this is not possible, then the authors must reconsider the appropriateness of the original publication and how to comply.

A copy of the final manuscript should be deposited with Europe PMC upon acceptance for publication, to be made freely available as soon as possible and in any event within six months of the journal publisher’s official date of final publication.

 6 months

It is expected that award holders will make provision from their funding award to cover the costs of publishing in an open access journal. If necessary, researchers may need to contact the awarding NIHR coordinating centre to discuss covering open access costs.

Recipients of NIHR funding prior to 1 April 2014 remain under the requirements of their original contract. It is recommended that these award holders contact the appropriate NIHR managing centre to discuss publication.