Skip to main content

Open Access: FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions on Open Access/REF

Open Access Library Guide

Open Access FAQs

All Swansea University staff are expected to ensure that their published outputs align with the University Open Access policy and the requirements for submission to REF 2021. Many external funders also have open access requirements that exceed the REF policy which will apply to any research acknowledging funding.

We have extensive information, a REF checklist and links to policy documents on the Open Access Polices & Compliance tab on this guide. 

Research Funders' Open Access Requirements

Many funders require some form of open access - look out for policies when applying for grants. The details of their requirements may differ from the HEFCE or REF open access policy. If you don't comply with your funder's policy, your existing grant may be partially withheld, and you may not be eligible for future funding. 

Sherpa Juliet contains details of many, including quite a few medical charities. 

It is not usually necessary to pay. Most publishers allow the deposit of an accepted manuscript or postprint in an institutional repository, often with an embargo period. In some cases where you have funding you can pay the publisher to make your paper freely available straight away (gold open access).

  • At Swansea we have central money available if you are UKRI (RCUK) funded which you can apply for via our online APC application form. 
  • Please note that for UKRI (RCUK) funded research where you choose to use the green open access route (deposit of the final accepted manuscript in a repository, usually with an embargo) you must ensure that the licence places no restriction on non-commercial reuse, including non-commercial text-and data-mining. The licence should allow for the sharing of adaptations of the material. This means a CC-BY-NC licence, or equivalent is acceptable. A CC-BY-NC-ND licence is not compliant.
  • There are limited College budgets available to support REF eligible gold open access for unfunded research.

Further information here

In the majority of cases you should be able to use your usual journals. HEFCW / HEFCE say that their aim is not to dictate where people can publish and there are some cases where exceptions to the open access policy are allowed (see section 37 of the open access policy). However, you should make sure you are aware of a publisher's policies before you choose a journal. In a small number of cases it might be advisable to change.

If the journal's embargo period is longer than 12 months (REF panels A and B) or 24 months (REF panels C and D), or the journal does not allow open access at all, your paper will still be eligible for the REF provided you consider the journal the most appropriate publication for the work.

The Think, Check, Submit Tool helps researchers identify trusted journals for their research.

You can browse Journal Citation Reports

Further information is available on our Library Guide: Publishing and Research Impact


Single grant
This work was supported by [Funder] [grant number xxxxx].

Multiple grants
This work was supported by the [Funder 1] [grant numbers xxxx, yyyy]; [Funder 2] [grant number zzzz]; and [Funder 3] [grant number aaaa].

ERDF (European Regional Development Fund)
Example - We acknowledge the support of the Supercomputing Wales project, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) via Welsh Government.

Do you want to publish an Open Access journal? Publish with us

You can find out about the Swansea University Digital Press on our website. If you think this is for you then you can fill out a journal proposal form online and the Digital Humanities team will contact you to discuss it.

Pre-Print Servers
Preprint manuscripts are the Author's Original Manuscript (AOM) before journal peer-review. There are many online subject pre-print repositories which contain early versions of research articles. Some academic disciplines commonly use preprint repositories, e.g ArXiv, SocArXiv etc.
There is an extensive list on our Finding Open Access Content tab.

You can read more in this Knowledge Exchange Report
Accelerating Scholarly Communication. The transformative role of preprints.

If you are required by your funder to add a data statement to your paper you could include information in this format:

My paper contains data which are openly available

  • All research data supporting this publication are available within this publication.
  • Additional research data supporting this publication are available from [insert repository name] repository via [insert DOI].

My paper does not refer to underlying research data

  • All data underlying this study are cited in the references.

It is not possible to make my research data openly available

  • Due to ethical concerns, supporting data cannot be made openly available. Further information about the data and conditions for access are available from [insert repository name] repository via [insert DOI].

The publisher policy will specify which version you can upload. This could be:

  • Pre-print version: normally the author’s pre-review draft, accepted for publication but no peer review will have taken place. Most publishers allow archiving of pre-prints without restriction. 
  • Author's accepted manuscript (post-print) version: normally the final peer-reviewed article that has been accepted for publication but has not been formatted with the publisher’s final layout. Copyright and/or other publication rights are normally transferred to the publisher via a publishing agreement so you should check if you are permitted to archive this version. Self-archiving embargo periods may apply.
    The author's accepted manuscript document is required to comply with the REF open access policy.
  • Published version (version of record) incorporating the layout and typographical arrangement of the publisher and usually providing a link to the published pay-wall version. 
    You are not usually able to upload the publisher created PDF version unless you have permission from the publisher or you have paid an article processing charge fee to the journal for gold open access.

What if I don't have the final accepted version of the manuscript?

  • Contact the corresponding author or your co-authors so that you can upload a copy in good time.
  • ​Non-UK authors may need an explanation about the UK HEFCE/HEFCW requirement that UK authors are required to deposit the final accepted manuscript (AAM) in their institutional repository. The AAM, which is the version of the article that was peer reviewed but without the publisher's typesetting, will be made open access after a delay period specified by the publisher policy.
  • If you cannot obtain your final manuscript then we can apply a REF exception to your paper. Contact the Research Support team.

Conference contributions with an ISSN are within scope of the policy if the date of acceptance for the output is after 1 April 2016. 

In general if a conference proceeding is published with both an ISSN and an ISBN or in journals with an ISBN it is within scope, for example Lecture Notes in Computer Science.

The distinction between ISSNs and ISBNs is intended to separate two types of conferences:

  • (a - in-scope) conferences that publish online-only, journal-like series of proceedings (typically in the sciences)
  • (b - out of scope) conferences that publish books or book-like outputs (typically in the humanities).

Please see the HEFCE FAQ 2.4 definition for full details.

  • Check the self-archiving policy for the conference publication.
  • The REF policy applies to journal articles and conference proceedings but does not include abstracts and posters.
  • It is advised that you deposit the accepted manuscript for all conference proceedings in RIS. 

Uploading to RIS does not make your paper openly available unless you press the 'Publish to Cronfa' button.

A member of the Research Support team will usually double check the publisher terms and conditions using Sherpa Romeo and check that the applicable embargo period is applied to the journal output. The metadata description record will appear in Cronfa overnight but the full-text file is normally subject to the embargo period. 

  • Embargo periods are usually calculated from the first date of online publication.

Visit the Copyright Library Guide for help on copyright at Swansea University

We are able to claim an exception if an open access deposit would put the author or the institution at risk. 

Please contact the Library Research Support team if you require assistance.

Creative Commons (CCL) are pre-prepared licences that are intended to help copyright holders distribute their work; they define how the work can be used by others without the need to grant permission each time someone wants to use it.  There are various different types allowing for reuse, modification, commercial use etc. The Creative Commons web site has more information.

The licences contain four main elements:

  • Attribution (BY) - You must credit the licensor of the work.                
  • Non Commercial (NC) - You can only use the work for non-commercial purposes                
  • No Derivatives (ND) - You may not create adaptations of the work.                
  • Share alike (SA) - You may create adaptations of the work, but these must be under the same licence as this work.                

These elements then combine to form six licences plus a final CC Zero or public domain licence which purports to waive all rights to the material it is applied to:           

  • Attribution-Only (CC-BY)             
  • Attribution-No-Derivatives (CC-BY-ND)               
  • Attribution-Non-Commercial No–Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND)                
  • Attribution-Non-Commercial (CC-BY-NC)                
  • Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike (CC-BY-NC-SA)                
  • Attribution-Share Alike (CC-BY-SA)                
  • Public Domain (CC-0)

If your paper contains third-party content for which open access rights cannot be granted you have the option to upload the text on its own. However, the REF policy recognises that the third-party content may be essential to the publication, and allows an access exception in these circumstances. 

Please contact the Library Research Support team if you require assistance.

  • The accepted manuscript needs to be uploaded to RIS, even if the paper will also be made available through a subject repository like arXiv, bioRxiv, SSRN or Europe PubMed Central. The University Open Access Policy requires deposit in RIS & Cronfa.
  • Swansea University needs to demonstrate that the accepted manuscript was uploaded within 3 months of first online publication, and subject repositories do not record the required metadata information. Institutions may submit pre-prints as eligible outputs to REF 2021 where a pre-print version is the same as the author-accepted manuscript.
  • If your funder requires open access in Europe PubMed Central, and your paper is not Gold open access, you will need to upload your manuscript both to Europe PubMed Central* and to RIS.
    *Your College REF Officer will help you with this.
  • Social networking sites like ResearchGate and do not ensure long-term access to deposited publications. These sites are not open access repositories.

New members of staff should upload the final accepted manuscript (AAM) of all journal articles and conference papers accepted for publication after 1 April 2016. If you have previously uploaded your output to another institution's repository you can provide the URL details to the Library Research Support team. We can set an exception flag to demonstrate that the output is compliant in another repository.

It is important that all papers that fall under the REF policy are added to RIS so that they are eligible for submission regardless of where an author is based at the time of the next REF. Please add the output to RIS.

You can still submit your publications to the REF and you should upload the manuscript to RIS where possible. These outputs can be selected for the REF even if a file has not been uploaded. The Library Research Support team will assign an applicable exception flag to the output record if you were previously employed by a non-UK HEI institution.

Please contact the Library Research Support team if you require assistance.

All university staff producing publications are able to use the Research Information System (RIS) and the repository, Cronfa. You do not need to be on a research contract in order to populate our repository as we want to capture the rich diversity of outputs produced by the Colleges.

All types of publication can be uploaded and will be made open access according to the publisher's terms and conditions. This includes articles and conference papers, books and book chapters, and outputs from conferences, workshops and meetings held at, or organised by Swansea University staff.

Contact us for more information or go to our website.

Plan S is an initiative that hopes to make immediate, full Open Access a reality by 2021.

The plan is supported by cOAlition S, an international consortium of research funders. Plan S requires that, from 2021, scientific publications that result from research funded by public grants must be published in compliant Open Access journals or platforms.
Key Takeaway: Elimination of embargoes & use of open licensing

Plan S FAQs - Go to a list of the most common questions and answers concerning plan S and its implementation. 

“With effect from 2021, all scholarly publications on the results from research funded by public or private grants provided by
national, regional and international research councils and funding bodies, must be published in Open Access Journals, on Open Access Platforms, or made immediately available through Open Access Repositories without embargo.”

Click here to read more or view this article.

Johnson, Rob. 2019. “From Coalition to Commons: Plan S and the Future of Scholarly Communication”. Insights 32 (1): 5.


Publishing models for books are complex and at the moment there is no requirement to make books open access. 

If you would like to make a chapter from your book available you are welcome to put it in RIS/Cronfa if your publisher allows this. Author's are strongly encouraged to upload outputs outside the scope of the REF policy to increase citations and to provide greater research visibility. We usually ask Swansea University authors to provide their book chapter manuscripts for RIS.

Further information is also available on our Library Guide: Publishing and Research Impact or you can discover a selection of Guides for OA Monographs from the OAPEN website. The Knowledge Exchange report Towards a Roadmap for Open Access Monographs outlines key findings and recommendations for developing OA monograph policy, author engagement and technical infrastructure.

How do I make my PhD open access to comply with my funder or institutional OA requirements?
Full text PhD theses produced at Swansea University are provided in Cronfa, the institutional repository.
Please visit our E-Theses Library Guide for information on the Library mediated deposit service.

Compliance with the UK Research Councils’ (RCUK) policy on open access:
The UKRI (RCUK) document "Research Councils Training Grants Terms & Conditions"  Requirement TGC15 states that the institution must support RCUK funded Ph.D. students to publish the results of their research in the institution's repository as soon as possible after award. A full text version should be available within a maximum of 12 months following award.

Research Councils’ policies on research data require data generated or collected by research that supports published research findings (which could include e-theses) to be preserved and (where no commercial, ethical, or legal restrictions apply) made publicly available. Clarification on the EPSRC data access requirement can be found here. We can link your e-thesis record to your research data if you provide a URL.