Ensuring research outputs are REF compliant


REF Research Excellence Framework | Open Access | Pure

Full information on REF, policies, requirements and guides for staff are now all available on SharePoint, use the link button below (network logon required):

Summary of how to ensure an output is eligible for the REF

In simplest terms, for a journal article or conference proceeding to be eligible for the next REF it needs to satisfy 3 crucial points:

  • Upload your AAM: the author accepted manuscript (AAM), sometimes called the author final copy or post-print version (that is post-review and any corrections, but prior to publisher formatting) needs to be available on the UHI Research Repository (deposited through Pure). If you have paid for 'Gold' access then some publishers allow the publisher version to be added to our repository, but not all, check your publishing agreement.  The safest version that will always be acceptable is the AAM.
  • Link to the Publisher version: you need to provide a clear link to the publisher version (usually by adding the DOI reference to the PURE record, but can also be a weblink).
  • Create a record in Pure within 3 months of acceptance: the output must be publicly available on Pure within 3 months of the publisher accepting of the article (again following review and corrections).

There will occasionally be deviations from this basic premise. For example, sometimes there might be an embargo imposed on deposit of your AAM or the article itself by the publisher and this must always be adhered to. UKRI (the government body responsible for REF) understand this and allow for some outputs to have an embargo, but once the embargo ends the output must then be available as above.

Pre-prints and proofs are not acceptable versions for REF purposes and most publishers will not allow you to post the final published version.

The policy will apply to monographs from January 2024 - see UKRI OA policy page for the current position. The OA policy does not apply to book chapters, working papers, creative or practice-based research outputs, or data/software.

Actions to take

On acceptance, 6 quick steps will create a Pure record for your research output:

  1. Log into PURE
  2. Click on the green ‘Add new’ button and select the correct output type
  3. Add as much information as possible; the fields marked with an asterisk are mandatory
  4. Make sure you include the DOI
  5. Upload your Author Accepted Manuscript (version post review and all corrections) as a pdf at the button ‘Add document/file, DOI or weblink…’
  6. Ensure the status at the bottom of the window is ‘For Validation’ and ‘SAVE’ the record

As long as you make sure you have a copy of the AAM and the article digital identifier (DOI) before you start, the above steps should take no longer than 5 mins.  The records will then be checked for any missing information and when complete will then appear on your profile on the UHI Research Database - this makes it publicly available across the web and the file will then be curated in perpetuity as part of the university repository.

UHI guides to:

Adding outputs and REF compliance (pdf)

UHI Libraries APC and open access guidance

UHI Libraries publisher guidance


Need more help deciding what to do with a particular output?

While it is assumed you communicate with co-authors, line manager, local library contact and/or heads of research locally in your publishing decisions, if you need to speak to someone to talk over your next steps (and you have referred to the two libguides noted above on Open access and publishing) please contact the UHI research publishing team at: