We are committed to ensuring our research community makes the outputs from ESRC-funded research publicly available.

The research councils' open access policy came into force in April 2013. ESRC-funded researchers are expected to comply with the policy.

Background to the open access policy

The research councils have had a position statement on open access to research outputs since June 2006. ESRC has had its own policy since October 2006. 

In 2008, the research councils funded an independent study into open access (The National Archives website), which was conducted by SQW Consulting and LISU, Loughborough University. Its purpose was to identify the effects and impacts of open access on publishing models and institutional repositories in light of national and international trends, including the impact of open access on the quality and efficiency of scholarly outputs, specifically journal articles. The final report was published in April 2009.

In response to the report, the research councils agreed that over time they will support increased open access by:

  • building on their mandates on grant holders to deposit research papers in suitable repositories within an agreed time period
  • extending their support for publishing in open access journals, including through the pay-to-publish model.

The research councils began implementing this through a number of cross-research council working groups, also liaising with all interested parties including the academic community, publishers, and organisations such as JISC and the Research Information Network.

Meanwhile in June 2012 the Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings (the 'Finch Group', chaired by Dame Janet Finch) published their report 'Accessibility, sustainability, excellence: how to expand access to research publications' (PDF, ACU website), which sets out a road map to improve open access to scholarly literature.

The research councils used the findings of the Finch Group to further develop the policies that they have had in place since 2005. This culminated in the new policy on open access announced in July 2012.

Research outcomes

ESRC grant holders must upload details of their grant outcomes via Researchfish. Information deposited in Researchfish may be made publicly available through the Gateway to Research.