FAQ – Open Access & next REF

Select the tabs below for FAQ referring to your specific role (e.g. DPhil or Funded Researcher)

    • Should I deposit if my article is being published ‘gold’ (immediate) open access?

      Yes please. Oxford researchers are asked to Act on Acceptance for all articles and deposit within 3 months of acceptance. You can deposit the final pdf if available within the timeframe; if not please deposit the AAM (Author Accepted Manuscript). The ORA team will ensure that the gold OA version is made available through the ORA record, once the article has been published.
    • Will the deposit meet the open access requirements of other funders as well as REF 2021?

      The REF 2021 policy sits alongside the open access policies of other funders; it does not supersede them. You still need to check and meet the requirements of your funder.
    • I am a Junior Research Fellow/Postdoc/ECR. Does Act on Acceptance apply to me?

      Yes. The Act on Acceptance message applies to all researchers across the collegiate University, including those who may not be employed here at the REF census date (e.g. postdoctoral researchers who may have moved on from Oxford, college-only researchers).

      Please deposit all journal articles accepted since 1 April 2016. If you don’t have a Symplectic account you can request one via the Symplectic website..

    • Do I need to deposit co-authored papers where the corresponding author is at another UK university or overseas?

      Yes please. Each institution is responsible for their own REF data gathering and submission. The University’s ‘Act on Acceptance’ policy asks for the deposit of all Oxford-affiliated articles into our institutional repository (ORA), to aid the discovery, dissemination and preservation of Oxford research.
    • Does each co-author have to upload? Should all Oxford authors of a manuscript individually deposit it?

      No. If Author A creates a record and deposits the AAM (Author Accepted Manuscript), their co-authors can simply Claim the record. They only need to upload a file if one hasn’t already been deposited.

        Here’s the procedure for co-authors:

      • Author A creates a record in Symplectic and deposits their manuscript; please include any Oxford co-authors when filling in the deposit form.
      • Author B searches for the article title, finds the record, `Claims’ it and checks to see if `This publication has been deposited’.

      It’s important to Claim the existing record rather than creating a new, duplicate record.

    • What about multiple Oxford authors? Can one author deposit the manuscript on behalf of the other Oxford authors?

      Yes. If Oxford Author A creates a record and deposits the AAM (Author Accepted Manuscript), their Oxford co-authors can simply Claim the record. They only need to upload a file if one hasn’t already been deposited.

        • To check if a file has already been deposited:

        • Search.
        • Claim.
        • Check the record:
          • If it says `This publication has been deposited’ – there is no need to deposit another version.
          • If it says `This publication has not been deposited’  – please deposit the Author Accepted Manuscript.
    • I am a new member of staff. Should I upload my previous papers?

      You are strongly encouraged, if practicable, to deposit into ORA the accepted manuscripts of any articles and conference papers that were accepted after 1st April 2016.
      ORA will also accept material that isn’t specifically for the REF, including datasets, grey literature, and reports. Further information about ORA deposits can be found here.
    • I am a retired Fellow / Emeritus Professor. Should I upload my papers?

      Yes please. Although the REF policy doesn’t apply to retired staff, the university’s Act on Acceptance message is for everyone, and ORA welcomes the deposit of all Oxford-affiliated papers (and other publication types).
    • Does the REF 2021 policy apply to DPhil students?

      No, the REF 2021 policy does not apply to research students. While DPhils may publish outputs that are later submitted to REF, those produced while the author was a student are exempt. They are covered by a policy exception, which excludes individuals not employed by a UK HEI at the time of submission for publication from the requirement to act.

      DPhil students are nevertheless asked to deposit their publications into ORA under the University’s OA policy. They may need to request a user account for Symplectic Elements to do so. Information about requesting new accounts can be found here.

    • Can somebody else deposit on my behalf in Symplectic? Can I deposit for someone else?

      Yes, a delegate (e.g. PA) can deposit on behalf of an academic, through the academic’s account. The PA first needs to get a Symplectic account of their own.
      To grant the necessary permissions the researcher then needs to:

      1. Log in to their own Symplectic account at https://oxris.ox.ac.uk.
      2. Click on the Menu tab. Under My Account, click on Manage Delegates.
      3. On the next screen use the box to add a delegate(s) to your account.
      4. Save.

      For more help please see ‘Adding a delegate and impersonating in Symplectic Elements’ in the Quick Reference section of the Symplectic User Guides.

    • I am a department OA Admin contact. Is there guidance on my role and tasks?

      The Open Access Project Group has produced an ‘FAQs for Open Access Contacts’ to support the Departmental OA Admin contacts in monitoring and follow up on engagement with the University’s Act on Acceptance policy. The guide is designed to supplement the REF policy FAQs on this page and is available on the divisional Act on Acceptance Engagement Report SharePoint site: ContEd | GLAM | Humanities | MPLS | MSD | SSD.
      It can be accessed by individuals on the Local Contacts list at http://openaccess.ox.ac.uk/contact-us/

The tabs below answer general FAQ about the subjects. Select the ‘X’ to close the tab.

    • What is the Open Access policy for REF 2021? What do I need to do?

      From 1 April 2016, journal articles & conference papers will only be eligible for submission to the next Research Excellence Framework if the Accepted Manuscript is deposited in an institutional or subject repository within 3 months of acceptance. From now on all Oxford academics and researchers (whether funded or unfunded) need to Act on Acceptance and deposit into our repository ORA via Symplectic Elements.

      REF 2021 covers publication dates between 1 January 2014 and 31 December 2020, but the open access policy only applies to articles accepted from 1 April 2016, meaning that older articles, and other publication types (books, chapters etc), are REF-eligible without need for deposit.

      Oxford researchers should create a Symplectic record for all publications, and deposit the accepted manuscript for any journal articles accepted since 1 April 2016.

      The final REF 2021 Open Access policy is included in the REF 2021 Guidance on submissions (31 Jan 2019). Paragraphs 105–114 (p. 26-27) cover Open Access policy intent; paragraphs 223–255 (p. 54-59) cover Open Access policy guidance. An open access guide will be produced by the REF team and published on the REF website: www.ref.ac.uk/guidance. See also previously published REF 2021 full OA policy and accompanying FAQ. There is information for Oxford researchers about the wider REF exercise on the University’s REF 2021 webpages.

    • Which version will actually be used during the REF assessment?

      The final published version.
    • What if I think that my publication will not be submitted to REF 2021?

      There is no way to know with certainty which publications may be needed for a future REF submission. Therefore researchers need to take individual and timely action for every journal article or conference proceeding that they produce.
    • What should I do about other exceptions to the REF 2021 policy?

      Please deposit as usual any article accepted since 1 April 2016. If for some reason you are unable to deposit within 3 months of acceptance, please inform your departmental OA Admin contact. A list of the local contacts is on the Act on Acceptance page.
    • Is there a simple explanation of the REF 2021 OA policy I can use when asking non-UK lead authors for AAMs?

      The following summary may be of use when contacting co-authors outside the UK who are unfamiliar with the REF to request a copy of the AAM:

      The UK government has an Open Access policy which requires university researchers to deposit their journal articles into their institutional repository. The version required is the final peer-reviewed manuscript (also known as the Author Accepted Manuscript). In the case of co-authored articles, UK authors are encouraged to request a copy from the lead author.

      An Accepted Manuscript is the final peer-reviewed version, before the publisher’s copy-editing, proof corrections, layout and typesetting.

      The policy aims to increase the amount of research publications which are available open access and is part of the UK’s Research Excellence Framework (‘REF 2021’), a national assessment of the quality and impact of university research whose results are used to allocate research funding.

    • What to do if a journal is non-compliant with REF2021 open access policy? Is there a list of non-compliant journals?

      Please `Act on Acceptance’ as usual and deposit the manuscript in ORA within 3 months of acceptance; if necessary it will remain a `closed’ deposit. It will need to be flagged as an exception; please notify your departmental OA Admin contact so that it can be recorded.
      Authors can therefore publish in non-compliant journals and remain eligible for the REF.

      Although this is permitted, note the policy encourages authors to `give serious consideration to their choice of publication venue’ in their FAQ on Exceptions. The Sherpa REF website is a useful tool for checking if a journal meets the REF OA requirements.

      Also, a list of non-compliant journals with REF 2021 policy (embargo too long, or don’t allow deposit) was created by the JISC Pathways to Open Access project.

    • How do I know whether my department is meeting the requirements of the policy?

      The Open Access Steering Group began monitoring readiness and numbers of deposit in October 2015. It has made reporting tools available to help departments and colleges to monitor and promote engagement locally. A list of local department/faculty OA contacts is on the Act on Acceptance page.
    • Do I have to pay an open access fee or APC for my work to be eligible for the REF?

      No. Deposit of the accepted version in an open access repository ensures eligibility; REF 2021 policy does not ask for the final published version. You can choose to publish in a gold open access journal if that is the most appropriate publication for you, but it is not a requirement for REF.
    • Which version of my work is the accepted manuscript?

      This is the final accepted version of the manuscript that is ready for publisher typesetting. You don’t usually have the right to deposit typeset or `publisher’ versions. What we’re looking for is the final ‘author version’ – the final revised typescript, before the publisher’s copy-editing, proof corrections, layout and typesetting. For more on this see the REF 2021 FAQ at http://www.hefce.ac.uk/rsrch/oa/FAQ/#deposit4.

      To help you identify the correct version and get hold of a copy, here are two useful guides by Open Access Button: Direct2AAM (Helping Authors Find Author Accepted Manuscripts) and versions explained (Pre-prints, post-prints, and publisher’s PDF explained).

    • What is the date of acceptance?

      This is the date when the output was `firmly’ accepted for publication (after all peer-review changes have been made and it is ready for publication), as opposed to any earlier ‘provisional’ or ‘conditional’ acceptance. It could be the date you, as author, considered you have been told by the editor of the acceptance of the paper even in an informal email. For more on this see the REF 2021 FAQ at http://www.hefce.ac.uk/rsrch/oa/FAQ/#deposit4.
    • What if I already deposit in a subject repository or preprint server?

      In order to ensure that a journal article complies with the REF OA policy, you should deposit the Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM) in ORA, even if you are also depositing in other repositories such as arXiv, bioRxiv, EuropePMC or SSRN. Other sites do not necessarily meet the metadata requirements of the policy (such as collecting date of acceptance, which is required as part of the REF submission) or the open access requirements (correct version deposited).

      If you are using a preprint server to make available early versions of a journal article (eg submitted version, before peer review), please make sure to deposit the AAM in ORA when it is accepted for publication, in order to ensure REF-eligibility.

      If you are posting an accepted manuscript on arXiv or other preprint server please label it as such, for example in the Comments or Notes (‘Accepted Manuscript’, ‘Accepted for publication in [Journal Title] on [date]’) if there isn’t a specific ‘version’ field.

      If your funder requires open access in Europe PMC, you will probably need to deposit the manuscript there yourself, unless your article is Gold open access (in which case the publisher should do it for you).

    • Can I deposit the publisher PDF (Version of Record) into ORA?

      Yes, if your article is being published ‘gold’ (immediate) open access. Please deposit within 3 months of acceptance. For other journals, probably not; normally copyright agreements for traditional subscription journals only allow deposit of author versions (such as the accepted manuscript) but not publisher versions (proofs, final pdf). Journals usually require a link to the final published version; the ORA team add this to the ORA record.
      Sherpa Romeo has a list of publishers which allow deposit of published PDF (note this includes fully OA publishers where a fee may need to be paid in order to publish and therefore deposit).
    • How do I add a Date of Acceptance to a Claimed record in Symplectic?

      When you ‘Claim’ a record, Symplectic doesn’t prompt you to enter a date of acceptance. To add one, go into the Symplectic record, and click on Edit record or Add manual record. Add the date of acceptance and click Save.

      There is also a step-by-step guide called ‘Add a date of acceptance to a claimed publication’ on the Symplectic help page at https://researchsupport.admin.ox.ac.uk/reporting/symplectic/help#collapse281156.

    • Will the deposit be in breach of my publisher’s copyright? When does it become visible?

      By doing this and adhering to the REF 2021 policy authors will not be in breach of their contracts. The Bodleian team will make sure you deposit the right version and abide by copyright. Depositing your manuscript into ORA doesn’t mean that it will be made open access immediately. The Libraries will check embargo periods and licenses. The manuscript will only be made openly available when it is permissible, if and when it complies with the requirements of the funder and/or publisher, e.g. 12 months after publication.
    • Should I deposit if my article is being published ‘gold’ (immediate) open access?

      Yes please. Oxford researchers are asked to Act on Acceptance for all articles and deposit within 3 months of acceptance. You can deposit the final pdf if available within the timeframe; if not please deposit the AAM (Author Accepted Manuscript). The ORA team will ensure that the gold OA version is made available through the ORA record, once the article has been published.
    • Where can I get help with Symplectic (getting an account or fixing a problem)?

      Those who are not given automatic Symplectic access (e.g. administrative staff, technical support staff, postgraduate research students, college-only researchers etc.) can now request accounts directly from the central Symplectic Helpdesk symplectic@admin.ox.ac.uk. For other help please visit the support pages on the Research Services Symplectic Elements website (https://researchsupport.admin.ox.ac.uk/reporting/symplectic) or contact your Departmental Symplectic administrator.
    • What do I do about my past papers (already published)?

      The REF 2021 covers publication dates between 1 January 2014 and 31 December 2020, but the open access policy only applies to articles accepted from 1 April 2016. There’s no requirement for previously published articles to be deposited in order to make them eligible for the REF, but if you want to deposit, ‘Claim’ the record in Symplectic and upload the manuscript if you wish.
    • Oops. I’ve just logged into my Symplectic Elements (SE) account and see that for one of my recent publications (accepted after 1 April 2016) I forgot to `Act on Acceptance.’ The article has appeared online on the journal’s website. What can I do to ensure that my publication will be eligible for the next REF?

      Please upload the Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM) within 3 months of publication. First claim it in your SE account and then edit the record to add the date of acceptance before attaching the AAM. Successful deposit relies on you ensuring the following workflow:

      1. “Claim” the publication.
      2. “Create manual record”.
      3. THEN attach the AAM.

      In future, to ensure your research output remains eligible for the REF you should adhere to the University’s `Act on Acceptance’ policy.

    • How do I update a previous deposit, eg replace an uploaded manuscript with a newer version?

      To deposit a new file: go to the publication record on Symplectic and click on the ‘View deposit’ symbol. This takes you to the Deposit Page where there is a link to `+Upload another file’.
      Use this link to deposit the new file. DO NOT delete the old file (ie DON’T click the X on the right of the old file).

      The ORA team will ensure the new file is made available in ORA instead of the old one. (They also contact authors direct when they notice an incorrect version has been deposited, and request the correct file be sent by email in reply to the ORA query.)

    • When I click on the file link in Symplectic Elements (SE) nothing happens – how can I view the file I uploaded?

      When you upload a file in SE, the file transfers immediately to the Oxford University Research Archive (ORA, http://ora.ox.ac.uk/). Files are not stored in SE, they are stored within ORA. The link in SE does not currently resolve to an accessible area of the research archive, so when selecting the link the webpage returns blank.
      On deposit of your file, a record for your work is automatically created in ORA (containing the details you entered in the deposit form – title, author, journal title etc.), but it is not publicly visible at this point. The file is also hidden as it transfers to ORA under embargo. ORA review staff receive notification of the deposit and review the deposit details including confirming the correct file version has been deposited (AAM not Publisher PDF).

      Once the deposit has been reviewed, ORA review staff release the ORA record, and send you the link to it and/or contact you with any query arising from deposit – which may include questions over the version of full text. Please wait for their confirmation email.

      If you have a query regarding a deposited file, contact ora@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

    • Do I need to deposit my book chapters and books for them to be eligible for the REF 2021?

      No. Books/book chapters do not have to be Open Access in order to qualify for the REF and they do not have to be deposited into ORA. However the University’s OA policy asks researchers to create a record in Symplectic for all publications, and add full text if permitted.
    • If I want to deposit my book chapters/books, what should I do?

      If you wish to deposit your book chapters/books into ORA, or simply create a record for them, please use Symplectic.
      How to add a book chapter to Symplectic:
      On your Symplectic `homepage’ there is a box called My Summary.

      1.Click on + add and select chapter.
      2.Fill in the Add Chapter form.

      This will create a record (which gets sent to ORA). You can also deposit the file if you want, but you could just create a record.

    • My paper has not yet been published but is available on ORA. Can I request an embargo on a manuscript I am depositing?

      No. It is our policy to make deposits available as soon as the publisher permits. If no embargo is required by them (or if there is no other restriction such as press embargo) ORA will release the full text immediately, at the point of deposit rather than publication. A number of publishers have a zero embargo.
      The ORA confirmation email informs the depositor if the full text has been released. The ORA record makes clear the publication status of the article (to indicate that it is at the stage of `Accepted’ rather than `Published’).

      REF 2021 policy says that once made available the full text should remain so.

    • Can a link be added to the ORA version to point to the final published version?

      Yes. This is part of the standard ORA record – once the article has been published, a link to the publisher website is added by the ORA staff.
    • What is the timing of Open Access release in ORA of articles with no embargo? What about press (metadata) embargoes?

      If the publisher permits, ORA releases the bibliographic record (including abstract) and full text file at the point of deposit, not publication.
      REF 2021 OA policy states: `For outputs deposited with no embargo. The output must meet the access requirements as soon as possible and no later than one month after deposit.’ Press embargoes are imposed by some journals (preventing pre-publication release of particular metadata, which may include the abstract). They can be difficult to ascertain in the absence of a master list, but the ORA team will not release before publication details of articles they know to be under press embargo.If you know there is a press or metadata embargo on your article, please provide information in the Comments box at the end of the deposit form. Please remember to select `Deposit my publication’ to complete the deposit.The ORA record does not appear automatically after deposit into Symplectic Elements. It is only made visible after the ORA team have reviewed the deposit. If a record or file is inadvertently released prematurely, the ORA team will remove it once notified (this is standard `takedown’ practice). Contact the ORA team at ora@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.
    • What happens after I have deposited my Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM)?

      After deposit:

      There is no automatic notification email of a successful deposit to the Oxford University Research Archive (ORA, http://ora.ox.ac.uk/). On deposit of your AAM to ORA via Symplectic Elements, a record for your work is automatically created in the repository, containing the details you entered in the deposit form (title, author, journal title etc.). It is not publicly visible at this point. Nor is the full text, which transfers to ORA under embargo. ORA review staff receive notification of the deposit and review the deposit details including:

      • Confirm the correct file version has been deposited (AAM not Publisher PDF),
      • Check and enhance bibliographic details (adding abstract, key words, additional author information, links to the publisher website, publisher statement, and more),
      • Check funder information (correctly acknowledged and policy with regards to embargo periods),
      • Check publisher information (self-archiving details, OA (open access) policy and embargo requirements),
      • Check REF 2021 OA policy information (embargo policies meet REF expectations),
      • Pass Article Processing Charge (APC) requests onto the APC team (other responsibilities with regards to funders, APCs and Creative Commons licensing are not dealt with by the ORA team).

      Once the deposit has been reviewed, ORA staff release the ORA record, and send you the link and/or contact you with any query arising from deposit. Please wait for their confirmation email.

      After publication:

      ORA review staff will apply the embargo period given in the publisher policy to the deposited AAM from the date of publication. The version permitted to be OA under the publisher’s self-archiving policy will be released at the end of this embargo period. If your work has been published OA (i.e. you have paid an APC) and the publisher PDF can be used, ORA review staff will download this from the publisher website and release the file in ORA – the AAM should however still be the version deposited. At the end of the embargo period, ORA review staff will enhance the ORA record with any further information resulting from publication (page numbers, journal volume/issue details, DOI, etc.). If there is no embargo the full-text will be released at the point of deposit.
      ORA review staff will not contact you again at the end of the embargo period, the file will be released at the URL provided at first review.
      For queries regarding a deposited AAM, contact ora@bodleian.ox.ac.uk

    • When do the ORA team send an email confirming deposit? Who do they send it to?

      Once the deposit has been processed and the ORA record made publicly available, the ORA staff email the depositor with the link, to confirm successful deposit or with a query arising from deposit. Please wait for their confirmation email.

       Reasons why an academic may not receive the email about an ORA record for their article:

      1. The academic was not the depositor. Only the depositor is notified (e.g. an administrator/PA has been tasked with depositing the academic’s submissions and will receive the emails).
      2. A co-author has already deposited the item (in which case they will receive the email.)
      3. The ORA email has ended up in a junk or trash folder.

       If you have deposited an article or conference paper accepted for publication after April 1st 2016 and the above categories do not apply please contact the ORA team at ora@bodleian.ox.ac.uk with any concerns.