United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

The UK has a strong history of the development and implementation of Open Access. The first institutional repositories were developed in the UK and it has also been the home for several major Open Access publishing developments as well as being a site of innovation in scholarly communication more generally. The Wellcome Trust, one of the world’s larges biomedical charities, alongside the government Medical Research Council has been a consistent leader in requiring its funded researchers to make publications Open Access and was the major original driver behind Europe PubMedCentral. 

The UK Government has taken a strong stance on Open Access and taken a leading role in implementation. UK government and charitable research funders have some of the strongest Open Access policies. UK universities are leaders in the provision of open access infrastructure. This has made Open Access a mainstream issue for UK researchers in a way that it is often not in other countries and awareness is extremely high. There are currently 608 OA journals published in UK which are indexed in DOAJ and 228 OA repositories registered in OpenDOAR.

Enabling Environment:

Most UK research intensive institutions have an institutional repository with a significant number having institutional deposit mandates and being signatory to the Berlin Declaration. 

The UK government has taken a strong stance on Open Access and the major government funders, the seven Research Councils have very strong, albeit controversial, policies. Other government agencies are developing policies in line with the Government position as articulated through the response to the Finch Report. 

The Open Access Implementation Group, a stakeholder grouping of institutions, OA publishers, funders, and community organizations supports implementation and provision of information on public access. The Wellcome Trust, Research Councils, other funders, and Jisc have all provided infrastructure support and development. 

Potential Barriers:

As a nation taking a lead on Open Access policy the UK has good infrastructure and policy support. The two largest challenges arise from the large proportion of traditional publishers based in the UK, which is perceived driven the policy agenda in part, and the negative response from some portions of the academic community. 

The strong policy agenda has raised disagreements and controversy over the details of implementation and lead to opposition from some quarters. There is both objection to policy implementation from traditional publishers that the provision of funding to cover their transitional costs is insufficient and objection from the academic community that policy has benefited traditional publishers too much. At the same time there is controversy over the balance between repository-mediated and journal-mediated access both as the overall target and as the means of transition

Major Projects/Initiatives:

OAPEN-UK: Commenced in October 2010 and is due to run until summer 2015. OAPEN-UK is a collaborative research project funded by JISC and the AHRC, which aims to help stakeholders make informed decisions on the future of open access scholarly monograph publishing in the humanities and social sciences (HSS). 

The UK government has taken direct action on Open Access policy through the Finch process. 

UK institutions have taken an international lead in development of repository infrastructure that underpins repository-mediated access. 

National and Institutional Level Policies/Mandates:

27 May 2015: UCL announced the launch of UCL Press, UK's first fully Open Access university press.

2015: RCUK announced the amounts it will be paying to institutions in the next block grant to support the implementation of its open access policy. For 2015/16, RCUK will make available a total of £22.6 million.

UK (G8) Review in March 2014: Government delivered the Defra network open data strategy which includes widening access to agricultural and other research data.1 October 2014: Launch of initial pilot phase of 2 years of the newly established Charity Open Access Fund  (COAF); Partners: Wellcome Trust, Arthritis Research UK, Breast Cancer Campaign, the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Leukemia & Lymphoma Research). 

June 2013: UK government developed an Open Data Charter consisting of principles and minimum technical standards for countries releasing Open Data.

Research Council UK (RCUK), a consortium of seven research councils in UK that fund research in 170 educational institutions, have established an OA policy effectively requiring all funded researchers to make adopt OA in conjunction with three major academic publishers: Macmillan, Blackwell and Elsevier.

Other funding bodies such as Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK and British Heart Foundation have endorsed OA policies. A full list of these is available on JULIET.

JULIET offers a directory of research funders archiving mandates and guidelines; As of May 2015, 17 funders are named for UK, varying in size and impact. The following list gives the 7 main research organisations in UK who are publicly funded and required to comply with Research Council UK’s open access although this may be interpreted as appropriate to the individual institution.
Communication address: Information Services, University of Nottingham, UK  e-mail: juliet(at)sherpa.ac.uk

Arts and Humanities Research Council: AHRC
Overview: To promote and support the production of world-class research in the arts and humanities, to effectively advocate for the arts and humanities though raising its profile and significance and by encouraging researchers to disseminate and transfer knowledge for maximum impact. Funded from the Government's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).
OA mandate: Requires deposition of peer-reviewed journals and conference papers Open Access archives at the earliest possible opportunity;  Metadata must be deposited at the date of publication; AHRC should be acknowledged as funder, with grant number.
Communication address: AHRC Polaris House North Star Avenue, Swindon SN2 1FL; e-mail: enquiries(at)ahrc.ac.uk

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council: BBSRC
Overview: To promote and support, high-quality basic, strategic and applied research and related postgraduate training in the non-clinical life sciences. To advance knowledge and technology (including the promotion and support of the exploitation of research outcomes), and provide trained scientists and engineers, thereby contributing to the economic competitiveness of the United Kingdom and the quality of life. Supports UKPubMed Central.
OA mandate: Requires deposition of peer-reviewed publications and conference papers in full text wherever possible at time of publication. Deposit is required in an appropriate Open Access repository and optional deposit may be made to named repositories or UK PubMed Central. BBSRC should be acknowledged as funder, with grant number.

Communication address: BBSRC, Polaris House. North Star Avenue, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN2 1UH e-mail: data.sharing(at)bbsrc.ac.uk

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council: EPSRC
Overview: EPSRC supports excellent, long term research and high quality postgraduate training in order to contribute to the economic competitiveness of the UK and the quality of life of its people. At any one time we are supporting a portfolio of research and training between £2-3billion.
OA mandate: All projects funded totally or partly by EPSRC must deposit all peer-reviewed journal articles and conference publications either by self-archiving or paid open access publication; open access costs may be included in funding applications; authors may choose the journal most appropriate to their research. Peer-reviewed journal articles and conference papers must be
Web links:
Communication address: EPSRC, Polaris House, North Star Avenue, Swindon SN2 1ET; Email infoline(at)epsrc.ac.uk

Economic and Social Research Council: ESRC
Overview: ESRC is UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues, supporting independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. ESRC has a budget of £203 million for 2011/12. At any one time we support over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes.
OA mandate:  All grant holders must deposit data resulting from an award to the UK Data Archive, and make details of grant outcomes and outputs available through the ESRC research catalogue. Publishers’ version and/or author’s final copy of peer-reviewed articles and conference papers must be deposited in an open-access archive in the UK Data Archive with and optional deposit to be made in an appropriate institutional repository.
Communication address: Economic and Social Research Council, Polaris House, North Star Avenue, Swindon, SN2 1UJ. Tel: 01793 413000; Fax: 01793 413001.

Medical Research Council: MRC
Overview: The MRC’s remit covers the full range of medical research from studies of molecules to the implementation of research findings into clinical practice. This includes such topics as: the use of animals in research; antibiotic resistance; brain sciences; intensive care; public health and patient safety research.
OA mandate: Peer-reviewed publications following all MRC funded work must be deposited at the earliest possible opportunity and within 6 months of publication in OA archives through institutional repositories, PubMed Central and UKPubMed Central. MRC should be acknowledged as funder, with grant number; costs of access provision may be recovered on a not-for-profit basis, MRC allows pre-documented exclusivity periods on primary and secondary data. Data sharing plans and conditions for access must be documented in n proposals, study-specific access statements and data sharing agreements. Ethical, legal and institutional regulatory permission must be sought for personal data before data can be shared. MRC has a data sharing policy whereby a data sharing agreement must be created and applicants who consider that the data arising from their proposals will not be suitable for sharing must provide clear reasons for not making it available. 

Communication address: Medical Research Council, 14th Floor, One Kemble Street, London WC2B 4AN e-mail:  corporate(at)headoffice.mrc.ac.uk

Natural Environment Research Council: NERC
OVERVIEW: NERC funds environmental research, survey and observation work across a range  of disciplines including  the geo- and earth sciences, hydrology, soil science, atmospheric research and oceanography; biological and microbiological research on animal and plant biodiversity, population dynamics and ecology; climate change research; environmental chemistry and physics;.
OA mandate: All research outcomes (publishers version and/or author’s final version of peer-reviewed publications) undertaken through NERC must be deposited in OA archives at the earliest possible opportunity. NERC should be acknowledged as funder, with grant number and compliance with the OA deposit requirement will affect future funding applications. Research undertaken by NERC staff must be deposited in NERC Open Research Archive (NORA).
Communication address: Natural Environment Research Council, Polaris House, North Star Avenue, Swindon, SN2 1EU e-mail: nora(at)nerc.ac.uk.

Science and Technology Facilities Council: STFC
OVERVIEW: STFC is involved in the most significant challenges facing society such as meeting our future energy needs, monitoring and understanding climate change, and global security. STFC’s work includes liaison with academic and industrial communities to share its expertise in materials science, space and ground-based astronomy technologies, laser science, microelectronics, wafer scale manufacturing, particle and nuclear physics, alternative energy production, radio communications and radar. NERC participates in European research initiatives and wider international research.
OA mandate: STFC requires the outcome of funded research in the form of conference papers and peer-reviewed publications to be deposited in OA archives after publication as soon as possible. Metadata should be deposited at the date of publication and include a link to the publisher’s website. STFC should be acknowledged as funder, with grant number.
Communication address: STFC HQ, Polaris House, North Star Avenue, Swindon SN2 1SZ; e-mail: epublications(at)stfc.ac.uk.

Details of Key Organizations:

Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC)

JISC distributes funding for IT development in higher education and is key to open access strategy development in UK through monitoring  compliance with SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) and the Budapest Open Access Initiative.
Communication address: Brettenham House, 5 Lancaster Place, London WC2E 7EN; e-mail: info(at)jisc.ac.uk
ERIS Enhancing Repository Infrastructure in Scotland

Is a JISC-funded project to develop user-led solutions aimed to encourage the deposit of research and integrate repositories with institutional and research processes. The project is led by the University of Edinburgh.

Communication address: ERIS, University of Edinburgh Library, EH8 9LJ. Contact: Sheila Cannell; email: projects(at)jisc.ac.uk

WRN Welsh Repository Network

Is a JISC-funded project that has completed the first stage of its mandate to establish 12 repositories across Wales and is now being led by Aberystwyth University to develop a central, collaborative model to enhance this development.
Communication address: WRN,Hugh Owen Library, Aberystwyth University, Penglais Campus, Aberystwyth SY23 3DZ; email: wrnstaff(at)aber.ac.uk


eprints software was the original institutional repository software and is now used in a large number of global OA repositories. It was originally developed at the University of Southampton and is continuously developing its functions. e-Prints is a key player in setting standards and leading in technological development and collaborates with organisations to advise on repository hosting, customisation, importing existing (legacy) data and training.
Communication address: School of Electronics & Computer Science, University of Southampton, Southampton, SO17 1BJ. e-mail: info(at)services.eprints.org

Open Access Implementation Group (OAIG)

Membership organisation of representative bodies aimed at developing a practical OA strategy in the UK, in the context of the wider ‘open’ environment and to support the UK’s evolution as a knowledge economy.
Communication address: JISC Executive, University of Bristol, 2nd Floor, Beacon House, Queens Road, Bristol BS8 1QU;e-mail: d.otlet(at)jisc.ac.uk


  • SHERPA services include:
  • SHERPA Search - simple full-text search of UK repositories listed in OpenDOAR
  • RoMEO - Publisher's copyright & archiving policies
  • JULIET - Research funders archiving mandates and guidelines
  • OpenDOAR - Worldwide Directory of Open Access Repositories;

RSP Repository Support Project

Provides guidance and advice on development of institutional repositories in HEIs.
Communication address: Centre for Research Communications,  Greenfield Medical Library, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, NG7 2UH; e-mail: support(at)rsp.ac.uk


An independent body for repository managers, administrators and staff in the UK  to promote the profession of repository management through networking and  discussion and exchange of experience.
Communication address: UKCORR-discussion(at)jiscmail.ac.uk

Research Councils UK 

Department of Business Innovation and Skills 

Higher Education Funding Council for England 

Universities UK 

Russel Group of Universities

Thematic Open Access projects/Initiatives

This is a select list to highlight a variety of major subject/thematic repositories. Most UK universities have repositories of academic material, some of which have subject themes and often include theses and digital resources. They are accessible through the individual university websites.


  • Archaeology Data Service contains a mixture of metadata and project archives on archaeological sites and finds. Mandated depository for archaeological work funded by the AHRC in the UK; managed by the University of York. Contact: Prof.Julian Richards, Director. e-mail: Julian.Richards(at)york.ac.uk Archaeology Data Service, Department of Archaeology, The King's Manor, University of York, York YO1 7EP. 


  • Access to Research Resources for Teachers (ARRT) Repository of the General Teaching Council of Northern Ireland. All material is available under a Creative Commons copyright licence.
    Communication address:  GTCNI 3rd Floor Albany House, 73 - 75 Great Victoria Street, Belfast BT2 7AF; e-mail: info(at)gtcni.org.uk
  • Association for Learning Technology (ALT) Repository of professional and scholarly material; on the use of learning technology. All material is available under a Creative Commons copyright licence.
    Communication address:  ALT, Gipsy Lane, Headington, Oxford, OX3 0BP, UK.
  • Digital Education Resource Archive (DERA) Provides access to full text government and official publications in the subject area of education.
    Communication address:   Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL; e-mail: b.scaife(at)ioe.ac.uk
  • Institute of Education EPrints (IoE Eprints) provides access to the research output of the institution; not all full-text.
    Communication address: Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL; e-mail: libraryeprints(at)ioe.ac.uk
  • Jorum Open Jorum is a JISC-funded free online repository collecting and sharing of learning and teaching materials, allowing their reuse and repurposing and managed by the University of Manchester. Discussion forum and blog.
    Communication address: Mimas, The University of Manchester, Roscoe Building, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL; e-mail: support(at)jorum.ac.uk


  • British History Online  A digital repository providing access to core printed primary and secondary sources, such as official records, maps, and journals, for the medieval and modern history of the British Isles. Created by the Institute of Historical Research and the History of Parliament Trust. 
    Communication address: Institute of Historical Research, University of London, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU. e-mail: bruce.tate(at)sas.ac.uk


  • UK PubMed Central (UKPMC) This is a subject based repository that mirrors the data held on the PubMed Central site. It holds over 2 million+ full text, peer reviewed published journal articles covering all fields of biomedical and health research (the UK PubMed Central repository); 25 million+ PubMed and PubMed Central abstracts; National Health Service (NHS) clinical guidelines; UK biomedical and health PhD theses. It acts as an Open Access repository for peer-reviewed research from researchers who have been funded by the UKPMC Funders Group - submitted via the UK Manuscript Submission System.
    Communication address: UK PubMed Central, The British Library. 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB; e-mail: ukpmc(at)bl.uk

Social Sciences

  • Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Social Sciences Repository An organisational repository containing bibliographic information, theses, datasets, multimedia of all research output supported by ESRC funding.

    Communication address: Economic and Social Research Council, Polaris House, North Star Avenue, Swindon, SN2 1UJ; e-mail: adrian.alsop(at)esrc.ac.uk
  • Open Research Online (ORO) Open University repository providing access to the publication output of this institution. Communication address: The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA; e-mail:lib-oro-team(at)open.ac.uk
  • OpenDEPOT This is a facility for university, college and institution based researchers to deposit peer-reviewed papers, articles, book chapters where there is no institutional repository. Academics with institutional repositories will be directed to submit materials to their own sites. Managed by Edinburgh University staff.
    Communication address: EDINA, Causewayside House, 160 Causewayside, Edinburgh, Scotland EH9 1PR; e-mail: p.burnhill(at)ed.ac.uk

Science and Technology

  • Science and Technology Facilities Council ePublication Archive (STFC ePubs) This is an institutional repository collecting and allowing access to the academic output of STFC covering Physics and Astronomy; Technology General; Computers and IT in the form of articles, conference proceedings, theses, unpublished papers and books. Not all of the items listed are available directly from this site but linked to the full-text reference in other repositories or subscription journals.

    Communication address: STFC Chilton, Didcot, OX11 0QX; e-mail: epublications(at)rl.ac.uk

Visual Arts

  • VADS (Visual Arts Data Service) This site provides access to images of various collections of visual arts offering access to over 100,000 images that are freely available and copyright cleared for use in learning, teaching and research in the UK. It is managed by the University for the Creative Arts, Farnham. 
    Communication address: University for the Creative Arts, Farnham Campus, Falkner Road, Farnham, GU9 7DS email: jccook(at)ucreative.ac.uk

Past and Future OA Related Activities:

20 March 2015: "Open Access Advocacy Workshop: Joining the Dots" organized and facilitated by Rob Johnson. The aim of the workshop was to share experiences of communicating the open access message to researchers, and to identify best practice and areas of improvement. 

22 October 2014: Open Access for REF2020 and Research Data Management: What do researchers need to know?Royal Holloway, UK

29 October, 2014: The Shift to Open Access Publishing, UCL Centre for Digital Humanities, London, UK.

15 October, 2014: Open Access is Just the Beginning: Disrupting Publishing, SPARC Europe Open Access Roadshow, University of Leeds, UK.


10 July 2014: Jisc and CNI 2014: Opening Up Scholarly Communication Bristol, UK

18 June 2014: Open Access Monographs – Oxford forum with publishers and funders Oxford, UK

19 May 2014: Open Access and Society: Impact and Engagement; London, UK.

13 May 2014: The Mechanics and Reality of Open Access; London, UK.

Selected Open Access week events (2014):

23 October 2014:  Panel discussion "Generation Open: Researchers' Roles in the Age of Openness", University of Kentucky.

21 October 2014: Open Access Button Launch: the new, updated version of the Open Access Button and the new companion mobile app were launched in London.

13 November, 2013: Libraries and the Future of Publishing, Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals AGM, London, UK.

Open Science and Open Data Related Events

March 2016: Bellwether Seminar: The power of the crowd: Combining open science, citizen science and the internet to generate reproducible knowledge

During the seminar, participants discussed the opportunities and challenges provided by mass internet-based data collection and how, in combination with open science practices, this approach can help usher in a new era of robust scientific research.

June 2015: LIBER Annual Conference: Towards Open Science

This conference focused on the following broad principles pertaining to the concept of Open Science:

  • Transparency in experimental methodology, observation, and collection of data;
  • Public availability and reusability of scientific data;
  • Public accessibility and transparency of scientific communication; and
  •  Use of web-based tools to facilitate scientific collaboration.

It explored the movement towards Open Science practice and policies, and provided examples of how libraries are acting as enablers and identifying and addressing key challenges related to implementing Open Science principles.

February 2015: Digital Science Spotlight Event- Open Data for Researchers

This included a series of events that focused on the challenges researchers face with regard to the management of scientific research data, and how they can be addressed.

The event reviewed the need for Open Data in research and scholarly communication, highlighting examples of why and where Open Data is valuable.

Speakers presented some recent initiatives in putting Open Data into practice and debated the priorities for what researchers and publishers should be doing to enable access to and re-use of scientific data.

List of Publications

The following is a select list of recent materials on Open Access in UK. Note that Wagner (2010) cited below is a bibliography containing further references.

2015: CRC Blog (Centre for Research Communications) has been launched to provide updates on all SHERPA Services (RoMEO, JULIET, OpenDOAR and FACT) and projects (SHERPA/REF), OARR and JoRD). 

JISC Router: About the project which aims to enable feeds from publisher systems to institutional repositories. 

2015: HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) published the findings of its Monographs and Open Access Project" which was led by Professor Geoffrey Crossick.

March 2015: "Open Access: Is a National License the Answer?" proposal by David Price and Sarah Chaytor of University College London for a mechanism to provide full access to everyone within the UK to all published research.

2014: "Open Access Journals in Humanities and Social Sciences" A report presented by the British Academy which investigates some of the issues involved in Open Access publishing.

2014: "Pathways to Open Access Baseline Report" was presented from UCL, Nottingham and Newcastle's Pathfinder project.

2014: "Building a Successful Service: Developing Open Access Funding and Advocacy at University College London", published in The Serials Librarian, volume 67, Issue 3. 

2014: Case Study: UK Open Access Policy Landscape , PASTEUR$OA Project, JISC, Mafalda Picarra

2014: UCL launched their new open access webpages.

September 2013: "UK open access route too costly, report says" by Richard Van Noorden, published in Nature.

2012: "Accessibility, sustainability, excellence: how to expand access to research publications" report published by the Working Group on Expanding Access.

July 2013: Proposals were published for a requirement that research outputs submitted to the post-2014 REF be available in an OA forum. 

Bjork, B-C et.al (2010) Open Access to the Scientific Journal Literature: Situation 2009 PLoS ONE June 2010 Volume 5, Issue 6 | e11273. Open Access. Available freely online.

Business Innovation and Skills Parliamentary Committee Enquiry into Open Access report 

Government Response to the Finch Report 

Harnad, S. (2010) The Immediate Practical Implication of the Houghton Report: Provide Green Open Access Now. Prometheus, 28 (1). pp. 55-59. Available under License Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives.

HEFCE Consultation on Open Access for the REF 

Herb, U. (2010) Sociological implications of scientific publishing: Open access, science, society, democracy, and the digital divide. First Monday. Online journal article

House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology final report on "Scientific Publications: Free for all?"

House of Lords Science Committee Enquiry into Open Access report 

Jacobs, N (2006) Open Access: key strategic, technical and economic aspects Oxford: Chandos Publishing. ISBN-10: 1843342030; ISBN-13: 978-1843342038

Kaufman-Wills Group (2005) The facts about Open Access: A study of the financial and non-financial effect of alternative business models for scholarly journals, ALPSP Special Report. The full report is available for download (PDF) free of charge.

Poynder, R (2011) Open Access by numbers Open and shut blogspot
Creative Commons

Report of the Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings – the Finch Group 

Solomon. D.J. (2008) Developing Open Access Electronic Journals: A Practical Guide Oxford: Chandos Publishing ISBN-10: 1843343398; ISBN-13: 978-1843343394

Suber, P (2008) Open Access to electronic theses and dissertations DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology, Vol 28, No 1

Suber, P (2009) Open Access Policy Options SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #130

Swan, A. (2008) Study on the availability of UK academic "grey literature" to UK SMEs. Open Access.

Swan, A (2010) The Open Access citation advantage: Studies and results to date. Creative Commons license.

Swan, A and Chan, L (2011) OASIS: Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook Online resource. Creative Commons license.

Wagner, A.B (2010) Open Access Citation Advantage: an annotated bibliography Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship Winter, 2010

Whitfield, J (2011) Open access comes of age Nature 474, 428 (2011) 21 June 2011

Wellcome Trust Open Access Policy



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