Funder OA policies

Open Access Funder Policies

Many funding organisations require that the outputs of the research they fund be made Open Access. These include:

  • Research Councils UK (RCUK) including AHRC, BBSRC, EPSRC, ESRC, MRC, NERC and STFC
  • Charity OA Fund partners including the Wellcome Trust, Arthritis Research UK, Bloodwise, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, and Parkinson's UK.
  • National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)
  • European Union (Horizon 2020)

Most funder requirements apply even if the research was only partially funded by that organisation. If your output acknowledges support from more than one funder, you must ensure that all requirements are met.

See Open Access and the REF for guidance on HEFCE's requirements for Open Access.

Understanding funder policies

The majority of research funders have some form of publications policy and it is important that you read and understand these as soon as possible.

In some cases publication costs should be written into grant applications in which case you will need to know the requirements before applying to the funder.

The easiest way to get information about a funder’s policy is through the SHERPA/JULIET database.

It is recommended that you also check your funder’s website or contact them for further details.

Whether to deposit

Many funders specify that you must deposit research in either an institutional or subject archive.

What to deposit

It is important for both the publisher and the funder that you deposit the correct version of a research paper.

When to deposit

Funders will usually state a maximum acceptable embargo period. This is the period of time between publication of the paper and it being made available through an open access repository. Publishers will usually specify a minimum acceptable embargo period. It is important to ensure that the funder and journal policies correspond before submitting your paper.

Where to deposit

Some funders are satisfied as long as your paper has been made available through an established open access repository. Some funders will specify a particular repository in which authors must deposit a copy of their paper. It is not uncommon, for example, for funders in health-related disciplines to insist that a paper is deposited in PubMed Central or Europe PubMed Central.

Deposit conditions

It’s always worth checking whether funders have any specific requirements to do with deposit.

Whether to publish

Most funders will want you to publish. Some organisations may by funding your research for commercial or other reasons that mean they do not want you to publish your findings. This should have been established from the very beginning of a grant.

Where to publish

The majority of funders are happy for you to publish where you would like as long as the journal allows you to meet their requirements. Some funders will specify that you must publish research in a journal that accepts gold open access or even one that is only gold open access. A small number of funders may require you to publish within specified journals.

Publishing conditions

Any other information regarding the funder’s publishing requirements.

General conditions

Any other information about the funder’s open access or other publishing requirements including qualification of policies listed above.

RCUK Policy on OA

Research Councils UK:

Research Councils UK, the umbrella organisation for the seven UK Research Councils, have an open access policy that applies to any research papers which acknowledge support from one or more of the Research Councils.

Expectations on Researchers

Researchers are expected to publish any peer reviewed research papers which acknowledge Research Council funding in journals that comply with RCUK Policy.

There are two ways in which this can be achieved:

Route 1 (the gold route)

A journal will provide unrestricted access to the final published version of a paper on its own website. The paper must be made available under a Creative Commons CC-BY licence. This will usually involve the payment of an article processing charge (APC) to the publisher.

Route 2 (the green route)

The journal allows the “final Accepted Manuscript” (i.e. the post-print) to be deposited in a repository and made available as Open Access within an acceptable time after publication (an embargo period). For AHRC and ESRC funded research the maximum accepted embargo period is 12 months; for all other Research Councils the maximum acceptable embargo period is 6 months.

If an author attempts to make a paper Open Access under method 1 (the gold route) but finds that funds are not available then RCUK have indicated that they are willing to accept depositing of a manuscript in a repository with a longer embargo period. This will be a maximum 24 months for AHRC and ESRC and a maximum of 12 months for all other Research Councils.

Whether to use the Gold or Green route

Research Councils UK (RCUK) have expressed a preference for the gold route to Open Access; however their policy leaves the choice of which route to take with the author or research organisation. If an author wishes to go the green route to Open Access it is important that the journal of choice allows the article to be made Open Access through a repository within an acceptable embargo period.

1. Will your chosen journal allow you to deposit the accepted manuscript in a repository and make it Open Access within 6 months (or 12 months for AHRC or ESRC)?

YES - Go green. You can deposit your article to White Rose Research Online (WRRO) and set an embargo period if required.

NO  - Next question:

2. Will your chosen journal allow you to deposit the accepted manuscript in a repository and make it Open Access within 12 months (or 24 months for AHRC or ESRC)?

YES – Your first choice should be to try gold. Apply to the York Open Access Fund for payment of APCs and let your publisher know that you want to pay for Open Access. If funds are not available to pay for the APC then you will be informed of this but you can still make your paper Open Access through WRRO once the embargo period has elapsed.

NO – You should try to find a journal that will allow a shorter embargo period. You are still eligible to apply for APC funds from the York Open Access Fund which would allow your paper to be made open access. However, there is no guarantee that funds would be available and you may find yourself unable to comply with RCUK policy. If you find that you are unable to comply with RCUK policy because of journal restrictions please let us know. It is important that we know of any problems that York authors are experiencing so that we can report to RCUK. Email us at

Support with compliance

Route 1 (the gold route)

RCUK will award block grants to universities to help with payment of article processing charge (APCs) for Open Access publication. At York this award will be managed through the York Open Access Fund. York staff whose work acknowledges RCUK funding are eligible to apply to the York Open Access Fund for payment of APCs. Application to the Fund should be done when a paper is submitted to the publisher. Please be aware that demand is expected to be high and we cannot guarantee that funds will be available.

Route 2 (the green route)

White Rose Research Online (WRRO) is an Institutional Repository (IR) for the Universities of York, Leeds and Sheffield. Any member of the University of York can deposit their work to WRRO and make it Open Access. If a minimum embargo period is specified by the journal this can be set in WRRO to ensure that there is no breach of copyright.

For academic and research staff, depositing to WRRO should be done via PURE. For all other members of staff and students, papers can be deposited directly to WRRO.

COAF partner policies

Charity Open Access Fund

Charity Open Access Fund partners

The Charity Open Access Fund (COAF) is a partnership between six major biomedical research funders in the UK. COAF harmonises the Open Access requirements placed on funded researchers and the process by which Open Access publication is funded.

Expectations of researchers

The six charities which contribute to the Charity Open Access Fund are all part of a larger group of medical research funders who support Europe PubMed Central (Europe PMC) - an Open Access repository for biomedical literature which mirrors the US-Based PubMed Central (PMC).

As well as funding the Europe PMC repository, the group have agreed a core set of expectations for the research they fund.

  1. Research outputs arising from research funded by one or more of these organisations must be made freely and readily available
  2. Electronic copies of any biomedical research papers funded by one or more of the organisations must be made available through the PMC and Europe PMC repositories as soon as possible after publication, and no more than 6 months after the date of publication. 
  3. Publication under a license which allows work to be freely copied and reused is encouraged, and is required if an open access publication fee has been paid.

The preference of the six COAF partner charities is for immediate Open Access under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence. Authors' first choice should be for 'gold' Open Access, and this will usually involve payment of a publication fee.

While following these core principles, each of the funding organisations has its own specific Open Access policy which can be found by following the links below.

Payment of Open Access publications costs

The health research funders which participate in COAF each contribute to institutional block grants for payment of Open Access publication costs. At York, this funding is managed as part of the York OA Fund.

York authors whose work acknowledges support from one of the COAF partner charities can request payment of Open Access publication costs from the York Open Access Fund for peer-reviewed research papers and unsolicited review papers.

From 1st April 2017 COAF can only pay publication costs to publishers which have agreed to comply with the COAF publisher requirements. COAF maintain a list of publishers which have agreed to these conditions.  

If a journal offers authors a choice of open access licence it is very important that the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) licence is chosen. If papers are not published under the correct licence, publication fees cannot be reimbursed from COAF.

COAF cannot be used to pay publication costs other than Open Access costs (for example, additional page or colour charges).

For more information read the Charity Open Access Fund FAQs for researchers.

To request payment of Open Access publication costs please complete the York OA Fund payment request form as soon as possible after submission of the paper to the publisher. We will contact you about the options available and next steps to take. When we pay Open Access costs we will pay publishers directly.


NIHR OA policy

National Institute for Health (NIHR) Policy on Open Access

Open Access forms an important component of the NIHR's Publications Policy. The full OA policy is available at:

Key features:

  • The NIHR Open Access policy applies to any peer-reviewed research articles (including review articles not commissioned by publishers, final reports or executive summaries) supported through NIHR funding and submitted for publication from 1st April 2014.
  • The NIHR preference is Gold OA, with the associated costs being supported by the original NIHR grant or the NIHR Open Access Fund (under development).
  • Where NIHR funds are used to pay an APC the publication should be published with a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence and allow for immediate deposit of the final published version in other repositories without restriction on re-use. The final, author accepted manuscript must be deposited with Europe PubMed Central upon acceptance, to be made freely available as soon as possible and within six months of publication.
  • The policy does not cover books, critical editions, volumes and catalogues, or forms of non-peer-reviewed material. However, the NIHR encourages authors of such material to consider making them Open Access where possible.

Additional note:

  • NIHR has purchased Supporters Scheme membership of BioMed Central. This entitles NIHR researchers to a 15% discount against any APC for a BioMed Central journal.

Horizon 2020

Horizon 2020 mandate

Outputs arising from research funded through the Horizon 2020 programmes of the European Commission are required to be made Open Access through either the Gold or Green route.

The Open Access mandate consists of two steps:

1. Beneficiaries must deposit a machine-readable electronic copy of the published version or final peer-reviewed manuscript accepted for publication in a repository. This condition can be met at York by depositing into PURE.

2. After depositing publications and, where possible, underlying data, beneficiaries must ensure open access to the deposited publication via the chosen repository. This can be achieved by following either:

a) Green route - to comply with this route, you will need to check whether your chosen journal offers a compliant embargo period (six months maximum, or twelve months for Social Sciences and Humanities). See Journal policies for more information.

b) Gold route - by paying an APC.

APC costs incurred by beneficiaries during Horizon2020 projects are eligible for reimbursement by the European Commission. APC costs incurred after the end of projects are not.

The FP7 post-grant open access pilot now offers funds to cover APCs for FP7 projects up to two years after they end. A maximum of three publications per FP7 project will be funded. Previously published FP7 publications are not eligible. Open access monographs are eligible.