Guidance on UKRI’s Open Access Policy

How to comply with UKRI’s Open Access Policy.

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On 6th August 2021, UKRI released its new Open Access policy. Applicable to research publications that acknowledge funding from any of the UKRI councils, the changes in the policy aim to ensure that publicly funded research is freely accessible and licensed in such a way that it can be re-used and built upon.

Broadly speaking the policy covers:

  • Peer-reviewed research articles, including reviews and conference papers, submitted for publication on or after 1st April 2022.
  • Monographs, book chapters and edited collections published on or after 1st January 2024. Some trade books will be in scope where they are the only published output resulting from a UKRI-funded research grant.

For research articles, authors have two routes to compliance

Route 1: The research article must be published in a fully open access journal, with the Version of Record (final published version) being immediately free to view and download. Publication in a hybrid journal is only permissible under certain conditions – see section on Funding and Eligible Costs. A Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC-BY) must be applied.

Route 2: The research article may be published behind a paywall, in a subscription journal, but the Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM) or, if allowed by the publisher, the Version of Record, must be deposited in a subject repository or an institutional repository, such as the Discovery Research Portal, at the point of final publication. Embargoes are not permitted.

Additionally, for articles to be published under Route 2, the author must include, at the point of submission for publication, the following text in the funding acknowledgement section of the manuscript and in any cover letter accompanying the submission:  

‘For  the purpose of open access, the author  has  applied a  ‘Creative Commons Attribution (CC  BY)  licence  (where permitted by  UKRI, ‘Open Government  Licence’  or ‘Creative Commons  Attribution No-derivatives  (CC  BY-ND)  licence’  may  be stated instead)  to any  Author  Accepted Manuscript version arising’

Data Access Statements

Authors are required, in accordance with the commitments set out in the Concordat on Open Research Data, to always include a Data Access Statement. This requirement exists even where there are no data associated with an article, also where data cannot be made available for reasons of security, sensitivity or commercial constraints, or where the data used were not generated for the paper. More guidance on creating Data Access Statements.

Additional deposit requirements

For either  open  access  route, biomedical  research articles  that acknowledge MRC  or BBSRC  funding  are required to  be  archived in Europe PubMed Central, in accordance with MRC’s  Additional  Terms  and Conditions  and  BBSRC’s  Safeguarding Good Research  Policy.

For long-form outputs such as monographs, book chapters and edited collections.

The Version of Record or the AAM must be free to view and download via an online platform, publisher’s website, or repository such as the Discovery Research Portal, within a maximum of 12 months of publication. A Creative Commons Licence is required, preferably a CC-BY attribution licence.

Where the version made open access is the AAM, it should be clearly marked as such, with the preference that any supporting content (illustrations, images, tables) are included, with appropriate attribution and permission.

Exemptions for long form outputs.

UKRI recognises that not all publishers will be able to provide an open access option. In these instances, and only after ruling out other publishing options, an exemption may be requested.

In recognition that research resulting from training grants may not be published until some time after the training grant has ended, UKRI acknowledges that open access may not be achievable. However, it strongly encourages research organisations to support researchers to make such outputs open access.

Licence Exceptions

UKRI have confirmed that licence exceptions may be requested and will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

If the research article is subject to Crown Copyright, an Open Government Licence (OGL) can be used.

Third-party copyrighted material contained within the research article is not subject to the CC-BY requirement and therefore can be made available under a more restrictive licence.

Out of scope outputs. The policy is not applicable to:

  • conference abstracts
  • pre-prints
  • trade books (those that don’t meet the criteria for inclusion)
  • scholarly editions, defined as a critical evaluation of another authors works
  • exhibition catalogues
  • scholarly illustrated catalogues
  • textbooks
  • all types of fictional and creative works.

Funding and eligible costs

As in previous years, the UKRI Open Access block grant for APCs (article processing charges) will be managed by LLC Research Services. 

Funding for long-form outputs has yet to be allocated. In the interim period leading up to January 1st 2024, UKRI encourages the inclusion of open access costs in grant applications. Contact LLC Research Services for advice when putting in your UKRI grant application.

Eligible costs are the payment of APCs for publications in fully open access journals and platforms.

Costs that are not eligible for payment from the UKRI block grant are:

  • APCs for publications accepted by hybrid open access/subscription journals, unless the journal has been approved by JISC as part of a transitional agreement, or as meeting the sector requirements for transition to open access.
  • Publication charges such as page and colour charges.

What do I need to do if I am in receipt of UKRI funding?

From 1st April 2022, when considering the publication of research articles, reviews and conference proceedings authors will need to know if their chosen place of publication offers a suitable route to open access.

These online tools can help you to choose an appropriate journal. However, we strongly recommend contacting us using the details below prior to submission to ensure compliance.

The Funders and Authors Compliance Tool has been developed alongside a suite of other online resources to provide guidance as to whether a journal complies with a funder’s open access policy.

We strongly recommend contacting us using the details below prior to submission for publication to ensure compliance.


Before submission of manuscript to the publisher

  • Check to see if the publisher offers a compliant route to open access
  • Confirm with the Discovery Team
  • Inform the Discovery Team if you wish to request a licence exception

Submission of manuscript to the publisher

  • Include the Creative Commons statement in the Funder acknowledgement section of the manuscript, as required for route 2
  • Make sure you always have a data access statement

Acceptance by the publisher. Inform the Discovery Team and provide:

  • Proof of acceptance
  • The version of the research to be made open access i.e. either the Final Published Version or the Author Accepted Manuscript
  • Responses to additional queries about funders, grant numbers, accessibility of data and use of facilities.

 After acceptance, the Discovery Team will:

  • Create a record in Discovery
  • Upload the version of the research to be made open access
  • Process any APC payments

 After acceptance, you should, if funded by BBSRC or MRC:

What’s changed for me?

  • Articles must be made available immediately upon publication – embargoes are no longer permitted
  • A CC-BY licence must be applied to the Version of Record and the Author Accepted Manuscript (unless an exception is granted)
  • A Data Access Statement must be included
  • A Rights Management Statement must be included
  • Page and colour charges cannot be charged to the block grant