REF2021 Open Access Policy

From 1 April 2016, to be eligible for submission to REF2021, all journal articles and conference papers published with an ISSN must be deposited in WestminsterResearch, via the VRE, within 3 months of acceptance.

How to comply

On acceptance, upload a copy of your accepted author manuscript including date of acceptance to the Virtual Research Environment (VRE).  The repository team will then check for missing information and ensure publishers' copyright policies are complied with, including adding embargoes, before publishing the record to our open access institutional repository WestminsterResearchGo to WestminsterResearch site.

What about papers published before 1 April 2016?

Articles and conference papers published from 1 January 2014 to 31 March 2016 will still be eligible for REF2021, and for these the inclusion of full-text is encouraged, but not compulsory.

Full-text embargoes

Some publishers insist on an embargo period before the author manuscript version can be made openly available. You should still add the manuscript to the VRE within three months of acceptance, as this ‘closed’ deposit still meets the REF open access criteria. The REF states maximum embargo periods:

  • 12 months for REF Panels A and B
  • 24 months for REF Panels C and D

You can check embargo periods for most journals through SHERPA RoMEO.

By complying with the University’s Open Access Policy, you will be fully compliant for REF2021.


We have created a list of FAQs relating to the policy, including possible exceptions. 


If you have a query please check the answers first, then email, [email protected].