A scientist's notebook and pens What is Open Access?

Open Access (OA) refers to the online availability of scholarly work, free of charge to anyone. Open Access facilitates the discovery and sharing of knowledge, giving your research more impact by increasing readership and citations. Many research funders now require outputs to be Open Access while journal articles and conference proceedings must be made Open Access to be eligible for the 2021 REF and beyond.

There are two ways to make your publications open access:

  • "Green" Open Access - Deposit a copy of the peer-reviewed manuscript in a repository such as Spiral; there is no cost involved.
  • "Gold" Open Access - Make the article open access immediately upon publication, through the publisher; usually this involves paying an Article Processing Charge (APC).

Since July 2015, the College has made a workflow available that allows authors to make their work Open Access (“green” and “gold”) to meet related funder requirements by completing a single form within Symplectic.

For more information visit the College's Open access page.

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Imperial College London is committed to disseminating its research and scholarship as widely as possible. In line with this it supports the principle that ‘the results of research that have been publicly funded should be freely accessible in the public domain’ and therefore it encourages all its academic and research staff and students to make their research available through open access (OA).  Imperial’s academics, researchers, staff and students are free to publish in journals of their choice. Where funders encourage or mandate open access, green open access (within the permitted embargo periods) should normally be the preferred route, unless funding for gold is available.

The College has implemented an open access mandate for all research publications, subject to publishers’ copyright policy, to be deposited in Spiral. From January 2012, this means authors are required to upload their final peer reviewed copy of the paper into Spiral. The mandate does not require deposit of papers published before 2012. However, papers published before this date can be added to Spiral if you want to do so.

Read more on the College OA policy and governance.

National and international research funders increasingly require open access to journal articles and conference proceedings. The Wellcome Trust policy also includes monographs. Funders with an open access policy include:

  • UK Reseach and Innovation (UKRI)
  • EU: FP7 and H2020
  • NIHR
  • Wellcome Trust
  • Arthritis Research UK
  • Breast Cancer Campaign
  • British Heart Foundation
  • Cancer Research UK
  • Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research

The Wellcome Trust is now imposing sanctions when open access requirements are not met.

For more information on funder policies visit the Research funders' open access policies page.

Research England on behalf of all UK funding councils, has announced that from 1st April 2016 journal articles and conference proceedings have to meet certain open access requirements to be eligible for the 2021 REF and beyond. These criteria apply regardless of research funder even if they differ from other funders’ criteria

Visit the Scholarly Communications website to find out how to make your research outputs REF-compliant.