HEFCE has announced the final form of the Open Access policy that will apply to research outputs funded through the period of the next research evaluation exercise in the UK, the Research Excellence Framework.
The policy is very significant. The REF is a periodic exercise that all British universities and their researchers take extremely seriously as it determines their funding for the next period, so any policy around the REF is certain to be implemented in universities.
This policy requires all journal articles and peer-reviewed conference papers to be deposited in a repository at the time of acceptance for publication, and made Open Access as soon as possible. Where there is no publisher embargo this must be immediately, but embargoes of 12 months in STEM disciplines and 24 Months in HaSS disciplines are permissible, aligning the new policy with the existing permitted embargo periods enshrined in the RCUK policy.
This policy will certainly increase the UK’s Open Access levels over the coming years and serves as a well-designed template for other funders, even when a national research evaluation exercise is not the norm.
More on the policy can be found in an article by Alma Swan here: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2014/04/01/hefce-open-access-ref-gamechanger/.