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Research Publishing: What is REF 2021?

A guide for Staffordshire University Researchers

Explanation of REF 2021

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the UK's system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The next exercise will take place in 2021.
To find out more about the next REF visit the REF 2021 or talk to a member of the STORE team.
 
REF 2021 guidance:
The policy will require outputs to be deposited as soon after the point of acceptance as possible, and no later than three months after this date (as given in the acceptance letter or email from the publication to the author) from 1 April 2018.
For the purposes of REF we need the version after acceptance, but before it has been typeset by the publishers - so the raw unadulterated version. It is usually in Word format (but can be a PDF), it will usually have no information about the publisher, or reference to the journal, volume etc.

What you need to do

What do I need to do to?

You will need to deposit your research in STORE (STaffordshire university Online REpository)

For Manuscripts please deposit the Author Accepted Manuscript on acceptance of your paper. Outputs that fail to meet the criteria of deposit within 3 months of acceptance cannot be submitted to the REF. If there is a genuine reason for non-deposit within this timescale, please refer to the exceptions guidance below and send the STORE team your exceptions statement with details of your deposit.

For all other research outputs please deposit the item in STORE as soon as possible after publication/creation.

If you are unsure of your deposit type please contact the STORE team

 

What is an Author Accepted Manuscript?

Publishing processThe author’s final, accepted manuscript is the one that has been agreed with the editor at that point. The accepted manuscript is not the same as the copy-edited, typeset or published paper – these versions are known as ‘proofs’ or ‘versions of record’ and publishers do not normally allow authors to make these open-access.‌

 

What is meant by the date of acceptance?

HEFCE define the date of acceptance as the point at which the author is notified that:

  • their output has been reviewed by the journal or conference (normally via peer review)
  • all academically necessary changes have been made in response to that review
  • the output is ready to be taken through the final steps toward publication (normally copy-editing and typesetting).

By this point, the paper should have been updated to include all changes resulting from peer review as well as any changes of an academic nature requested by the journal editor or conference organiser.

 

Does the REF policy require deposit within 3 months of acceptance, or publication?

The REF policy requires papers to be uploaded within 3 months after first online publication during the first year of the policy, and then within 3 months of acceptance from April 2018.

 

What happens once I have deposited my research?

The STORE team will check the deposit to make sure it is compliant with the REF Open Access policy. They will check to see if an embargo period needs to be applied to the manuscript and check the correct license is applied to the output. They will also check that the correct version of the manuscript has been deposited. The deposit is given a final QC by the librarian and then it will be made 'live' in the repository. The team will contact you if they have any questions about the output.

 

Help and support

Do not hesitate to contact the STORE team for further assistance or training.

Exceptions

Overview of compliance     

To be compliant with the REF OA policy outputs will need to be deposited as soon after the point of acceptance as possible, and no later than three months after this date (as given in the acceptance letter or email from the publication to the author) from 1 April 2018. 

Authors should ensure that their outputs which fall within the scope of the REF Open Access policy meet the requirements of the policy if they are to be eligible for REF submission. In certain circumstances it is understood that it is has not been possible to meet the compliance requirements of the policy. The policy does in these circumstances allow for a number of exceptions to be applied where relevant.

How to apply an exception 

These exceptions are listed within this guide.

If possible authors should indicate a possible exception when they add their publication to STORE - please email the STORE team with the relevant evidence / supporting statement. For publications already added to STORE please also contact the STORE team with the information. 

Overview of the exceptions (see individual tabs for details)

Deposit exceptions

 

The following exceptions deal with cases where the output is unable to meet the deposit requirements. In the cases listed, the output will not be required to meet any of the open access criteria (deposit, discovery or access requirements). However, Staffordshire University authors are expected to ensure their article is made open access wherever possible, in line with both the REF the university’s open access policy.

 

Access exceptions

The following exceptions deal with cases where deposit of the output is possible, but there are issues to do with meeting the access requirements. In the following cases, the output will still be required to meet the deposit and discovery requirements, but not the access requirements. A closed-access deposit, where allowed, will be required.

Technical and other exceptions


The following exceptions deal with cases where an output is unable to meet the criteria due to a technical issue. In the following cases, the output will not be required to meet the open access criteria (deposit, discovery or access requirements).

Two further exceptions to the policy are outlined under this section.

Deposit exceptions

252. The following exceptions deal with cases where the output is unable to meet the
deposit requirements. In the following cases, the output will not be required to meet any
of the open access criteria (deposit, discovery or access requirements).

a. At the point of acceptance, it was not possible to secure the use of a repository.

b. There was a delay in securing the final peer-reviewed text (for instance, where
a paper has multiple authors).

c. The staff member to whom the output is attributed was not employed on a
Category A eligible contract by a UK HEI (defined in paragraphs 52 to 63) at the
time of submission for publication.

d. It would be unlawful to deposit, or request the deposit of, the output.

e. Depositing the output would present a security risk.

Access exceptions

253. The following exceptions deal with cases where deposit of the output is possible, but
there are issues to do with meeting the access requirements. In the following cases, the
output will still be required to meet the deposit and discovery requirements, but not the
access requirements. A closed-access deposit, where allowed, will be required.

a. The output depends on the reproduction of third-party content for which open
access rights could not be granted (either within the specified timescales, or at all).

b. The publication concerned requires an embargo period that exceeds the stated
maxima, and was the most appropriate publication for the output.

c. The publication concerned actively disallows open-access deposit in a repository,
and was the most appropriate publication for the output.

Technical exceptions


254. The following exceptions deal with cases where an output is unable to meet the criteria
due to a technical issue. In the following cases, the output will not be required to meet the
open access criteria (deposit, discovery or access requirements).

a. At the point of acceptance, the staff member to whom the output is attributed
was employed at a different UK HEI, and it has not been possible to determine
compliance with the criteria.

b. The repository experienced a short-term or transient technical failure that
prevented compliance with the criteria (this should not apply to systemic issues).

c. An external service provider failure prevented compliance (for instance, a subject
repository did not enable open access at the end of the embargo period, or
a subject repository ceased to operate).


Further exceptions


255. Two further exceptions to the policy are outlined below:

a. ‘Other exception’ should be used where an output is unable to meet the criteria
due to circumstances beyond the control of the HEI, including extenuating personal
circumstances of the author (such as periods of extended leave), industrial
action, closure days, and software problems beyond those listed in the technical
exceptions. If ‘other’ exception is selected, the output will not need to meet the
open access criteria (deposit, discovery or access requirements).

b. The output was not deposited within three months of acceptance date, but was
deposited within three months of the earliest date of publication. In this instance,
the output will need to meet all other policy requirements. This exception does
not need to be applied retrospectively to outputs compliant with the policy from
1 April 2016 to 1 April 2018 which fulfilled the policy requirements within three
months of publication.

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