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Policy Guide
Open access research

In brief

'Open access' refers to unrestricted, online access to the published findings of research. In our role as a national funding body for research, we are committed to developing a successful approach to open-access publishing and increased public access to research findings.

What is HEFCE's position?

We believe that all research arising from HEFCE funding should be as widely and freely accessible as the available channels for dissemination will allow.

We believe this will:

  • enable the prompt and widespread dissemination of research findings
  • benefit both the efficiency of the research process and economic growth driven by publicly funded research
  • increase public understanding of research.

We are developing an approach to open access through the work that we do with the other UK funding bodies to assess the quality of research at UK higher education institutions.

We are now exploring how to make it a requirement that research outputs submitted to any research assessment exercise after 2014 be as widely accessible as possible.

Open access and research assessment

The four UK higher education funding bodies have consulted on proposals for the implementation of an open-access requirement in the post-2014 Research Excellence Framework.

Consultation events

We held several events in September and October to outline proposals in the consultation on open access. Presentation slides from these events are now available.

This consultation sought comments on proposed criteria for open access, the definition of the research outputs to which the criteria will apply, and the proposed approaches to allowing exceptions from the open-access requirement.

The consultation has now closed. We will be developing a final policy over the coming months, with a view to announcing it in Spring 2014

More on open access

'Open access' publishing aims to publish academic research electronically, immediately, without charge and free from copyright or licensing restrictions. 

Governments and research funders - nationally and internationally - have recently encouraged a move towards this level of access in scholarly publishing.

This has developed from a view that:

  • open-access publishing offers a financially viable alternative to the traditional publishing model
  • the freedom to access and use research outputs has considerable benefits for authors, researchers, funding bodies and the wider higher education sector.

This has led to discussion about how to make this happen and what effect it might have. But the principle of open access has wide support.

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