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Open Access FAQs



Is there a central fund to pay for Article Processing Charges (APCs)?

Cardiff University's Open Access team only has central funds to pay APCs for publications resulting from RCUK, Wellcome Trust or COAF funded research. RCUK encompasses the funding bodies AHRC, BBSRC, EPSRC, ESRC, MRC, NERC & STFC. COAF encompasses Arthritis Research UK, Breast Cancer Campaign, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK and Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research. Current and expired grants, fellowships and PhD studentships are all eligible. For information on how to access the central APC fund, please see the FAQ I am RCUK, Wellcome Trust or COAF funded. How do I access the central APC funds?

If you have a grant from another funding body, then check their Open Access policies – they may provide funds for APCs.


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What is the Charity Open Access Fund?

The Charity Open Access Fund (COAF) is a partnership between the following UK medical research charities: Arthritis Research UK, Breast Cancer Campaign, the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research and the Wellcome Trust. The aim of the COAF is to enable the published outputs of research funded by these charities to be made available open access. To this end, the COAF has provided funds to Cardiff University to pay for Gold and Hybrid OA publishing. If you are funded by one of the COAF charities and you wish to access these funds, please see the next FAQ entry below.

Please note that it is a requirement of the COAF that all articles that they fund be published under the CC-BY licence (see What is a CC-BY licence?). To be eligible to access the central funds, you must therefore ensure that the publisher is willing to apply this licence. You can check this with the publisher or on the Sherpa RoMEO website.

Further information on the COAF is available.


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I am RCUK, Wellcome Trust or COAF funded. How do I access the central APC funds?

To access the central funds please complete the following brief application form, at the point at which your article is accepted and before you sign the licence agreement with the publisher.

Application form – OA funding

Email the form to the Open Access Team via and we will reply with a Reference Number and details as to where the open access invoice should be sent. We respond to emails very quickly to ensure that the publishing process is not delayed.

Please note that it is a requirement of RCUK, the Wellcome Trust Trust and all of the COAF charities that all articles that they fund be published under the CC-BY licence (see What is a CC-BY licence?). To be eligible to access the central funds, you must therefore ensure that the publisher is willing to apply this licence. You can check this with the publisher or on the Sherpa RoMEO website. 


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What is the difference between Green Open Access and Gold Open Access?

Green Open Access is where the author makes their article available for free, usually in an institutional repository, such as ORCA at Cardiff University. Often it is a post-print version (also called Author’s Accepted Manuscript) of the article that is deposited as most publishers do not allow their final version (also called publisher's pdf) to be put into a repository.

Gold Open Access is where a fee is paid to the publisher to ensure that they make the final published version of the article freely available. This may be to an Open Access publisher (such as BioMed Central) or a subscription-based publisher such as Elsevier (often referred to as Hybrid publishing). Fees are usually in the range of £1500 - £3000 per article.


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How can I check that I'm publishing in a reputable OA journal?

There are Open Access publishers who do little more than put your article up on their website for a fee, which is unlikely to do a great deal to enhance your academic reputation. There are various ways of identifying these publishers - here are a few tips:

  1. Look at the website thoroughly – for example, check the names and institutions of the editorial board for legitimacy and publishing record. Are several journals in different subjects edited by the same person? Does the publisher claim to offer peer review at remarkable turnaround speed? Read the existing articles and decide for yourself about quality.
  2. Check Jeffrey Beall's list of "predatory publishers". While some publishers may argue with him about whether they deserve to be on the list, the fact that they are there should at least make you cautious.
  3. Is the publisher a member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association? Publishers in this organisation should adhere to a code of conduct.
  4. Google the title and/or the publisher – do you get blog entries discussing whether the journal is reputable or not?


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What is a CC-BY licence?

A CC-BY licence gives others the freedom to distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the licence you will need to have agreed with your publisher to satisfy the conditions applied by both RCUK and the Wellcome Trust to their grant holders. Further information about licences is available.


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I want to put a post-print into the repository for an Elsevier journal and it says I can do this only if there isn't a mandate on me. Does Cardiff University have a mandate for OA or not?

Cardiff University does not have a mandate for OA publication, so Elsevier should allow the Accepted Author Manuscript or post-print to be deposited into ORCA. More information about Elsevier's policies is available


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I hold an RCUK fellowship. Is this subject to RCUK Open Access publishing conditions or do they only apply to research grant holders?

RCUK's requirements for OA publishing apply to all published journal articles and conference proceedings which acknowledge RCUK funding, so this includes research fellows and holders of PhD studentships. 


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I am publishing a book arising from an AHRC grant. Does this need to be Open Access?

Currently the requirements for OA publishing from RCUK only apply to peer reviewed journal articles (including review articles) and published conference proceedings. There is no obligation to publish other forms of peer reviewed or non-peer reviewed work in an OA form, although the RCUK encourages authors to do this where possible. 


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What is a pre-print?

A pre-print is the paper an author initially submits to the publisher, before peer-review and revisions. 


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What is a post-print?

A post-print is the final author's version that is submitted to a publisher, after peer review and subsequent revisions. It won't have the publisher's brand and appearance, but the text should be identical or near-identical to the final publisher's version. A post-print might also be referred to as an Accepted Author Manuscript. 


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How do I put a full text version of my article into ORCA?

To submit a pdf to ORCA, log in to Cardiff Portal and select the Research tab. You can deposit the full text using "Manage My Publications". Please indicate which version of your article you are uploading, and include the acceptance date and details of any funding that you acknowledge.

Watch a video on how to add new publications to ORCA


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When submitting my journal to the publisher, I'm asked whether I wish to pay for open access, assuming it is accepted. Do I have to pay for open access?

If the publication arises from an RCUK or Wellcome Trust grant, or acknowledges funding from any of the COAF charities, you must make the article Open Access. Although you can use the Green OA route and deposit a version of the article in ORCA, grants are given to Cardiff University for Open Access publications from these funders, so if you want to use the Gold route and pay, this can be done. See How do I access the central APC funds? for details. 

If the publication arises from another grant funder, then check their Open Access policies – they may provide funding for Gold Open Access payments. 

If you do not have funding, then you may be able to deposit a version of the paper in ORCA, Cardiff’s institutional repository. Find your journal on the Sherpa RoMEO website to see what your publisher's policy is on Green OA.

If the publication may be submitted to the post-2014 REF, then it should be made Open Access. Both the Green and the Gold options are compliant – find out more about HEFCE's REF Policy

For further guidance on the open access options and requirements for your publications, please see our Interactive decision chart.


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Where an article has multiple authors, who pays the Open Access fee?

Any institution can pay the OA fee, but it is usually the institution of the corresponding author who will pay, provided that the corresponding author’s institution has received money from the RCUK, Wellcome Trust or COAF member grant. If this is not the case, the institution of the grant-holder would pay the OA fee.


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What are the requirements for Open Access publication for the next REF?

HEFCE mandates that for the post-2014 REF all submitted journal articles and conference papers, accepted for publication 1 April 2016 onwards, should be Open Access. The full policy can be viewed on HEFCE's website. Where a higher education institution (HEI) can demonstrate that it has taken steps towards enabling Open Access for outputs outside the scope of this definition, credit will be given in the research environment component of the post-2014 REF. Therefore, Cardiff University strongly encourages authors to comply as soon as possible.

In order to comply, authors are required to upload the post-prints of their papers to ORCA, our institutional repository, within three months of acceptance, as well as make their outputs Open Access via the Green or the Gold route. Funding for Gold Open Access is currently available for any RCUK, Wellcome Trust or COAF member funded research outputs. See the REF section of our Open Access decision chart for step by step advice. Alternatively, further information is available in the following guides (accessible only to Cardiff University members): 



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My publisher doesn't offer an Open Access route. Is there anything I can do?

You can negotiate with your publisher for the rights to deposit your paper in ORCA. Publishers usually offer a standard contract, but they may be prepared to negotiate terms with individual authors, particularly if this is a funder requirement. Template emails for this purpose can be found here:


Template email - publisher with a non-compliant OA policy 

Otherwise you may wish to reconsider publishing in this journal.