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cOAlition S urges the four UK higher education funding bodies to adopt a stronger Open Access policy for the next Research Excellence Framework


cOAlition S, an international consortium of research funding and performing organisations, has provided feedback on the draft open access (OA) policy for the UK’s next Research Excellence Framework (REF) in 2029, suggesting revisions for closer alignment with Plan S and with global calls towards making publicly-funded research outputs freely available.

In its response, cOAlition S acknowledges the evolving open access landscape since REF 2021, with growing worldwide recognition of the benefits that open access can provide. These include increasing research efficiency, impact and value for money, and enabling researchers – across all disciplines – to publish without financial barriers in the interest of global equity.  However, cOAlition S believes that the proposed REF requirements lag behind OA policies developed by most funders in Europe and the United States and suggests several key areas for consideration: 

  • Eliminating all embargoes for in-scope research outputs (like journal articles and conference proceedings).
  • Requiring all in-scope research outputs to use open licences (aligning with the UKRI open access policy) and be deposited in institutional repositories to enable full and easy re-use.
  • Recognising peer-reviewed preprints as meeting the 2029 REF OA requirements to accelerate dissemination, as outlined in cOAlition S’s Towards Responsible Publishing” proposal.
  • Reducing the maximum embargo for long-form publications from 24 months to 12 months, in line with the approach of UKRI and Plan S.
  • Ensuring long-form publications are made Open Access, even if third-party material licensing cannot be granted.