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Research & Scholarly Publications Team: Open Access

Open Access Guidance

What is Open Access?


Open access is the practice of providing free, unlimited online access to scholarly works and research outputs in a digital format, with limited restrictions on re-use.

The benefits of open access (OA) include:

  • Increased visibility and impact of research
  • Raised profile for author, funder and university
  • Faster dissemination
  • Compliance with funder and REF requirements
  • Social / public good

There are two ways of making your publications open access: Green open access (self-archiving) or gold open access.

Green Open Access (self-archiving)

Authors publish their work in a journal then deposit a version of the article for free public use in their institutional repository (e.g. Pure) or a central subject-based repository (e.g. Arxiv or PubMed Central​).  This is known as self-archiving and is often referred to as the "green" route to open access.  Depending on what the journal publisher will allow, the version archived is often an author's final version rather than the published version.

Gold Open Access

Authors publish in an open access journal, or choose an open access option in a hybrid journal, to make the paper open access immediately on publication.  There is often a fee (article processing charge - APC) associated with this option which the author or their institution will pay.


APCs - Article Processing Charges

The University's preference is to primarily achieve open access through the green route, by making appropriate versions of research outputs available in the institutional repository in line with publisher's policies.  There is no internal central fund for gold open access. However, the University is in receipt of a small block grant from RCUK to support gold open access for papers resulting from RCUK funded projects. This grant is finite and is available to researchers on a first come, first served basis for publications that meet the requirements of the RCUK Policy on Open Access. For further information please contact


The Library has an agreement with Sage for a discounted APC rate of £200 when publishing a gold open access article in a hybrid journal which is part of the subscription package. For further details please email  


Gold open access publications can also be added to the institutional repository. 

Coventry University Open Access Policy


The University has approved an Open Access policy with regard to scholarly publication, which came into force on the 1st August 2015.

This will enable us to comply with HEFCE’s Open Access guidelines for future REFs.  It will also ensure that research outputs from the University are disseminated as widely as possible, helping to raise the profile of the authors and University. 

What does this mean for individual researchers?

When an item has been accepted for publication, authors must record the bibliographic details of the output in the institutional repository, Pure, within three months of the date of acceptance.

Authors must also deposit full text copies of the research outputs, i.e. final accepted peer-reviewed journal articles and conference papers (and where appropriate monographs) in Pure no later than three months after the date of acceptance for publication.

 Authors may also deposit all other types of research output where copyright allows, and subject to any contracts with third parties, commercial sensitivities and discipline-specific conventions.

Does it make a difference if I am publishing via the Gold or Green Routes?

Coventry University favours open access by means of the Green Route (no fee).  This enables the author to publish for free in any journal and to self-archive a version of the article for free public use i.e. in Pure, subject to publisher policies.  As well as ensuring your research reaches a wider audience, adding your research outputs to Pure will help researchers comply with funder policies and the requirements for future REFs. This guide to self-deposit explains how you can deposit your research outputs in Pure.

The University recognises that there are additional benefits of the Gold (or fee-paid) open access route. Where specific funding is  available, and where funders require it, this will be used to fund Article Processing Charges (APC) charges incurred to ensure outputs are open access immediately upon publication.

The policy applies in principle to all forms of research output.  However, it is recognised that in some instances (e.g. monographs or book chapters) it may not be possible to make the full text or output available openly.  Where this is the case, authors are encouraged to upload the output to Pure for preservation purposes with an indefinite embargo period applied if required.

We would encourage authors to negotiate publishing contracts where possible and appropriate, to permit their work to be made available via the institutional repository.  An embargo period can be applied as required.  This is already a requirement for some research funders and authors should check the terms of their funding agreements before signing contracts with publishers.


For further help and advise, please contact the Library Research & Scholarly Publications Team by email: or on ext: 657568

HEFCE Open Access policy for post-2014 REF


Most staff will already be aware of the Research Excellence Framework (REF), which is a system for assessing the quality of research outputs in UK Universities which affects future research funding. 

To be eligible for the next REF, staff will have to meet open access requirements. These must be met at the time papers are accepted for publication - making your papers open access in a few years time during the REF selection process, will not meet HEFCE OA requirements. These requirements will apply to all universities in the UK.

HEFCE's Open Access Policy for the post-2014 REF sets out the guidelines, which are summarised below.  

 Key points

  • The policy applies to all journal articles and any conference papers published in proceedings that have an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
  • It is mandatory for items accepted for publication after April 2016. However, HEFCE are urging institutions to implement this with immediate effect. 

 To be eligible for submission to the post-2014 REF:-

  • An author's final peer-reviewed manuscripts (Version Types) must be deposited in an institutional or subject repository on acceptance of the publication;
  • Deposit must occur within three months of the acceptance date (as given in the acceptance letter or email from the publisher to the author);
  • The deposited version can be replaced with an updated manuscript or the final published version of record at a later date;
  • Where outputs have no embargo (a restriction on sharing the paper during a time limit imposed by the publisher) they must be made open access within one month of deposit;
  • For outputs with an embargo period, those periods should not exceed 12 months for REF main panels A and B, or 24 months for REF main panels C and D. You can see which subjects were in each of the 2014 panels here, although these may change slightly;
  • Once any embargo period has lapsed, deposited material should be discoverable, and free to read and download;
  • A university gets extra credit in the research environment component of the post-2014 REF where it can demonstrate that it has taken steps towards enabling open access for outputs outside the scope of this policy.

The policy does allow for a number of exceptions, for example, to allow for cases where the publication concerned requires an embargo period that exceeds the maximum period, or actively disallows open access deposit in a repository, and in either case was the most appropriate publication for the output.

Any output submitted to the REF which does not meet the requirements of this policy and does not meet with any of the allowed exceptions will be given an unclassified score and will not be assessed.


HEFCE do not specify which licence should be used in making research outputs openly available, but advise that any outputs licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Non-Derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) licence would meet the requirements of the policy.

See the Copyright and Licensing tab for more information regarding licensing.

Further Information

This workflow document may be useful in understanding the issues and decisions around OA publishing for compliance with HEFCE policy.

Systems and processes to support CU authors in complying with this policy are currently being developed and information regarding this will be added to this site.  Please contact the Library Repository Team with any queries.

RCUK Open Access Requirements


The Open Access Policy of the Research Councils UK (RCUK) requires all papers submitted after April 2013 whose work was funding wholly or in part by any of the research councils to be made open access.  Though the policy only applies to journal or conference papers, RCUK encourage authors to make other types of output open access where possible.

To comply with RCUK policy authors can publish through either the green or gold route to open access.  The RCUK requirements for each of the two options are explained in the table below.

Green Open Access Gold Open access  

(Publish in a subscription or hybrid journal that allows you to deposit in an institutional or subject repository)

(Immediate open access on publishers website)

Versions to be made available

(an explanation on version types can be found here)

The version made available in the repository should be the version "accepted for publication" i.e. the version which includes the changes made in the peer-review process, but prior to publisher formatting. 

Published version
Delay before the article is freely available  Where no gold route is available, an embargo of up to 12 months is permitted for research funded by the AHRC and ESRC, and 6 months for all other Councils.

Where there is a gold route, but APC funding is not available, an embargo of up to 24 months is permitted for AHRC and ESRC, and 12 months for all other Councils.

 Must be made immediately available on publication
Required licence terms  RCUK do not specify a particular licence for green OA.  However, they do require that papers are made available without restrictions on non-commercial re-use.  Must be a Creative Commons attribution licence
Cost  There is not usually a charge for this route.  There is often an Article Processing Charge associated with this route


This decision tree (PDF) may help you to decide which route to choose. Both green and gold papers can be deposited in Pure and you are encouraged to do this.

Requirements that apply to both Green and Gold:


All journal and conference papers must:

  • acknowledge the funder in the publication. The Research Information Network (RIN) has provided guidance on Acknowledgement of Funders in Journal Articles;
  • include a statement on how the underlying research materials can be accessed.  The materials do not need to be open access, but details access policies and procedures must be included.  Where the data cannot be made available for commercial or confidentiality reasons, this should be stated. 

Some funders such as MRC require deposit in specific repositories e.g. PubMed Central. Depositing in these repositories does not prevent authors from also depositing in the Pure University Institutional repository.

The RCUK is now reporting on their funded research in the RCUK Gateway to Research. It contains information on RCUK projects which became active after April 2006, and includes outcomes information submitted in ROS and Researchfish.



Researchfish is a Research Outcomes System designed to enable researchers to report once across multiple funders, and re-use their data. It has a simple one-click environment for adding research outcomes to be stored and/or attributed to an award. A researcher, or one of their delegates, can add, edit and delete entries, and attribute entries to awards they hold or to one of their CV’s held in the Researchfish portal.

Researchfish is currently used by many public and charitable research funding agencies (including the UK Research Councils, the BHF, Arthritis Research UK, Cancer Research UK, and NIHR).

RCUK have announced that they will be using Researchfish for the Research Councils’ harmonised research outcomes collection system from September 2014. Please see the project announcement on the RCUK website.

For further information on Researchfish and account details contact the Business Development Group.

Copyright and Licensing


You may find the following information useful, though please note that this page can only provide guidelines and should not be relied on for legal advice.

Introduction to Copyright

Copyright law grants exclusive rights to creators of original works of authorship. National laws usually extend protections to such works automatically once fixed in a tangible medium, prohibiting the making of copies without the rights holder’s permission, among other things. On the internet, even the most basic activities involve making copies of copyrighted content. As content is increasingly uploaded, downloaded, and shared online, copyright law is becoming more relevant to more people.

Useful links:

  • Copyright User is a multimedia resource aimed at helping creators, media professionals and the general public understand copyright. A joint collaboration between CREATe and Bournemouth University, Copyright User consists of videos, interactive tools, subject resources, and FAQs. The resources are meant for everyone who uses copyright: musicians, filmmakers, performers, writers, visual artists or interactive developers. It informs creators how to protect their work, how to license and exploit it, and how to legally re-use the work of others.
  • Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is the official government body responsible for IP rights in the UK, includes patents, designs, trademarks and copyright information
  • Jisc Legal offers copyright guidance, resources and FAQs.
  • CREATe is the RCUK Centre for Copyright and New Business Models in the Creative Economy, based at the University of Glasgow. It is funded jointly by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). CREATe investigates the future of creative production in the digital age, and in particular the role of copyright.

Changes to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 for the purposes of teaching and research

The Act was amended in 2014 to update the framework of exceptions to copyright and rights in performances, expanding the freedoms in copyright law that allows third parties to use copyright works.

The new legislation includes:

  • Copyright and Rights in Performances (Research, Education, Libraries and Archives) regulations 2014, no.1372
  • Copyright and Rights in Performances (Disability) regulations 2014, no.1384
  • Copyright (Public Administration) regulations 2014, no.1385

For further information on the changes click here

Further Information


Helpful Steps To Make Sure OA Funder Requirements Are Met:

  • Know your funding body's open access policy - If you're not sure, check the Sherpa Juliet database for guidance, and the website of your funding body
  • Look for a compliant journal to submit to - Check the OA policy of the journal using the Sherpa RoMEo database or with the publisher directly before you submit. If the publisher does not meet the conditions of your funding then consider negotiating with the publisher via a License to Publish agreement or choose another journal.
  • Know what you are signing with the publisher - There is a difference between a 'License to Publish', an Author Addendum and a 'Copyright Transfer Agreement'- (refer to the Copyright and Licensing page). Retaining rights at the submission stage makes self-archiving easier down the line - a useful Author Addendum form is available via the SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) website in the Resources for Authors section
  • Know your version types, and keep them safe - If you are considering self-archiving (the green OA route) in an institutional, subject or disciplinary repository, you probably won't be able to deposit the published version if you signed a Copyright Transfer Agreement. To comply with REF 2020 and RCUK funding policies you will need to submit your accepted, peer-reviewed final proof version under the green OA route where the published PDF is not allowed to be archived. Make sure you keep the submitted, accepted and published versions of your papers. The Repository Team will be able to help you identify the best one to deposit, where, and whether the publisher will deposit a version to a disciplinary repository on your behalf.
  • Know what you are getting if you pay the gold OA fee - What additional rights do you retain in a subscription journal by paying the fee? It does not always mean you can self-archive and freely distribute the published version.



  • Advance Online Publication - Some publishers enable articles to be published online as soon as they have been fully copy-edited and proof-checked, ahead of the final, ‘printed’ version. This version of the article is in exactly the same format as they appear in the final issue except for page numbering. Any embargo periods pertaining to Open Access start from this release date. Also known as Early or First online publication.
  • Article Processing Charge (APC) - Fee which may be payable to the publisher to publish via the gold open access route. When an article is published in a traditional subscription journal, the author pays an APC to make their individual article freely available from the journal website, without restriction or charge to the reader.

  • Bibliographic Record - The bibliographic description of a digital publication. Search engines crawl the internet to find documents and, depending on the quality of the metadata, they list the 'hits'. The high-quality metadata for items deposited in repositories enables the documents to be easily discoverable. Also known as Publication record or Metadata.
  • CC-BY Licence - Creative Commons Attribution Licence - This is the most liberal of the CC licences. As long as the original author(s) receives attribution, this allows anyone to copy, distribute or transmit the research, adapt the research and make commercial use of the research. RCUK requires this licence is used if the gold open access route is selected. 

  • COAF - Charity Open Access Fund - Comprised of six medical research charities - Arthritis Research UK, Breast Cancer Campaign, the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, and the Wellcome Trust. Research funded by any of these charities must meet their Open Access requirements. See COAF (Wellcome Trust).
  • Corresponding Authors - The author responsible for manuscript correction, correspondence during submission, handling of revisions and re-submission of the revised manuscript. On acceptance of the manuscript, the corresponding author is responsible for co-ordinating any application for payment of a Gold Open Access Article Processing Charge (APC).

  • Creative Commons Licences - Creative Commons licences can be used in open access publishing to help authors retain copyright while allowing others to copy, distribute, and make use of their work. There are several different Creative Commons licences, which allow different types of re-use. See the Creative Commons website

  • DOI - Digital Object Identifier - A unique identifier for an online document, used by most online journal publishers. As the DOI is unique to the publication, linking to an online document by its DOI provides more stable linking than simply referring to it by its URL.
  • Embargo Period - An embargo in academic publishing is a period during which access to a research publication self-archived in an open access repository (Green open access) is restricted. The purpose of this is usually to protect the revenue of publishers who rely on subscription payments to cover the costs of publication.
  • Europe PubMed Central (Europe PMC) - A life sciences and biomedical research subject repository. The Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council (MRC) and most other UK biomedical funders require copies of funded articles to be deposited in Europe PMC within 6 months of publication. The USA-based PubMed Central is the repository containing global content.

  • Gold Open Access - The full text of the article is instantly available to anyone without a subscription or viewing fee from the publisher's website. The author may need to pay an "article processing charge" (APC) to the publisher.
  • Green Open Access - Author publishes in a traditional, subscription based journal and a copy of the research (usually the author’s final, peer-reviewed manuscript – sometimes referred to as a post-print) is deposited in either an institutional or subject repository, usually at the point of publication. No APC is paid to the publisher. Following any embargo period set by the publisher the manuscript is then made free to access. The published final version of the journal sits behind a subscription pay wall on the journal website, while the "post-print" copy is available to anyone from the repository.

  • Institutional Repository - Online digital archive of an institution’s research publications. Coventry University's Institutional Repository is Pure. It can be accessed here and outputs can be deposited here.
  • Open Access - Open access is the practice of providing free, unlimited online access to scholarly works and research outputs in a digital format, with limited restrictions on re-use. A key driver behind OA has been to make publicly-funded research accessible to tax-payers.

  • Pre-print - This is usually defined as the author's final draft of a paper before peer-review. It is also often referred to as the author's submitted manuscript. Many publishers allow authors to place the pre-print in a repository. However, pre-print versions do not normally meet funder requirements.

  • Post-print - Refers to the final draft author manuscript, as accepted for publication, including modifications based on referees' suggestions but before it has undergone copy-editing and proof correction. It is often referred to as the author's accepted manuscript. The post-print version is the one that should ideally be deposited in CURVE Open in order to meet REF and funder requirements.
  • Published PDF - The formatted PDF file that appears in the journal. This version will be the publisher's copy-edited PDF with final page numbers, typesetting and journal branding included. Many publishers will not allow you to self-archive the published version unless you have paid an APC to make the paper openly available immediately (gold route).
  • Publisher Agreement - When you publish your paper you will probably sign a 'publisher agreement’. This document states your rights as an author, so it is always worthwhile keeping a copy. On the publisher agreement it should state whether you can make your article available on our institutional repository.
  • Pure - Coventry University's Institutional Repository. It can be accessed here and outputs can be deposited here.
  • RCUK (Research Councils UK) Mandates - RCUK policy is that all research funded by them should be freely and immediately available. The RCUK preference is for gold OA, but they do support a mixed approach; the decision on which OA route to follow is taken by the individual author/institution. If the gold route is not available or appropriate, RCUK requires green deposit for a funded research output within 0-12 months of publication (see embargo). The AHRC require funded research-level theses to be OA within 12 months. RCUK require a minimum of 45% of funded research to be OA in 2013-14, and 53% in 2014-15.
  • REF - Research Excellence Framework - The Research Excellence Framework is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions (HEIs). The next REF is in 2020. To be eligible for the next REF, staff will have to meet open access requirements. These must be met at the time papers are accepted for publication. To access the HEFCE policy for REF 2020 click here.

  • Wellcome Trust Mandates - The Wellcome Trust supports unrestricted access to publications wholly or partly funded by them. The outputs must be made available in PubMed Central or Europe PubMed Central within 6 months of final publications. They will provide grant-holders (via their institution) with additional funding to cover OA charges where appropriate.
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Open Access Explained

Video by: PHDComics

Licenced under a CC BY Attribution Licence

Contact Us

Research & Scholarly Publications
FL320, Lanchester Library
Coventry University
Frederick Lanchester Building
Gosford Street
Coventry, United Kingdom
Telephone: 024 7765 7568

Open Access and Institutional Repository -   

Research Data Management -

Pure - Coventry University's Institutional Repository:

Pure Portal -

To deposit on Pure -