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The University of Bolton Library

REF: making your research open access

REF 2021 and Open Access - FAQs

The main principle of open access is that research should be free at the point of access via the Internet, and that access should not be dependent on institutional subscriptions.

It is a myth that article published in open access journals are of intrinsically low quality and are not academically credible. They are subjected to the same rigorous peer review as articles published in more ‘traditional’ journals. You can ensure further quality control by submitting to high impact journals.

Publish in an open access journal (Gold) or upload research to UBIR (Green).

Publishing in an open access journal usually involves paying a fee (APC - Article Processing Charge) and is known as the Gold route. This is sometimes thought of as the ideal OA publishing, however, the high cost of APCs can be prohibitive. APCs can be hundreds or even thousands of pounds. 

Uploading to a university repository like UBIR is free and is known as the Green route. If you are publishing in a traditional subscription journal, you can usually still make your article OA via the green route, although there may be restrictions on the version of your paper that is allowed and the full-text availability may be embargoed for a specified time - the UBIR team can advise on this.  

An Author Accepted Manuscript is an item of research (in this case, a journal article or conference paper) that has been accepted for publication and includes author-initiated changes and suggestions for editing that have arisen during the submission and peer-review process. It is not the published version and will not include copy-editing, published-added formatting such as branding and pagination assigned by the publisher.

The majority of publishers will allow you to upload your AAM to a repository such as UBIR. What publishers will often disallow, is the uploading of the published version, which means it’s really important to keep hold of your AAM. The UBIR team can advise on the permissible version for your chosen journal, 



 Typical content includes: journal articles, research data, book chapters, reports, conference proceedings, poetry, theses, images, teaching sessions. Other types of research output can be accommodated if possible, contact the UBIR Team for guidance,

To be compliant with REF submission guidelines, any papers submitted to the REF must be made available on open access basis, either by the green or gold route. UBIR provides compliance with the green route. To be eligible, papers must be deposited in UBIR within the following timeframes:

Outputs accepted for publication from the 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2018. The output must have been deposited no later than three months after the date of publication.

Outputs accepted for publication after the 1 April 2018, the output must have been deposited no later than three months after the date of acceptance.

This currently only applies to journal articles and conference papers, other outputs are not included in the OA requirements.

If your co-author is from another institution, we recommend that you still deposit in UBIR so that you are certain your OA requirements are fulfilled. UBIR also provides you with evidence of your research output, so it is good practice to deposit regardless of the REF submission. 

The UBIR team can help you with any aspect of submitting to UBIR. Email