In August 2021 UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) announced its future policy regarding Open Access publishing. UKRI is the overarching body responsible for government research strategy and funding for universities in the UK. It brings together the seven disciplinary research councils, including the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) — along with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) — with which many historians will be most familiar as a source of PhD and grant funding.
Last August the RHS published a ‘first response’ to the policy, written by historians with detailed understanding of the impact and implications of Open Access in the humanities. If you’re new to the subject, we recommend you start by reading the August 2021 post, and then continue to this latest contribution.
April 2022 sees the first key date when new UKRI rules come into effect: relating to the accessibility of journal articles based on research funded by AHRC grants, excluding PhD funding. As the start of the new policy nears, UKRI has published its own guidelines for what this means for researchers.
Of course, within the Humanities specific disciplines also often have their own requirements and questions. The following post offers a Q&A for historians to explain the changes which take effect from 1 April 2022, and those concerning monographs which come into effect for titles published from January 2024. This advice will be updated regularly, as and when UKRI’s own policy is clarified.
As Open Access publishing involves terms and concepts at best hazy to many, the post begins with a glossary of terms you’ll encounter in the Q&A section.
Glossary of terms relating to Open Access publishing
AAM (Author Accepted Manuscript): the version of a scholarly article that has been accepted for publication by a journal but has not yet been copy-edited or formatted by the journal or its publisher.
APC (Article Processing Charge): A fee charged by some journals to enable the Version of Record (see below) to be published with full and immediate OA.
BPC (Book Processing Charge): A similar charge for an OA monograph.
CC BY: a Creative Commons licence that stipulates ‘Licensees may copy, distribute, display and perform the work and make derivative works and remixes based on it only if they give the author or licensor the credits (attribution) in the manner specified by these.’
CC BY-NC: A Creative Commons licence by which ‘Licensees may copy, distribute, display, and perform the work and make derivative works and remixes based on it only for noncommercial purposes.’
CC BY-ND: a Creative Commons licence by which ‘Licensees may copy, distribute, display and perform only verbatim copies of the work, not derivative works and remixes based on it.’
Edited collection: a multi-author collection of chapters published as a book, rather than a journal special issue or a volume of conference proceedings. Book-form edited collections may be derived from conferences. Edited collections are governed by the OA policy for long-form publications.
Embargo: the period between publication of the Version of Record of an article and publication/release of an Author Accepted Manuscript deposited in a repository. Zero embargo: typically refers to the OA publication/release of the self-archived AAM simultaneously with the publication of the VoR (with the VoR typically remaining behind a paywall, for an interval or indefinitely).
Gold: ‘Gold’ OA refers to article content that has been published OA immediately in its Version of Record format. Typically, ‘Gold’ OA requires payment of an APC – or, in the case of monographs, a BPC. Sometimes, when the journal is independently supported, usually by an academic institution, no APCs are charged (this is also known as ‘Platinum’ OA.)
Green: ‘Green’ OA (also known as ‘Self-archiving’ or ‘self-deposit’) is deposit by an author of the Author Accepted Manuscript of a scholarly output in an OA repository (see Repository below). Access to a repository may be determined by an embargo period following publication.
HEI: Higher Education Institution, that is to say Universities and similar institutions.
Hybrid: a hybrid journal is a subscription-based journal that publishes content behind a paywall, but also allows open access publication as an option for authors of specific articles, typically requiring an APC to be paid in such cases. Currently, some 85% of all journals are hybrid.
Jisc: a not-for-profit independent organisation which promotes digital solutions for research and education. It now has a role in negotiating OA content access agreements for UK HEIs.
Monograph: a long-form publication which communicates an original contribution to academic scholarship on one topic or theme and is designed for a primarily academic audience; an academic monograph may be written by one or more authors.
OA (Open Access): OA publication entails access to digital versions of scholarly articles and books that is freely available to the reader without payment of a subscription or other access fee.
Repository: an online repository, typically funded and maintained by a university or other research organisation (or, in the case of the Wellcome Trust, by a funder) that is designed to hold and give access to research outputs. Some content in repositories is made available by full and immediate OA. Other content is held for a period or indefinitely under an embargo.
Research Organisation: the Higher Education Institution (University/College) or other body which supports you and/or your research.
Route 1 and Route 2: the terminology in the UKRI policy for, respectively, ‘Gold’ and ‘Green’ OA. UKRI’s rules for Route 2 however require the publication of the AAM with no embargo period.
Transitional agreement: typically, a financial agreement between a publisher and a Research Organisation, signed off by Jisc, that a journal (or set of journals) published by that publisher will henceforth allow members of that Organisation to publish OA in the journals(s) without paying an APC. UKRI will only consider publication of the VoR in a hybrid journal to be in line with its policy if it is via a transitional agreement.
UKRI (UK Research & Innovation): The overarching body responsible for government research strategy and funding for universities (among other research organisations) in the UK.
VoR (Version of Record): The official version of a research output (for example, a scholarly article). Typically, the VoR has been copy-edited, corrected, typeset, proofed by the publisher and author and published in a format that allows future citation, with stable pagination.
See also the definitions contained in the policy itself in Annex 1. UKRI Open Access Policy: explanation of policy changes – UKRI is an important guide to the arguments behind the new policy; Shaping our open access policy – UKRI is a guide, regularly updated, to how the policy will work out in practice.
Questions & Answers
SECTION 1. WHERE TO PUBLISH?
1. If my research has been funded by a UKRI Research Council, are there restrictions on which journals I can publish in?
You may publish, by Route 1 or Route 2, in any journal you choose. But UKRI will not pay an APC for Route 1 (‘Gold’ OA) in a hybrid journal. If you wish to make the Version of Record of your article in a hybrid journal Open Access, then it must be in a journal which has made a transitional agreement with your Research Organisation – unless you have found other sources of funding to pay the necessary APC. If none of these conditions has been met, then you can still publish the Author Accepted Manuscript by Route 2 (‘Green’ OA with zero embargo), as long as the journal and/or its publisher allows it.
2. How many journals will allow me to publish by Route 2, and how can I find out whether they do?
We expect UK journals to make this clear on their websites, and many non-UK journals, if published by major publishers, will do the same. Most, but not all, major publishers allow Route 2. If they do not make their policies clear, you will have to ask them directly; we suggest that you do this before you submit the article for peer review.
3. Why are transitional agreements necessary?
The hybrid charging models that emerged following the publication of the RCUK Policy on Open Access have been inflationary, with unsustainable increases in subscription costs and article processing charges. Assuming dominance of hybrid charging models, our independent economic analysis predicted an increase of £200 million per year for the UK publishing sector, that is, a doubling of the current UK publication charges. However, the landscape of research publishing in the UK has changed dramatically within the interval of our review, with an increasing number of transitional agreements being negotiated and agreed between higher education institutions and publishers.
Transitional agreements provide researchers a route to UKRI policy-compliant open access publication in hybrid journals that are part of these agreements, as well as access to their non-open access content. Transitional agreements offset the cost of accessing non-open access articles against charges for publishing articles open access, with the consequence that these agreements provide full open access with only a modest increase in costs. Journals that between 2017 and 2020 published 51% of UKRI-funded articles are now subject to these agreements. And in 2021 UK transitional agreements provided more than 16,000 open access publications. At the point the policy will apply in April 2022, UKRI expects transitional agreements will have increased to cover the great majority of UKRI-funded articles published in hybrid journals. We consider the take-up of transitional agreements to be important to achieving affordability and we anticipate that the policy will only result in modest cost increases.
4. How can I find out if a journal has made a transitional agreement with my Research Organisation?
UKRI will provide an online tool by the start date, to make it easy to check whether a journal offers a compliant open access route. Until it does, you should ask your Library, and/or the journal concerned.
5. Which publications resulting from my AHRC grant are covered by UKRI’s OA policy?
The planned publications which were listed as part of the grant application, plus those others which acknowledge the funded support received from AHRC.
SECTION 2: PAYING FOR OPEN ACCESS PUBLISHING
6. Do I ask for money for APCs as part of my grant application?
No, APCs are accessed separately, see below. UKRI envisages that transitional agreements will substantially reduce the need for APCs (although not, at this stage, BPCs). APCs will henceforth be available only for publication in the relatively small numbers of fully-OA journals.
7. How do I access an APC for my article in a journal?
You can access money for APCs via your Research Organisation’s Block Grant from UKRI (see for 2021-22 UKRI-210721-BlockGrantAwards2021-22-1.pdf). Usually, inside each organisation, the Library administers Block Grant money.
8. My Research Organisation does not have access to UKRI’s Block Grant, or has run out of money for APCs. What do I do?
You can still publish OA in journals which have transitional agreements with your Organisation, or else deposit by Route 2, if the journal and/or its publisher agrees.
9. My Research Organisation does not have a transitional agreement which covers the journal I wish to publish in. What do I do?
You can still deposit by Route 2, if the journal and/or its publisher agrees; the alternative is to find another journal.
10. My Research Organisation has no transitional agreements with publishers. What do I do?
You can still deposit by Route 2, if the journal and/or its publisher agrees.
11. I do not have access to APCs, and the journal I wish to publish in does not have a transitional agreement with my Research Organisation, and will not allow Green (Route 2) self-archiving. What do I do?
You cannot in this case publish in that journal, and you must find another.
SECTION 3: PUBLISHING OVERSEAS, REPOSITORIES & COLLABORATIVE WORKING
12. I wish to publish in a journal abroad, which is not in the remit of Jisc’s transitional agreements. What do I do?
You can still deposit by Route 2, if the journal and/or its publisher agrees; the alternative is to find another journal.
13. The journal I wish to publish in has no OA programme, or is not available in electronic format at all. What do I do?
You can still deposit by Route 2, if the journal and/or its publisher agrees. You may also find that the journal and/or its publisher in this case will allow you to publish the Version of Record by Route 2. The alternative is to find another journal.
14. Are publications in foreign languages in scope of the policy?
Yes, if they acknowledge AHRC funding.
15. My Research Organisation has no repository, or its repository does not meet UKRI’s technical standards. What do I do?
You can deposit your article, monograph or book chapter in the repository of your discipline, if it has one, or else on the publisher’s website, if the publisher allows it. Suitable repositories are in addition listed in the Directory of Open Access Repositories at OpenDOAR | Jisc. If there remain problems here, consult AHRC, which will be able to advise you as to where to deposit it.
16. Is academia.edu, or researchgate, an acceptable repository?
No. Repositories must be registered in the Directory of Open Access Repositories (see the previous question).
17. My co-author does not wish to publish OA. What do I do?
If the article acknowledges AHRC funding, it has to be published OA; you need to warn your co-author in advance. But if a co-author based at a non-UK research organisation does not have access to a repository or immediate open access options, UKRI may permit a policy exception. To request an exception, the grant holder should contact UKRI.
SECTION 4: AUTHOR PREFERENCES, IMAGES & DATA
18. I am a PhD student. How does UKRI’s policy affect the publication of my doctoral work?
If you do not have an AHRC award, not at all. If you are in receipt of such an award, any book chapter or monograph you publish is exempt from the policy. If you publish articles in journals, they are in scope if you acknowledge support received by AHRC, and you must be able to publish them by Route 1 or Route 2. If neither are possible, for example because you will be no longer formally attached to the HEI where you did your doctorate, consult AHRC, which will be able to advise you. Your HEI is however encouraged by UKRI to support your OA publications.
19. My publication relies on images, maps, text, or musical notation, copyrighted by a third party which prohibits OA, or charges impossible sums to permit OA. What do I do?
If your publication is a monograph or book chapter, you are exempt from the policy. Shaping our open access policy – UKRI will provide updated guidance here. If it is a journal article, we advise Route 2, if the journal and/or publisher agrees; in that case the AAM may have the third-party sections blacked out. But in this case the Version of Record will still be available, as now, to members of Research Organisations which subscribe to it, and also in hard copy.
20. I wish to use a CCBY-ND licence for my publication. What do I do?
If you are publishing a monograph or book chapter, you can do this without consultation. If you are publishing a journal article, you must fill in a form, available at No-derivatives licence exception – UKRI, explaining why you need this licence. Agreement to this will usually be automatic; UKRI will monitor CCBY-ND permissions across the next years, to see how much take-up there actually is. Shaping our open access policy – UKRI will provide further updated guidance here.
21. I wish to use a CCBY-NC licence for my publication. What do I do?
If the publication is a monograph or book chapter, you can do this without consultation. If it is a journal article, you may not use this licence.
22. My research is based on archival evidence or copyrighted material. How do I write my Data Access statement?
You simply need to state this fact, and reference the archives, etc., which you have used (or else direct the reader to the footnotes for guidance). The Data Access statement is essentially relevant for electronic datasets generated in the course of your grant-aided research, or open datasets published elsewhere, e.g. the census data held at the UKDA, or Hansard data.
23. The journal publishing my article does not have an established practice concerning Data Access statements. What do I do?
Put the statement into the first footnote, together with your recognition of AHRC support.
SECTION 5: MONOGRAPHS, AND OTHER PUBLISHING FORMATS
24. How do I access a BPC for a monograph or edited volume which is a product of a UKRI Research Council grant?
You will eventually apply to UKRI directly for a BPC, as is made clear in no. 19 of UKRI’s FAQs. You will not apply through your Research Organisation. The ways to do this will be clarified in or soon after Spring 2022; note that the UKRI OA policy does not apply to outputs published before January 2024. BUT, before full policy has been developed here, publication costs for monographs, book chapters and edited collections can continue be included in research grant applications.
25. The only appropriate publisher for my monograph does not have an OA programme that complies with UKRI policy. Do I need AHRC’s permission to publish there?
No, but you must notify AHRC, explaining the situation. The ways to do this will be clarified in Spring 2022. UKRI will monitor this across the next years.
26. The only appropriate publisher for my monograph does not allow ‘Green’ publication of the AAM with a 12-month embargo and requires a BPC which is larger than UKRI guidelines. What do I do?
You must notify AHRC, explaining the situation. Shaping our open access policy – UKRI, in or soon after Spring 2022, will provide the guidelines about how much money for BPCs is available, and according to what protocols. But if no resolution is possible, section 17a of the UKRI policy will apply in these cases. UKRI will monitor this across the next years.
27. What is a trade book?
Trade books are books written for a wider public than are most academic monographs. They are not in scope of UKRI’s policy. You should consult your publisher concerning whether your book can be considered a trade book or not. Most publishers have their own protocols concerning what is a trade book – often, they have different editing processes and marketing procedures from academic monographs, if they publish both. But if you and your publisher agree that your book is a trade book, it is exempt.
28. I am publishing a scholarly edition or a scholarly illustrated catalogue. Does the OA policy for long-form publications apply to it?
No, they are not in scope of UKRI’s OA policy.
29. Are performances and artistic creations exempt from UKRI’s policy?
Yes, as creative writing is.
30. I have a UKRI/AHRC grant, and am editing a collection of articles/book chapters, or the proceedings of a conference, as part of the grant. One or more of my contributors do(es) not wish to publish OA. What do I do?
You should make it clear from the start that the eventual publication will be OA, to give them the opportunity not to participate.
31. I have been invited to give a conference paper about my grant-funded work, which will be published, but the editor/publisher does not wish to publish OA. What do I do?
You can use Route 2 for self-archiving your contribution, as long as the publisher agrees. If it does not, consult AHRC.
SECTION 6: THE NEXT REF AND POLICY COMPLIANCE
32. What effect will UKRI’s OA policy for grant-aided research have on the next REF?
None, except that any publication which conforms with UKRI’s policy will automatically qualify for that of a future REF. The next REF will be consulted on across the next few years, and was excluded from the recent OA consultations and policy concerning grant-aided research. It is formally recognised by UKRI that non-grant-aided research, funded by Research England and the devolved national councils through QR, cannot be subject to the same rules that grant-aided research is.
33. What penalties will there be for non-compliance with UKRI’s OA policy?
Shaping our open access policy – UKRI will provide updated guidance here in due course.
Seeking further information?
We hope this post has addressed your questions concerning the implementation of UKRI’s Open Access policy from April 2022, especially for historians and those in cognate disciplines. If you have additional questions, then we will try to help.