Imperial's research publications open access policy
From 1 January 2024, the new Research Publications Open Access Policy comes into effect. This replaces the previous Open Access Policy which applied up until 31 December 2023.
Supporting open access publishing by rights retention
Imperial has updated its Open Access (OA) policy to allow researchers to make peer-reviewed journal articles and conference proceedings available on an OA basis without post-publication embargoes. The Research Publications Open Access Policy (RPOAP) enables those outputs to meet funder obligations and to be eligible for the next Research Excellence Framework (REF) exercise.
What is the Research Publications Open Access Policy?
Imperial undertook a one-time notification of 128 publishers at the end of 2023. New publishers will be added to the list regularly. Prior notification enables authors to retain their rights to the accepted manuscript by default. Authors will, again by default, grant a non-exclusive licence to Imperial to allow immediate sharing of the accepted manuscript via Spiral upon publication of the article.
RPOAP is a bold and innovative step towards a society where research is openly available for all to read and use. It empowers Imperial researchers to retain their right to share and reuse their work.
What do authors need to know?
Imperial introduced the RPOAP on 1 January 2024. It applies to all manuscripts and conference proceedings accepted for publication on or after that date, by all researchers and staff affiliated to Imperial.
There’s just one thing authors need to do. By uploading their peer-reviewed, accepted manuscript to Symplectic, at the point of acceptance, they will achieve compliance with RPOAP and funder OA policies as well as REF eligibility.
Most research articles will be compliant with RPOAP by default if published in a fully OA journal or via a publisher that Imperial has signed a transformative agreement with, which covers reading and publishing. These routes are known as Gold Open Access. RPOAP means any articles that can’t be made OA in those ways can be made OA immediately via Spiral. This is known as Green Open Access.
Why is Imperial introducing the Research Publications Open Access Policy?
Without rights retention, publishers can require authors to sign a Copyright Transfer Agreement to publish their articles and impose embargo periods lasting several years during which the article is not OA. Authors need to add a rights retention statement to every manuscript at the point of submission to retain the right to share and reuse their work without embargo. Under RPOAP, all of this changes.
RPOAP brings Imperial into line with universities in the UK and overseas that have implemented rights retention policies.
The ultimate question is: who decides? Should publishers get to decide what research readers see and what they can do with it, or should it be for the research community to decide for itself? RPOAP answers the question in favour of the community.
Key questions answered
What is the Research Publications Open Access Policy (RPOAP)?
Staff and researchers across Imperial help you make sense of the College’s new Open Access policy, which is in effect as of 1 January 2024. The policy enables Imperial authors to retain the right to share and reuse their work, and to make it Open Access as soon as it is published in a journal.
Read our blog post for Open Access Week
Read about the Research Publications Open Access Policy ahead of the launch
List of notified publishers
Find out which publishers have been notified about the new policy
list of notified publishers
Frequently asked questions
Why has Imperial implemented the Research Publications Open Access Policy?
The policy enables authors to make their research outputs openly available, ensuring wider and more equitable access to anyone wanting to read Imperial authored research. This policy is a revision of the College’s Open Access Policy, first implemented in 2012.
How does the rights retention approach work in the new policy?
Authors will retain copyright over their work. Under the policy, each author grants the College a non‐exclusive, irrevocable, sub-licensable, worldwide licence (effective from acceptance of publication) to make the AAM publicly available under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence. The right being granted is that of allowing the College to make the accepted manuscript openly available in Spiral without an embargo from the date of publication. The College does not retain the copyright to research outputs.
What do I have to do when I submit my manuscript to a journal?
- We would advise you check our list of notified publishers which will be updated regularly to find out if you need to add a rights retention statement to your accepted manuscript. If your publisher is on our list, submit your manuscript as you normally would and when it has been accepted for publication, please upload it to Symplectic, as you would previously done.
- If your publisher isn’t on our list of notified publishers, please contact the Open Access team who can arrange for notification. You can then submit your manuscript as soon as you need to, and we would advise you include the rights retention statement when you do submit. You only need to do this when submitting work to publishers not on the notified publishers list. We recommend using the following wording: For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a ‘Creative Commons Attribution’ (CC BY) licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising.
Which publishers have so far received formal prior notification of the new policy?
We notified publishers of the policy implementation date in November and December 2023. New publishers will be added to the list regularly. Please contact your librarian or the Open Access team if you have any questions about your publisher/s.
Can I still publish in a journal of my choosing?
I am a student. Does the new policy apply to me?
The RPOAP does apply to students including postgraduate taught, postgraduate research and undergraduate students. That means if you are publishing in a non-open access journal, you will be able to make your accepted manuscript openly available on publication. This means it will get to a much wider audience than if it were only accessible in a subscription journal. If you are an undergraduate or postgraduate taught student publishing a journal article or conference proceeding, please contact the Open Access team for advice about how to make your work available on open access.
Which research outputs are in scope of the new policy?
Peer-reviewed journal articles and conference proceedings accepted for publication from 1 January 2024.
Are there any exceptions to the new policy?
- You can request to opt-out of the policy on an article-by-article basis. Please follow the prompts outlined in the opt-out form. You should note that by opting out, your research output may not then meet the terms of your funders open access policy, or be eligible for submission to a future REF.
- If you are publishing in an open access journal, you do not have to deposit a copy of the accepted manuscript or version of record to Spiral, but you can choose to do so if you want.
I am the corresponding author on a multi-author paper. What should I do?
You should notify your co-authors that the RPOAP will apply to your published papers. When the paper is published all co-authors will be able to benefit from the paper being available open access in our repository. While co-authors can then deposit a copy of the manuscript in their institutional repositories, we’d advise providing co-authors with a link to the accepted manuscript in Spiral to reduce duplication.
I am not the corresponding author, what should I do?
- You should make your co-author(s) aware of the Research Publications Open Access Policy. It is likely to be easiest for the corresponding author to handle any correspondence between the co-authors. When the paper is published all co-authors will be able to benefit from the paper being available open access in our repository.
- Where the number of co-authors is too large for a discussion of the policy requirement to be practical, then you should notify the corresponding author of the requirement of the policy. The corresponding author can then handle any communication among the co-authors.
I am submitting work to an open access journal/publisher. What do I need to do?
Open access publishers do not have to be notified of RPOAP, and you can submit your work to their journals as you normally would. You do not have to deposit a copy of the accepted manuscript or version of record to Spiral, but you can choose to do so if you want.
My publisher isn’t on the list of notified publishers. What do I do?
If your publisher isn’t on our list of notified publishers, please contact the Open Access team who can arrange for notification. You can then submit your manuscript as soon as you need to, and we would advise you include the rights retention statement when you do submit. You only need to do this when submitting work to publishers not on the notified publishers list. We recommend using the following wording: For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a ‘Creative Commons Attribution’ (CC BY) licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising.
I deposit my work in arXiv, do I still have to deposit in Spiral?
If the version you have deposited in arXiv is the accepted version, then you can add the link to the OA location field in Symplectic Elements. You should choose the CC BY licence to be applied to this version in arXiv.
Please send the following statement to the Open Access team to confirm the preprint is the accepted version:
Dear Open Access Team,
I, the author of TITLE, DOI/CITATION, can confirm that the version of the paper currently held in PREPRINT SERVER NAME:PREPRINT NUMBER, version 1/2/3/4 etc., is the accepted manuscript version of this paper, which was submitted to PREPRINT NAME on INSERT PREPRINT DEPOSIT DATE, prior to its first publication on PUBLICATION DATE.
Kind regards, AUTHOR’S NAME
I am funded by UKRI or Wellcome Trust. Do I still need to include a rights retention statement in my submitted manuscript?
If you are publishing with a full OA publisher or your publisher is on the list of those notified, you do not need to include a rights retention statement. If your publisher has not been notified, we would advise that you include a rights retention statement, and contact the Open Access team firstname.lastname@example.org who can arrange for notification. See our UKRI and Wellcome Trust policy pages for information about their open access policy requirements, and the wording for the relevant statement. If you are funded by both UKRI and Wellcome Trust, you may use either funder’s wording for the statement, as they both have the same purpose.