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expert reaction to UKRI’s new Open Access Policy

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has announced a new Open Access Policy, which hopes to increase opportunity for the findings of publicly funded research to be accessed, shared and reused.


Steven Inchcoombe, Chief Publishing and Solutions Officer, Springer Nature, said:

“We want to see all primary research published full open access (OA) and there are elements to welcome in UKRI’s updated OA policy such as its support for Gold OA and committed OA funding for research articles, for conference proceedings and for books. But in promoting alongside this a version of OA which is reliant on the continuation of subscriptions and paywalls, this new policy risks reversing the UK’s great progress towards a more successful Open Research system rather than accelerating it.  

“It also risks leaving authors behind.  Restricting funding only to articles in journals that are either fully OA or form part of a ‘transitional agreement’ (TA) means that it looks like UK authors will not be able to publish in Nature or any other Transformative Journal where no such agreement is in place.  And even if there are  TAs in place, by making this new policy apply to all UKRI-funded authors, not just lead (corresponding) authors, it risks creating conflict with international collaborative co-authors.  

“With this announcement, UKRI risks undermining the fantastic progress we have collectively made in the UK in ensuring the final version of all primary research is immediately accessible and that authors have the maximum choice of journals in which to publish their research.”


Stephen Lotinga, CEO of the Publishers Association, said:

“Publishers support open access and have ensured that the UK is transitioning faster than anywhere else in the world. In terms of the UKRI policy announced today, we wholeheartedly support full Gold open access and welcome the commitment to provide additional funding to achieve this.

“Significant concerns remain about the alternative route to journal publication which UKRI has endorsed today. This green open access route is unsustainably linked to subscription models and could undermine efforts to continue to publish research to the high standards of quality the UK is known for.

“On monographs, it is crucial that sufficient funding is directed to support the transition as the open access models are in their infancy and much longer lead times are involved.

“We stand ready to work with UKRI and research institutions in the coming months to ensure sustainable open access can be delivered. A particular focus needs to be given to the difficulties many smaller publishers will face in trying to comply with this new policy.”



The UKRI Open Access Policy was published at 09:00 UK time on Friday 6 August 2021.



Declared interests

None received.

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