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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?

The 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 spreadsheet along with an explanation of the evidence required, example text to be used as supporting evidence and who is responsible for providing/identifying this evidence. 

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. Where one of these exceptions applies, the output will not be required to meet any of the open access criteria, and will be considered beyond the scope of this policy. 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 of the REF Open Access policy.

An Access exception will be required for all non-compliant outputs within the scope of REF Open Access Policy, and for which no deposit exception has been recorded.
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 will be required, and the open access requirements should be met as soon as possible, where possible.

Technical and other exceptions
The following exceptions deal with cases where an output is unable to meet the criteria due to a technical issue, or some other reasons which may be permitted for the REF. In the following cases, the output will not be required to meet the requirements of the REF Open Access policy.
EXCEPTION EVIDENCE REQUIRED FOR AUDIT EXAMPLE TEXT WHICH COULD BE PROVIDED AS SUPPORTING EVIDENCE BY AUTHOR /  UoAs Notes re: evidence required WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR IDENTIFYING IF APPLICABLE
38a: The individual whose output is being submitted to the REF was unable to secure the use of a repository at the point of acceptance. Descriptive explanation of situation and difficulties encountered required, and where applicable data held as evidencing use of this exception must respect individual’s privacy.

We cannot foresee circumstances in which a Staffordshire University author would apply this exception.

See also exceptions 38c (not employed at a UK HEI at time of submission), 40a (not employed at Staffordshire University at time of acceptance) or 40b (technical failure prevented deposit) 

Staffordshire University author of output
38b: The individual whose output is being submitted to the REF experienced a delay in securing the final peer-reviewed text (for instance, where a paper has multiple authors). Descriptive explanation of difficulties encountered required, and where applicable data held as evidencing use of this exception must respect individual’s privacy.

The corresponding author ([insert author name], [insert author ORCiD if known]), of the article ([insert DOI]) did not provide me with a copy of the accepted manuscript to deposit in STORE within the required deposit timeframe.

[If applicable:] The corresponding author has ensured that this met the REF OA requirements and the output is available from repository [insert repository name], and was deposited there on [insert date].

Staffordshire University author of output
38c: The individual whose output is being submitted to the REF was not employed by a UK HEI at the time of submission for publication.

Evidence of submission date if available (e.g. from publisher website).

Evidence that author was not employed by submitting HEI at that point.

This article was originally submitted to the journal on [insert date here]. I was not employed by Staffordshire University University at that time, and I confirm I was employed by [insert employer and country] at this time.

Staffordshire University author of output

Employment dates at Staffordshire University will be determined within the REF database.

38d: It would be unlawful to deposit, or request the deposit of, the output.

Reasonable and descriptive explanation of difficulties encountered (where lawful to collect and record).

Note, that this exception cannot be used where a journal’s open access policy prohibits the article form meeting the REF requirements, or where the inclusion of third party copyright prevents access to an output. These are covered by other exceptions.

It would be unlawful to deposit this output because… [insert reasons here]

NOTE: It is unlikely that this exception will apply to the vast majority of journal articles and conference papers, which will be published and in the public domain in any case.

See also exceptions 39b and 39c, where the self-archiving permissions granted to an author by a journal do not meet the requirements of REF OA policy, but this was the most appropriate journal for the article to have been published in.

Staffordshire University author of output &  the submitting UoA
38e: Depositing the output would present a security risk. Reasonable and descriptive explanation of difficulties encountered (where lawful to collect and record). Depositing this output would constitute a security risk because… [insert reasons here]

NOTE: It is unlikely that this exception will apply to the vast majority of journal articles and conference papers, which will be published and in the public domain in any case.

See also exceptions 39b and 39c, where the self-archiving permissions granted to an author to not meet the requirements of REF OA policy but this was the most appropriate journal for the article to have been published in.

Staffordshire University author of output & the submitting UoA
38f: The output was published as ‘gold’ open access (for example, RCUK-funded projects where an open access article processing charge has been paid) Staffordshire University University still expects authors to meet the requirements of the University Open Access policy, and HEFCE “strongly encourage these outputs to be deposited in a repository to facilitate preservation, aggregation and text-mining.” This article was published as ‘gold’ open access and is available from [enter DOI here] The Library monitors and applies this exception. Please let us know if your article is published as ‘gold’ open access.

N/A [Applicable only to articles accepted for publication between 1st April 2016 and 1st April 2018]

The article was not deposited within 3 months of the date of acceptance, but was deposited in STORE within 3 months of the date of publication

Not required Not required Not required No action required – this has already been accounted for in the REF database

38g: [Applicable only to articles accepted for publication after 1st April 2018]

The output was not deposited within three months of acceptance date, but was deposited within three months of the earliest date of publication.

Awaiting further information from HEFCE.

We would advise Staffordshire University authors to provide a short descriptive explanation as to any situation or difficulties encountered which account for the later deposit of the output.

I was unable to deposit the accepted manuscript prior to the date of publication due to:

(1) an agreed publicity embargo with the publisher.
(2) substantial changes being made to the article following acceptance and peer-review, which I was seeking permission from the publisher to reflect in the manuscript version deposited in the repository.
(3) [insert another reason here]

IMPORTANT NOTE: In most cases, whilst an author may have a personal preference to refrain from depositing until after publication, please note that the REF audit may require a valid reason as to why the author could not deposit upon acceptance. If the relevant REF Panel do not accept the reason given, it is possible this output will receive an ungraded score in the REF. Staffordshire University author of output

 

EXCEPTION EVIDENCE REQUIRED FOR AUDIT EXAMPLE TEXT WHICH COULD BE PROVIDED AS SUPPORTING EVIDENCE BY AUTHOR /  UoAs Notes re: evidence required WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR IDENTIFYING IF APPLICABLE
39a: 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). Descriptive explanation of situation and difficulties encountered, where it is not obvious that the output depends on third-party material. This output contains third party copyright material. Whilst permission was granted to include this within the published version of the article accessible by subscribers only, permission was not granted for deposit in an open access repository. The inclusion of this third party copyrighted material is fundamental to the understanding of the output, and so provision of access to the article as a whole has not been possible.

Staffordshire University author of output

Authors are advised to contact the STORE team if they believe this exception may apply.

39b: The publication concerned requires an embargo period that exceeds the stated maxima, and was the most appropriate publication for the output

Short explanation confirming that as the author, this journal was the most appropriate venue for publishing your research.

Author’s are expected to be aware of the requirements of their funder’s and the REF Open Access policy, and to take these into account alongside other factors in deciding where is the most appropriate venue to publish their research.

The choice of where to publish research outputs remains the choice of the author.

Guidance on selecting a journal in your subject area, and information on the open access permissions individual journals might offer, can be sought from your School.

As the author, I confirm this was the most appropriate journal in which to publish this article. Other options which do meet the REF Open Access policy requirements were considered, but were deemed not to be the most appropriate venue to reach the most appropriate audience for this research.

Staffordshire University author of output

Authors are advised to contact the STORE team if they are unsure if this exception may apply.

39c: The publication concerned actively disallows open access deposit in a repository, and was the most appropriate publication for the output.

Short explanation confirming that as the author, this journal was the most appropriate venue for publishing your research.
Author’s are expected to be aware of the requirements of their funder’s and the REF Open Access policy, and to take these into account alongside other factors in deciding where is the most appropriate venue to publish their research.

The choice of where to publish research outputs remains the choice of the author.

As the author, I confirm this was the most appropriate journal in which to publish this article. Other options which do meet the REF Open Access policy requirements were considered, but were deemed not to be the most appropriate venue to reach the most appropriate audience for this research.

Staffordshire University author of output

Authors are advised to contact the STORE team if they are unsure if this exception may apply.

 

EXCEPTION EVIDENCE REQUIRED FOR AUDIT EXAMPLE TEXT WHICH COULD BE PROVIDED AS SUPPORTING EVIDENCE BY AUTHOR /  UoAs Notes re: evidence required WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR IDENTIFYING IF APPLICABLE
40a: At the point of acceptance, the individual whose output is being submitted to the REF was at a different UK HEI which failed to comply with the criteria. Evidence that author was not employed by submitting HEI on the date of acceptance. This article was originally accepted by the journal on [insert date here]. I was not employed by Staffordshire University at that time. I was employed at [INSERT INSTITUTION NAME HERE]

Staffordshire University author of output

Employment dates will be determined within the REF database.

40b: The repository experienced a short-term or transient technical failure that prevented compliance with the criteria (this should not apply to systemic issues). Reasonable and descriptive explanation of technical failure. N/A - If this exception is selected by an author, this will be confirmed against system logs to confirm it matches a period where access was lost for an extended period whihc prevented meeting the REF OA requirements. Library/Digital Services to evidence
40c: An external service provider failure prevented compliance Reasonable and descriptive explanation of technical failure.

Please detail what the external service provider is, and why you believe they failed to meet the requirements.

Please contact the library for advice if required.

Staffordshire University author of output
EXCEPTION EVIDENCE REQUIRED FOR AUDIT EXAMPLE TEXT WHICH COULD BE PROVIDED AS SUPPORTING EVIDENCE BY AUTHOR /  UoAs Notes re: evidence required WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR IDENTIFYING IF APPLICABLE
41: In very exceptional cases, it may not be possible for an output to meet the open access requirements set out by this policy for a reason not covered by the exceptions detailed in the policy.
REF audit expects such cases to be extremely rare, but will establish a process for considering such items
A short written explanation for why the output could not meet the open access requirements at the point of submission to the REF Please provide details to explain why this output did not meet the requirements. If these are related to any personal or private circumstances, please discuss with the REF Team or your assigned Unit of Assessment. Staffordshire University author of output

 

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