What is the REF?

Research Excellence Framework, or REF for short, is the name given to the process of assessing the quality of research carried out in UK HEIs. The submission for REF 2021 has now occurred, but the same requirements for open access apply going forward.

Why is the REF important to Edinburgh Napier University?

The quality of research produced at the university, as assessed by the REF, affects the future funding and academic reputation of the university.

How do I comply with the open access requirements of the next REF?

What is a ‘closed deposit’?

  • To comply with your publisher and/or funder embargoes, deposit your work in the research repository immediately but we may need to keep it as closed access for a specific period of time.
  • The library’s repository team will make sure that any embargo periods are properly applied to files.
  • When the closed access period expires, the work automatically becomes open access.

What is ‘evidence of acceptance’?

It is proof that your research has been accepted for publication on a particular date – the REF guidance requires that we keep track of this information. Please forward the acceptance email to

Is there a deadline to deposit my work in the Repository when it’s accepted for publication?

Yes, and it’s very important you deposit your research as soon as your work is accepted for publication. The rule allows three months to deposit in the research repository but if you miss the deadline, your research will not be eligible for the REF.

When did these open access rules come into force?

All journal articles, and conference papers with an ISSN, published after 1st April 2016 must be open access. An updated policy will start sometime around 2023, but for the time being, the rules stated above still apply.


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