SURE - Sunderland Repository

SURE, Open Access, and the REF

By making your research open access, you increase both its potential audience, and its impact.

To be eligible for the next REF, the final, author-created manuscript of all journal articles and published conference papers must be uploaded to SURE within 3 months of acceptance for publication.

This policy applies to all journal articles and conference papers published after April 1st 2018.

This page will help you make your research outputs open access, and make sure you’re eligible for inclusion in the REF.


How can SURE help my eligibility for REF and promote my research?

Depositing your research outputs in SURE means you meet the open access requirements of REF 2021.

 REF 2021 Policy:

The four UK HE funding bodies have introduced a policy requirement on open access in REF 2021. It applies to journal articles and conference contributions (with an International Standard Serial Number) which are accepted for publication from 1 April 2016 and published on or before 31 December 2020.

The REF 2021 outputs should be deposited, discoverable, and free to read, download and search within, by anyone with an internet connection.  The funding bodies recommend that institutions fully consider the extent to which authors currently retain or transfer the copyright of works published by their researchers, as part of creating a healthy research environment.

The funding bodies recognise that information on deposit permissions, licences and embargoes can sometimes be unclear, complex, or hard to find. Until significant progress has been made to address this issue (including developing machine-readable licences and permissions), it is reasonable for the sector to rely on shared services, including those offered by SHERPA (Securing a Hybrid Environment for Research Preservation and Access). Authors and institutions should feel comfortable acting on the information provided by SHERPA in meeting REF 2021 open access requirements, and should not undertake additional work to verify this information.

Essentially, to meet the requirements you must deposit the accepted version of the article to SURE, the institutional repository at the University of Sunderland as soon as they are accepted for publication at the latest within 3 months of the date of acceptance.

The full open access policy and details of requirements for the next REF are available here.

You’ll need the following information in order to upload your research to SURE:

  1. Date of acceptance (the date the output was accepted for publication)
  2. A copy of the final, author-created manuscript (a PDF of the final version of the paper; this will be the Microsoft Word (or equivalent) document you submitted to the publisher; it must not contain any material added by the publisher, but in terms of content, will be identical to the published version).  Here’s a brief explanation of what this means:
  3. Full citation details (journal article or book chapter title, author(s), journal title or book title, volume and part number, ISBN, date and venue of a conference, etc)

To upload your research outputs to SURE:

Go to

Login with your University Username and Password

Select ‘Manage Deposits’ and then ‘New Item’

Complete each of the 5 stages : Type, Upload, Details, Subject, Deposit

After you complete the final ‘Deposit’ stage, your research output will be reviewed by the repository coordinator who will check the details are correct, and that any required embargo period is set.  The item will then appear on the live site.

Remember, you’ll need to provide as a minimum the date of acceptance; the final, author-created manuscript; and full citation details.

A member of the Repository Team will check these details before making the record live.

Here’s a quick recap:



SURE is an open access repository of research done by staff at University of Sunderland.  Where possible, the contents are freely available to anyone with access to the web.

Anyone can access SURE from  In order to upload your research, you’ll need to login with your university user ID and password.

Anything you consider to be a research output: journal articles, conference papers, book chapters, monographs, art work, PhD theses, news articles, audio/ visual files, photographs, and more.  Anything you add to SURE will also show on your staff research profile.

Login with your university user ID and password, go to the ‘Manage Deposits’ area, and select ‘New Item’.  Simply complete the form, including as much information about your research output as possible, and upload the final, author-created manuscript of any journal article and published conference paper along with any relevant supporting documents, images, etc.

The vast majority of publishers allow the deposit of the final, author-created manuscript.  You can find publishers permissions at the SHERPA/ RoMEO database.

Publishers often require an embargo period to be applied before deposit is allowed.  This can be anything from a few months to several years (!).

The following embargo periods fit within the eligibility criteria of REF 2021:

  • REF panel A &B: up to 12 months
  • REF panel C&D: up to 24 months

Be aware that papers published in journals with embargo periods in excess of 24 months will not be eligible for REF 2021.

Check embargo periods with publishers before you agree to publish your research. 

Open Access policies should not impact on where you choose to publish.  The vast majority of publishers allow you to deposit the final, author-created manuscript in SURE (often with an embargo).

SHERPA REF BETA  is a useful tool that allows you to check whether a journal will allow you to comply with open access requirements for the REF.  Just type in the title or ISBN of the journal, and you’ll be given a short report on where that title stands in relation to the policy and how to comply with each of the 3 requirements.

Yes!  Although all journal articles and conference papers are required to be on SURE to be eligible for the REF, you can (and should!) upload all research outputs so you maximise the impact of your research profile.

Yes.  But you’ll need to inform the repository coordinator when it is published.

This is very important for items you’d like to submit to the REF.  Remember, the final, author-created manuscript of all journal articles and published conference papers are required to be uploaded to SURE within 3 months of publication (within 3 months of acceptance from April 1st 2018).

You’ll need to provide as much bibliographic information as possible, so full citation details in the case of a journal article or monograph, for example.  For items you’d like to be considered for the next Research Excellence Framework exercise (REF), you’ll need the date of acceptance, and a copy of the final, author-created manuscript.

ORCID is a unique 16 digit ID number used to identify researchers.  It’s like an ISBN for authors.  Your ORCID ID can be added to entries on SURE, and to submissions for publication, or grant applications.

You can sign up here (it only takes 30 seconds).

More information about SURE, and open access can be found on the library web site.  We also have a blog where regular updates and links to news items relating to open access and the REF are posted.

If you have any question please get in touch


Open Access FAQs

Open Access research means research that is available online, and free of charge, to anyone.

Open Access is a response to calls from the research community, the UK government, and many research funding bodies to make access to research, especially that funded by taxpayers, easier.

You increase your potential audience and citations dramatically.

Many funders now require that research outputs are made OA.

Making journal articles and published conference papers OA is a requirement of the next REF.


Open access makes best use of new communication technologies.  Traditional methods of research dissemination are slow, very expensive, and often create barriers to access rather than improving it.

Open access is about making research, often funded by the public, more visible and accessible.