Accessibility statement

Open Access

Open access FAQs

Frequently asked question about open access at University of York. 

The FAQs are divided into three sections: 

If your question is still not answered, contact the Open Research Team at

About open access

What open access requirements do I need to be aware of?

All University of York researchers are expected to ensure that their published outputs are in keeping with the University policy and the requirements for submission to the next REF.

In addition, many external research funders have open access requirements above those of the REF which will apply to any research acknowledging their funding.


Do open access requirements apply to PhD students?

Yes, although there are some differences.

PhD students who started their research degree programme on or after 1 October 2009 are required to deposit a copy of their final PhD thesis to the White Rose Etheses Online repository and this should be made open access if possible. For further details see the guidance on the presentation and submission of theses.

Under the University Policy on the Publication of Research, PhD students are not required to deposit a copy of their research papers to a repository but they are encouraged to do so. PhD students at York can deposit their research to the White Rose Research Online repository.

If PhD research is funded by an external organisation (such as one of the UK Research Councils (RCUK)) then the open access requirements for that funder will usually apply to any publications resulting from the research.

The requirements for the next REF only apply to authors employed by a UK higher education institution at the time that a paper is submitted; in most cases this will not apply to full-time PhD students. You are, however, still encouraged to make your outputs open access where possible.

What are Creative Commons licences (CC-BY, CC-BY-NC etc)?

Creative Commons licences are an easy way for rights holders (usually an author or publisher) to specify how third-parties may use material and what conditions apply. Other types of licence are sometimes used, such as the Open Government Licence (OGL). Creative Commons licences work alongside existing copyright.

Creative Commons licences are usually denoted by a series of pairs of letters, the first being 'CC' (Creative Commons) with subsequent pairs specifying the conditions that must be adhered to by any third-parties using the content. The most commonly used licenses for academic literature are CC-BY, CC-BY-NC, and CC-BY-NC-ND.

A full description of the licences, what they mean, and the differences between them can be found on the Creative Commons website.


Open access policy for the next REF

Do I have to pay an open access publication charge to ensure eligibility for REF?

No. HEFCE have been clear that they do not expect authors or institutions to pay open access publication fees in order to comply with the open access requirements for the REF.

Most publishers will allow authors to make their papers available through a repository, in accordance with the REF requirements; no fee is required.

If the most appropriate publication for a piece of research requires payment of an open access fee, then the publication can be treated as disallowing open access deposit and an exception to the REF requirements can be used.

Can I meet the REF requirements by adding my paper to ResearchGate or

No. Sites like ResearchGate and are primarily social networking sites, not open access repositories.

Can I meet the REF open access requirements by depositing to the arXiv repository?

No. arXiv is primarily designed to host pre-prints (papers which have not yet been accepted for publication) rather than accepted manuscripts as called for by the REF requirements. As a result, arXiv does not currently record the metadata required to ensure compliance with REF requirements. University Policy on the Publication of Research also requires deposit to the University repository (PURE / White Rose Research Online).

If there are multiple authors on the paper do we all need to deposit a copy?

The paper must be deposited to the York instance of PURE, but only one copy needs to be deposited.

If co-authors at a different institution have deposited to their institutional repository, it is still expected that a copy will be deposited to PURE.

If there are multiple authors at York, only one author needs to deposit a copy; it is left to authors to decide who will do this, but it is each author's responsibility to ensure that this is done within the required timescale.

If a colleague lists you as an author on a PURE record, you should receive an email to inform you of this. This will only indicate that a record has been created for the paper and is not a guarantee that a copy of the paper has been added.

If multiple records are added to PURE for the same paper this will be identified by Library staff and the records will be merged into a single record to avoid duplication.

If the paper will be open access on the publisher's website, should I still deposit a copy to a repository?

Yes. The University Policy on the Publication of Research requires deposit. In some cases of 'gold' open access, it may be possible to deposit the final published version into PURE/White Rose Research Online if the paper is published under a Creative Commons licence and if deposit can be achieved within the relevant REF/University Policy deadline.

If deposit of the final published version is not possible within the deadline, then the accepted manuscript needs to be deposited in PURE/White Rose Research Online, with the final version also deposited in due course. In this case, it is important that the accepted manuscript is not removed from PURE as it is this version that demonstrates compliance with the deadline.

Will the REF panels use the deposited versions of papers for the assessment exercise?

No. We expect that the REF panels will use the published version of record for the assessment exercise, not the deposited manuscript.

Do the REF open access requirements only cover peer-reviewed research?

No. Outputs which are in the scope of the policy will be required to comply with the open access requirements irrespective of whether or not they are peer-reviewed.

What types of conference proceedings are covered by the REF open access policy?

HEFCE updated their FAQ (FAQ 2.4) in August 2016 to try to clarify the scope of the policy in relation to conference proceedings. Conferences that publish online-only, journal-like series of proceedings (typically in the sciences) are intended to be in scope. Conferences that publish books or book-like outputs (typically in the humanities) are intended to be out of scope.

It should be noted that HEFCE believe that in many cases outputs with both an ISSN (for the series) and an ISBN (for the individual issue) can meet the requirements, as they are published in a venue with a compliant self-archiving policy, and therefore encourage authors to ensure that these outputs meet the open access criteria. Where this is not possible, this should be recorded as an "other" exception.

York authors are advised to deposit their accepted manuscript for conference proceedings where at all possible.

When do embargo periods start from?

It is up to the publisher to specify when the embargo period begins.

In most cases, the embargo period will begin from the date that the output is first published online. This is sometimes called the 'epub ahead of print date', 'online publication date', or 'early online date'. Unless otherwise specified this can be taken as the start date for the embargo.

In some cases, the publisher might specify that the embargo begins from the final, print publication date. HEFCE recognise that this is sometimes the case and will accept this as compliant with the REF open access policy.  

Do the open access requirements for REF apply to teaching staff?

Yes, the REF open access requirements apply to anyone who is employed by a UK HEI at the time that the paper was submitted.

We recommend that teaching-only staff (ie those who do not have research as part of their contract) make their research papers open access by depositing a copy directly to the White Rose Research Online repository. See our guidance on depositing your research for further instructions.

Should I retain proof of the date of acceptance?

Yes. We do not anticipate having to submit proof of the date of acceptance as part of the REF process but in case of an audit we would recommend that you keep a copy of the correspondence from your publisher notifying you that the paper has been accepted.

There is no requirement to store copies of acceptance correspondence in a particular location but it is possible to upload a copy to the relevant record in PURE. This can be done using the 'Add other file…' option.

My article will be published in Internet Archaeology. What can I do to meet the REF open access requirements?

The format of Internet Archaeology does not lend itself to the deposit of an accepted manuscript. The journal does, however, provide the immediate and permanent availability of the published version of record with a licence that permits copying and reuse. For REF purposes, the exception available for those publishing via the "gold" route to open access will be automatically applied for University of York authors. It is not necessary for York authors to request this exception.

Depositing your research

Which repository should I use to deposit a copy of my accepted publications?

The University's institutional repository is White Rose Research Online. University policy asks that York authors deposit a copy of their research outputs to this repository.

For academic and research staff, deposit to White Rose Research Online can be achieved by uploading copies of their papers to PURE. For staff and students who do not have access to PURE, outputs can be deposited directly at the White Rose Research Online website. See our guidance on depositing your research:

Some research funders or collaborators may have separate requirements for outputs to be available through a specific repository. For example, many biomedical funders require that outputs are deposited to the Europe PubMed Central repository. In these cases, a copy should still be added to PURE/White Rose Research Online.  

How do I deposit a copy of my output to PubMed Central?

Deposit to PubMed Central is a requirement for a number of biomedical research funders.

In many cases, the publisher of a journal will automatically deposit papers to PubMed Central on publication, although an embargo may be used. If this is the case, this information will be on the journal or publisher's website.

If a publisher does not automatically deposit to PubMed Central, it may be possible to self-archive copies of your papers. This option is only available for research which acknowledges funding from one of the US National Institutes of Health or one of the Europe PubMed Central funders group.

To deposit your research use the Europe PubMed Central Plus service. The service includes detailed guidance and FAQs for authors. Please be aware that you journal or publisher may place restrictions on deposit to PubMed Central, see our guidance on journal open access policies.

By depositing a manuscript will I break the agreement I have with the publisher?

Most publishers allow deposit (or 'self-archiving') of author-prepared accepted manuscripts to an institutional repository. However, some publishers may require that a period of time has elapsed before the deposited manuscript is made publicly available (an embargo period). 

For all documents deposited to PURE or to White Rose Research Online, Library staff will check the policy of the relevant journal, publisher or rights-holder. Documents will not be made available for public access until such time as is permitted by the journal, publisher or rights-holder.   

The journal asks me to submit the manuscript pre-formatted in a house style. Can I deposit this version?

In most cases this will be fine. Publishers will usually ask that the manuscript deposited is 'author-prepared', and this would include any formatting that is done by the author.

Where the accepted manuscript has already been formatted by the publisher, this may be more problematic. Whether or not this version is acceptable will depend on the self-archiving policy of the publisher. 

What file format should I use for deposited files?

Files should be deposited in a format which you think will be most useful to anyone accessing your work, bearing in mind that this might be some time in the future.

For text files, PDF is recommended but Microsoft Word documents are also an acceptable format. 

My manuscript contains third-party copyrighted content (images etc). Can I still make it open access through the repository?

Unless the rights-holder for the content (or their agent) has prohibited re-use of the material on an open access platform, you should follow the standard process to deposit your manuscript. The deposited manuscript will be made available through the repository in accordance with the publisher's standard open access policy.

If the third-party material was acquired with a licence for re-use then check the terms of the licence. Should the licence have a fixed duration, or set a limit on the size of the audience for the content, then open access to the third-party content in your manuscript risks a claim for copyright infringement.

In these situations the manuscript should still be deposited to PURE but authors may choose to redact third-party copyright material or to simply change the manuscript access settings to 'closed'. The open access requirements for the next REF offer an exception that can be used in these circumstances (exception 39a). See our guidance on exceptions for further details. If other open access requirements apply you should check whether these requirements make any allowances for third-party copyright.

Some licences allow content to be reproduced for 'non-commercial' use. The repository generates no direct income for its partner institutions so these licences do no present a barrier to open access.

If you don't have a record of any licence to re-use the third-party content, or the terms are ambiguous with regard to open access, you should deposit your manuscript in the usual way without reference to the exception. In the as yet unprecedented event that the repository receives a claim for copyright infringement, your manuscript will be withdrawn from the public platform, and you will be advised to claim an exception retrospectively if necessary for the purposes of REF.

For more information about gaining permission to use copyright material in your own work visit our guide to copyright permissions.

Can I deposit a redacted manuscript to avoid infringing third-party copyright?

If your manuscript incorporates material which was acquired under terms which prohibit open access (see above), you may wish to consider depositing a version with the third-party content redacted, when this has no detrimental effect on the scholarly value of your paper.

In the cases, please deposit two versions of the paper to PURE, a redacted version (with the Public access to file options set to 'Open') and the original un-redacted version (with the Public access to file options set to 'Closed').

Please also add a note to the Bibliographical note field to indicate that some content of the paper has been redacted for copyright reasons.

I have already created a PURE record when the article was accepted, what should I do when the output is actually published?

Once the output has been published, even if it is just 'E-Pub ahead of print', you should update the existing record to reflect this. Do not create a new record for the same publication. Open the existing record and, in the publication state section, click 'Add publication status and date…' Select the 'Published' or 'E-pub ahead of print' status and enter the publication year or date. Click 'Save' at the bottom of the record.

If you want to add further information about the publication, such as volume and issue numbers, you can do so. However, where this information is not entered, Library staff will complete these fields. 

Can I update a file after it has been deposited?

No, once a file has been deposited it should not be changed or deleted. This is important as the deposited file contains a record of the date of deposit. However, if you have an updated version of a file, this can be deposited in addition to the existing file by adding it to the same record. 

If I have already created a PURE record on acceptance, what happens if I import a full publication record from Scopus?

The Scopus import will create a new record which means there will temporarily be two records for the same outputs. In most cases PURE will identify this as a duplicate record and Library staff will merge these into a single record using information from both. If your profile includes duplicate entries which have not been resolved, please contact us at Do not attempt to delete the original record as important information may be lost.

What should I do if I cannot make any information about my paper public until official publication?

Ideally we will make information about the publication available as soon as possible after it has been deposited. If, however, there is reason why this should not happen then authors can choose to hide the record until publication.

In the PURE record use the 'Visibility' option (near the bottom of the template) to select "Pure Users - Visible within Pure only" and save the record. This will ensure that none of the data about the publication is made publicly visible.

As soon as possible, change the visibility back to "Public – Visible in York Research Database and Pure" and save the record. Failure to do this will prevent the output from being made open access and might have implications for funder and REF compliance.

How can I find out how many times my paper on White Rose Research Online (WRRO) has been downloaded? What is the most downloaded paper in WRRO for my department?

The WRRO Repository statistics: Step-by-step guides provide answers to these and related questions.

Paying open access publication fees (APCs)

How can I get funding to pay open access publication charges for NIHR-funded research?

For NIHR grants received from 1 April 2014 onwards, open access publication costs and other appropriate publication costs should be written into, and supported through the original NIHR grant. If insufficient funds are available to cover publication costs then researchers should contact their NIHR programme manager to find out if it is possible to obtain top-up funds.    

How do I get funds for additional publication charges such as page and colour supplements? Can I still include publication costs in my grant application?

This depends on your funder. RCUK now award Open Access publication charges as a block grant to universities and, as of 1 April 2013, these can no longer be included in any grant applications. Publications costs pertaining to outputs not covered by RCUK Open Access Policy (eg monographs or research data) can still be included in grant applications. Most other funders will allow you to include Open Access costs in your grant application.