What do the new UK open-access policies mean for authors?

Starting April 1, authors in the UK will have three routes to publishing publicly funded research

Alicia Wise, PhD

The Author

As Director of Universal Access for Elsevier, Dr. Alicia Wise (@wisealic) is responsible for delivering Elsevier's vision for universal access to high-quality scientific publications. She leads strategy and policy in areas such as open access, philanthropic access programs, content accessibility, and access technologies. Based in Oxford, she has a PhD in anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


April will be a busy month for open access, particularly for UK authors. On April 1, new open access policies come into effect at the Wellcome Trust and the Research Councils UK (RCUK). All eyes are on the UK to see how successful its new approach will be.

As the political discussions continue, we thought it was important for UK researchers — and everyone else — to understand what exactly the policies are and how authors can comply with Elsevier journals.

What are the new open-access policies?

<strong>The Publishers Association decision tree</strong> (endorsed by BIS and RCUK)

The policies are based on recommendations by a broad array of stakeholders who envisaged a managed transition to open-access publishing over a number of years.

To help authors understand the details, the Publishers Association has published an author decision tree. The tree outlines three routes for authors wanting to publish UK publically funded research.

1. The first route is to publish in a journal that is either open access or has an option to publish open access. Authors can use funds provided by Research Councils UK or the Wellcome Trust to pay for publication fees associated with publishing open access. Publishing this way is referred to as Immediate Gold OA in the decision tree.

2. The second route applies when their journal of choice offers open access but the authors do not have funds available to pay the publication fee. In this case, the policy states that authors can publish in a subscription journal and — after an embargo period of at least 12 months (for science, technology and medicine) or at least 24 months (for humanities and social sciences) — self-archive and post their manuscript on their institutional repository. This is referred to in the decision tree as Green OA after 12-24 months.

3. The last route is for authors whose journal of choice does not have an option to publish open access. In this case, in order to be compliant with UK policies, the publisher should permit authors to self-archive and post their manuscripts on their institutional repository within six months of publication for science, technology and medicine or 12 months for humanities and social sciences. This is referred to in the decision tree as Green OA after 6 months.

Elsevier supports all three options, and we are currently deploying options 1 and 2 across all of our journals. We offer option 1 in open-access journals and via open articles for all authors, and option 2 with embargos of 12-48 months for authors funded by the Research Councils UK and the Wellcome Trust.

What are the open-access options for Elsevier journals?

Elsevier publishes over 35 open-access journals and provides the option for authors to publish open access in more than 1,500 established journals via our open-access articles. For all open-access articles, published in either an Elsevier open-access journal or via our Open Access Article option, we offer different user licenses. The choice is dependent on the journal in which you choose to publish. Please refer to the journal's homepage for specific details. The article publishing fee is journal-specific and ranges from $500 to $5,000 to reflect the diversity and range of Elsevier journals.

Elsevier is actively engaged with the research community and is committed to providing authors with a choice of options that can be tailored to their publishing needs.


Funding body agreements

Elsevier has established agreements and developed policies to enable authors who publish in Elsevier journals to comply with open access policies of various UK funding bodies, as specified as conditions of researcher grant awards. For details on these agreements, please see elsevier.com/fundingbodies.


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4 Archived Comments

Alicia Wise May 12, 2013 at 8:55 am

Hi Emma -

It can be confusing!! In simple terms, some funding bodies or institutions will make funds available either as part of the grant, or separately, to pay for open access publication fees.

RCUK, for example, has enabled UK universities to administer these publication fees via a block grant of money on behalf of all employees funded by RCUK. If you are a RCUK funded author we would suggest that you discuss open access arrangements with your institution.

Further details about how some other specific funding bodies cover publication costs are available here: www.elsevier.com/fundingbodies - if organizations relevant to you are not listed here you might reach out to your campus librarian to ask for assistance or else leave another message here with the name of your instituion/funder and I'll see what we can find out for you.

With kind wishes,


Daisuke Nishio April 2, 2013 at 12:13 pm

I understood the new UK open-access policies mean for authors.

emma May 7, 2013 at 9:46 am

what does it mean for writers in simple terms, is there funding for research? find open access rather confusing!

Hadi March 29, 2013 at 6:00 pm

UK open-access policies means greater access to investigations, for everyone, in all around the world.


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