Skip to Main Content

Open Access & Institutional Repository: REF and open access

Future of REF

REF after 2021? 

The Future Research Assessment Programme aims to explore possible approaches to the assessment of UK higher education research performance and is expected to conclude towards the end of 2022.

What was REF2021?

The REF (Research Excellence Framework) was a research assessment to secure the continuation of a world-class, dynamic and responsive research base across the full academic spectrum within UK higher education. 

REF2021 open access policy stated that, to be eligible for submission to the REF2021, authors’ final peer-reviewed manuscripts (journal articles and conference proceedings) must have been deposited in an institutional or subject repository on acceptance for publication. This policy applied to research outputs accepted for publication after 1 April 2016, and is expected to continue post-REF2021 although details of the future research assessment programme are under discussion.

The three purposes of the REF:

  • To provide accountability for public investment in research and produce evidence of the benefits of this investment.
  • To provide benchmarking information and establish reputational yardsticks, for use within the HE sector and for public information.
  • To inform the selective allocation of funding for research. 

Ensure your journal articles and conference proceedings are eligible for submission to the next research excellence exercise:

  • On acceptance create a basic record in PURE
  • This has to be done within 3 months of acceptance unless an exception applies.
  • Include your DOI if known.
  • Upload your Accepted Manuscript (AM) or send a copy of the AM with a link to your PURE record to
  • For instructions about publicity and press embargoes, see the box called, 'Dealing with press and publicity restrictions' at


Please visit the REF website for more information.


What the Library will do

  • Add the correct manuscript embargo if required
  • Add the correct licence information to support reuse
  • Update your record with complete metadata, including published dates, when available
  • Provide you with advice and answer queries. email
  • Check your accepted manuscript supports an in-text search


Research England stated that for REF2021: 

"Any output submitted to the next REF that falls within the scope of this policy but does not meet its requirements or exceptions will be treated as non-compliant. Non-compliant outputs will be given an unclassified score and will not be assessed in the REF."

Thinking ahead to REF2028? The open access policy relating to journal articles and conference proceedings is expected to continue for the REF-after-REF2021.

Journal article versions

Journal Article VersionsDiagram showing that the submitted and accepted manuscript versions of an article are author owned, and the proof and final version of record are publisher owned

Created by the Office of Scholarly Communication, Cambridge University Libraries, available under a CC BY licence 

Contact Us

For help or advice with any Open Access or institutional repository (ePrints Soton) query: