Research Repository

Guide to Open Access

What is Open Access?

Open Access publications are digital, online, free of charge and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. It is entirely compatible with peer review, all of the major Open Access initiatives for scientific and scholarly literature insist on its importance.

The ways that UK academics communicate their research are changing rapidly. Open Access has been around for some time. However, the new funding body requirements that research must be made available in an Open Access format means that researchers need to consider what this means for their research as a matter of urgency.

University Policy

The University of Essex publications policy approved by Senate in July 2015 is that all publications are uploaded via the Research Information System (RIS) to the University of Essex Research Repository (IR) and, where possible, made open access. We encourage the deposit of the accepted version as soon as possible. Journal articles and conference papers must be deposited within three months of acceptance to be eligible for REF2021.

Routes to Open Access publishing

There are two main routes to making your research Open Access.

Green Open Access

You make your work available in a repository, which can be an institutional repository (such as our Research Repository) or a subject-based or central repository (such as PubMed Central or arXiv). Upon acceptance for publication, you deposit your accepted author manuscript into an Open Access repository. This will usually be the final pre-publication version - the peer-reviewed, accepted manuscript. It is made Open Access without the payment of any fee to the publisher but may not be available as Open Access immediately if the publisher's self-archiving policy requires an embargo period. The published version of the paper will be made available by the publisher, behind a subscription paywall.

Gold Open Access

Your work is made freely available to readers through the publisher's website. No subscription is required for access as a fee called an APC (article processing charge) is usually charged to you. The version made available is the final publisher's version and it is available immediately, with no embargo period.

If you would like to make your work available using gold Open Access, you will need to have access to appropriate funding. APCs vary considerably between publishers, but will usually cost £1,500 - £2,000 plus VAT. If your research is funded by RCUK, we may be able to pay the APC for you through our allocation from the RCUK Open Access Fund (.pdf).

Open Access in the UK

In June 2012 the Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings, chaired by Dame Janet Finch, recommended in their Report (.pdf, known as the Finch Report) that ’the UK should embrace the transition to open access, and accelerate the process in a measured way which promotes innovation but also what is most valuable in the research communications ecosystem‘. The ultimate aim is to make all publicly-funded research publicly-accessible for free. The Government's response (.pdf) was to accept the recommendations made and welcome the push to Open Access.

RCUK policy on Open Access

Since 1 April 2013 the RCUK Policy (.pdf) on Open Access has applied to research papers funded by Research Councils UK. The policy applies to journal articles and conference proceedings but does not apply to books or chapters. It requires all peer-reviewed research outputs that result directly from research wholly, or partly, funded by Research Councils to be made Open Access in journals that are compliant with the RCUK Policy on Open Access. Compliant journals are those that allow either Green or Gold Open Access. The RCUK Policy on Open Access also requires that research papers must acknowledge Research Council funding.

Wellcome Trust and Open Access

The Wellcome Trust supports open and unrestricted access to the published outputs of research and expects authors of research papers funded by the Trust to make their results freely available and provides additional funding to grant holders with to cover Open Access fees. Electronic copies of research papers supported by Wellcome Trust funding will also be made available through PubMed Central (PMC) and Europe PubMed Central (Europe PMC). Unlike the RCUK policy, The Wellcome Trust is currently extending its Open Access Policy to include scholarly monographs and book chapters.

Open Access, HEFCE and the next REF

HEFCE announced a new policy on Open Access in the post-2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) in March 2014.

The policy states that journal articles and conference proceedings mustbe available via Open Access to be eligible for the post-2014 REF. This means that outputs must be deposited in an institutional repository, like the University of Essex Research Repository, at the point of acceptance for publication.

The policy applies to journal articles and conference proceedings that are accepted for publication after April 2016. The output must be deposited in a repository within three months of acceptance. Embargo periods and exceptions will apply where necessary.

Update In July 2015 HEFCE issued an amendment to the policy stating that research outputs accepted for publication from 1 April onwards can be deposited in a repository at any point between acceptance and up to three months after the date of publication. From 1 April 2017 onwards research outputs must be deposited within three months of acceptance.

What do I need to do?

For further information and advice about Open Access publishing, and to apply for funding from our allocation from the RCUK Open Access Fund please contact

You can upload your publications to the University of Essex Research Repository. A member of the team will check the item and any copyright permissions and will make the record live in the database.

Alternatively you can email details of your research output to, together with the final accepted manuscript as this is the version most publishers allow to be deposited in Open Access repositories.

Contact us

For more information about the Institutional Repository or Open Access, please contact Jim Jamieson.