Funding Open Access

Gold Open Access is where a paper is made fully open on the publisher's website, often for a fee or 'Article Processing Charge' (APC). There are a number of Open Access funding opportunities available to authors affiliated with the University of Strathclyde.

In most cases Open Access funding eligibility will depend on whether a specific research output acknowledges funded projects from a number of research funding bodies. There is however an increasing number of opportunities for ‘unfunded manuscripts’ to be published Gold Open Access via the so-called offsetting agreements or Read & Publish deals with given publishers. This landscape is quickly evolving as a result of the issuing of the 2019 ‘Plan S’ by a number of European research funders, among them UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Wellcome Trust.

The first step for requesting funding for the payment of an Open Access publishing fee (or APC, Article Processing Charge) is contacting the Open Access team with as much detail as possible regarding the manuscript. The most common time to do this is upon manuscript acceptance, however, depending on the publisher this could be prior to submission.

When Gold OA funding eligibility has been confirmed by the library, advice will be provided for progressing the publication process in order to deal with the copyright transfer (usually by filling in an online form) and the necessary financial transaction.

Please note that no fees will generally be covered by the library unless the Open Access team is first contacted about funding eligibility prior to requesting Gold Open Access from the publisher.

Authors are strongly encouraged to create a Pure record for the publication as soon as possible in the publishing cycle, ideally including in a full-text version of the accepted manuscript. This allows the library to easily check the corresponding authorship, the co-author network, and any funding acknowledgements that may be included in the paper.


There are three different mechanisms to obtain Gold Open Access funding from the library:

1. Block Grant Funding

2. Read & Publish Deals

3. Institutional Open Access Fund (IOAF)


 1. Block Grant Funding

Two annual block grants for Open Access payments have been received by Strathclyde in the past few years from specific research funders. These are the Research Councils UK/UK Research and Innovation (RCUK/UKRI) and the Charities Open Access Fund (COAF) led by the Wellcome Trust.

These block grants are aimed at covering the Open Access publishing fees for accepted manuscripts that carry an acknowledgement of any project funded by these research funding bodies. However, having an UKRI- or COAF-funded manuscript accepted does not automatically imply that the APC will be covered from the block grant. This is due to the volume of manuscripts funded by these two groups of funders, and previous attempts to fund Open Access for them all led to an overspend: the UKRI block grant allocated to Strathclyde for the period Apr 1st, 2018 – Mar 31st, 2019 ran out as of mid-Nov’19.

In order to contain the expenditure and allow the block grants to last for their whole expected term of application, a 'no-hybrid policy' is largely being applied. This means that as a rule only those manuscripts accepted in fully Open Access journals are being granted Open Access funding from the library.

Open Access journals are titles with mandatory APC payments and no subscription charges for reading their papers. Some popular examples at Strathclyde are Scientific Reports, Nature Communications, PLoS ONE, MDPI titles such as Sensors, Energies, Pharmaceutics, Frontiers titles such as Frontiers in Immunology, Copernicus titles such as Wind Energy Science or Ocean Science, and an increasing number of Elsevier and Wiley journals). See here a full list of Open Access titles funded by the library in the past few years.

In order to find out if your manuscript qualifies for Gold Open Access funding from these block grants please drop us a line as soon as possible in the publishing cycle. Please note that authors should not directly order Gold Open Access on any online form before checking with the library. Where the library is expected to cover the Open Access publishing fee, publishers always check with the library for validation of these author requests. Because of the funding eligibility policy described above, a number of these ‘external’ requests are being turned down, and there’s a risk that the invoice will eventually be sent to the author.


 2. Read & Publish Deals

The Open Access landscape is gradually evolving from case-specific Open Access funding workflows for individually funded papers to blanket agreements with publishers that cover both the subscription fees (the "Read" side) and the Open Access publishing costs (or part thereof). Such Read & Publish agreements may also cover unfunded accepted manuscripts. At the time of writing we have two of these deals at Strathclyde: the Springer Compact and the American Chemical Society Read & Publish deal.

These agreements allow any accepted manuscript where Strathclyde holds the corresponding authorship to be published Gold Open Access at no cost to the authors (i.e. with no APC payment), regardless of whether the manuscripts carry an acknowledgement to a specific funded project.


  • Springer Compact

Any accepted manuscript with a Strathclyde corresponding author in a list of close to 1,900 Springer titles may apply for Gold Open Access by just ticking a box on the online copyright transfer form the author will receive after the manuscript is accepted. The list of eligible titles changes every year and some prominent Springer titles are not included in the deal, so it is worth checking with the library for a confirmation of eligibility while a manuscript is under review or even before submission. Ticking the Gold Open Access box on this online form will typically trigger an automated notification to the library for approval.

In order for such a Gold OA request to be approved we will need a record for the publication to be available in Pure with the date of manuscript acceptance and the full-text accepted manuscript in order that we are able to see the co-author network and any possible funding acknowledgements. While this latter aspect is not critical for Open Access funding eligibility purposes, it is still important for our internal reporting.

The list of papers published Gold Open Access via the Springer Compact has significantly increasing since the library started applying the no-hybrid policy described above. Furthermore, the distribution of the published papers across departments under this scheme sees a far less pronounced divide across disciplines than the funding awarded from the block grants described above, which tends to focus on departments running a large number of EPSRC-funded projects.


Graph showing papers published Gold OA under the Springer Compact Dec 2015 - Dec 2019


APC Payments by Dept/School (incl Springer Compact, 2016-2019)


  • ACS Read & Publish Deal

During 2019 we began trialling a new blanket agreement with the American Chemical Society to provide Gold Open Access to any accepted manuscript with a Strathclyde corresponding author. These are usually authors within Pure and Applied Chemistry and Chemical and Process Engineering, and at times Physics and SIPBS. Similar to the mechanics of the Springer Compact, the library receives an automated notification upon manuscript acceptance, following which we contact the Strathclyde author to ensure the paper is available in Pure.

As the number of annual articles able to be published under this agreement is capped, we encourage Strathclyde authors with an ACS manuscript in the pipeline to contact the library in order to confirm the Gold Open Access funding for the paper even if the manuscript has yet to be accepted.


  • Wiley Read & Publish Deal

Strathclyde has now joined a national-level agreement with this publisher. Under this deal, any accepted manuscript with a Strathclyde submitting corresponding author in a hybrid journal published by Wiley will be eligible for Gold Open Access at no cost for the researchers. This is a very relevant agreement given the high number of papers published in Wiley titles by Strathclyde authors on a yearly basis, but it's not unlimited: there is a cap on the total number of eligible articles on a national basis that will need to be kept in mind.

Please check with the library at if you have a manuscript in the pipeline in a Wiley title so we can confirm (i) its potential eligibility for 'free' Gold Open Access under this deal and (ii) the procedure for making the Gold Open Access request.

**Please be aware that from 12th October, JISC and Wiley have taken the decision to limit OA publishing to Wellcome, UKRI, Blood Cancer UK, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Parkinson’s UK and Versus Arthritis funded research only to guarantee that all research funded will be published OA in 2020. All currently allowed accepted manuscripts can be processed via the existing arrangements until this date.


  • Institute of Physics deal

As per the agreement that Strathclyde has signed with the IOP, any accepted manuscript in a hybrid title published by IOP that carries a Strathclyde submitting corresponding author will also qualify for Gold Open Access at no cost for the authors. Please get in contact for more details as your IOP manuscript nears acceptance or right upon manuscript acceptance, as none of these R&P deals may be retrospectively applied.


  • Sage Read & Publish Deal

The R&P deal Strathclyde has signed with Sage is similar to the Wiley one in terms of its relevance given the number of annual publications in Sage titles by Strathclyde authors. We are still to receive full details about the way this agreement will be rolled out, but same as the other ones, it will involve 'free' Gold Open Access for accepted manuscripts in hybrid titles by Sage with a Strathclyde submitting corresponding author.

This agreement is however a bit different from all the other ones in that the distribution of Sage publications across Strathclyde departments and schools shows a strong prevalence of papers in the Humanities and Social Sciences. This means this specific deal should be of particular interest for HaSS researchers at Strathclyde.


  • Other publishers

Multiple publishers are currently negotiating similar blanket agreements with the appropriate university library consortia (Jisc Collections for the UK and/or SHEDL for Scotland). These include among others the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Microbiology Society and Portand Press. We will keep this section up to date as soon as any new agreement is added to the list of the existing ones.


  • Other agreements

In addition to the Read & Publish deals described above, Strathclyde also has agreements with publishers for obtaining discounts on the price of Open Access publishing fees paid from the library. These other agreements are described elsewhere.


 3. Institutional Open Access Fund (IOAF)

As of October 2019, a new institutional Open Access Fund (IOAF) has been added to the available funding for the library to cover Open Access publishing fees. This small fund (£50K) has been contributed by the University to complement the block grants provided by specific research funders. The IOAF will mainly aim to provide an alternative funding route for high-quality papers that would otherwise not be eligible for Open Access funding, i.e. those that don’t come under any of the funding categories described above. Additionally, this IOAF would also aim to specially serve disciplines with a lower number of (eligible) funded projects, i.e. those departments and schools on the right-hand side of the bar graph above.

Three main aspects will be taken into account when assessing the eligibility for funding under the IOAF for a specific accepted manuscript:

  1. The paper should be aligned with the REF submission profile for the department or school. Specific evidence in this regard will be required from the DoR for the unit;
  2. No other source of funding for the Open Access publishing fee should be available;
  3. The manuscript should ideally have been accepted in a fully Open Access journal

Please contact the Open Access mailbox for advice on the possible eligibility of a paper, even if it has not yet been submitted (some publishers will require a Gold OA confirmation upon manuscript submission). For this guidance to be provided quickly, it is recommended that a record for the publication is available in Pure by the time a specific query reaches us.


 Frequently asked questions for funded research outputs:

1. What are the requirements for obtaining Gold Open Access funding from the library?

2. Can I have my accepted manuscript published Gold Open Access even if it doesn't carry any funding acknowledgements?

3. Why has my Gold Open Access request not been accepted despite carrying an eligible funding acknowledgement?

4. What is the alternative to Gold Open Access for REF compliance purposes?

5. Why do some publishers state that the University has an agreement with them to fund Gold Open Access for accepted manuscripts by Strathclyde authors?

6. What are mirror journals?

7. Is the library able to recommend a suitable journal title for manuscript submission?

8. What are alternative metrics?

9. Can I access funding for an APC payment if I am not the corresponding author?

10. What happens if the grant number for my project has not been included in the manuscript acknowledgements?

11. What is the policy with regard to data statements?


1. What are the requirements for obtaining Gold Open Access funding from the library?

There are several ways to obtain Gold Open Access funding from the library. The most straightforward one is when a just accepted manuscript (i) carries an acknowledgement to a research project funded by the research funders that are subsidising Gold OA via block grants allocated to Strathclyde* and (ii) the manuscript has been accepted in a fully Open Access journal with mandatory Open Access publishing fees or APCs (Article Processing Charges).

On top of these requirements, in order for the library to approve the Gold Open Access funding for a specific accepted manuscript, a Pure record must be available for the publication with the date of manuscript acceptance and the full-text accepted manuscript. This is so that we can check that the funding acknowledgement is correctly worded (i.e. with the full grant number) and if there is a data statement in the paper.

See additional FAQs below for 'unfunded manuscripts'.

* These are mainly (i) the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), formerly known as Research Councils UK (RCUK) and specifically the EPSRC, and (ii) the so-called Charity Open Access Fund (COAF), an association of biomedical charities led by the Wellcome Trust.



 2. Can I have my accepted manuscript published Gold Open Access even if it doesn't carry any funding acknowledgements?

Potentially, yes. There are two main ways this can be achieved:

2.1. R&P deals

If the manuscript has been accepted in a journal issued by a publisher with whom Strathclyde has a so-called 'Read & Publish' agreement, this will allow the library to grant Gold OA to an unfunded manuscript at no cost for the authors. The main R&P agreements Strathclyde has at the moment are the Springer Compact with Springer Nature and the ACS R&P deal with the American Chemical Society. This list of eligible Springer titles for 2019 is available here, whereas for the ACS any of their titles is eligible.

In order for an accepted manuscript to be eligible for Gold OA under these R&P deals it will typically need the Strathclyde author to be the submitting corresponding author for the paper.

2.2 The IOAF

A few months ago Strathclyde started operating its own small Institutional Open Access Fund (IOAF) aimed to cover Open Access publishing fees especially in cases where no other possible source of funding is available (which tends to be the case for unfunded manuscripts). Besides this unavailability of other possible Open Access funding sources, the main criteria for granting Open Access funding from the library to specific manuscripts under this IOAF is that the paper needs to be aligned with the REF submission profile for the Department or School. The way the evidence for this relevance is expected to be provided is via a specific message from the appropriate Director of Research confirming their agreement with funding this specific publication.


 3. Why has my Gold Open Access request not been accepted despite carrying an eligible funding acknowledgement?

As per the requirements for Gold OA funding stated in FAQ no 1 above, a manuscript needs to have been accepted in a fully Open Access journal (i.e. with mandatory OA publishing charges) in order to become automatically eligible for funding from the library. If the journal in which your manuscript has been accepted in a 'hybrid journal' where the APC is optional, it may well be the case that your Gold Open Access request is turned down even if the manuscript carries an eligible funded project acknowledgement. This is the so-called 'no hybrid policy' which the majority of research-intensive University libraries are applying across Scotland.

The reason why this policy is so widely applied is that there are far too many EPSRC-funded papers being published at Strathclyde, and the limited amount of Open Access funding provided by research funders like the UKRI/RCUK is unfortunately not enough to cover the payment of Open Access publishing fees for all of them. In previous UKRI/RCUK block grant management exercises we started by funding all eligible papers (i.e. those that carry an acknowledgement to an RCUK-funded project) only to discover that by mid-Nov we had already spent the full RCUK block grant (which is supposed to last from Apr 1st to Mar 31st the following year). This meant that the library had to effectively go into the red in order to cover the eligible mandatory fees in the period from mid-Nov 2018 until the end of March 2019, and as a consequence it was decided that the Open Access funding eligibility would be restricted when the new block grant arrived on Apr 1st, 2019.

Please note that the no hybrid policy applies solely to the RCUK/UKRI block grant. If your accepted manuscript is funded by the Wellcome Trust or any other biomedical charity in the COAF, the Gold Open Access will be granted regardless of the journal title.



 4. What is the alternative to Gold Open Access for REF compliance purposes?

The REF Open Access policy requirements are met by depositing the full-text accepted manuscript with a specifically created Pure record as soon as possible upon acceptance and no longer than three months from that point in time. This is also required for Gold Open Access papers, which means that Gold Open Access should not be seen as the default route to comply with the funder mandates. Gold Open Access is aimed to increase the visibility and subsequently the number of citations for strong papers.



5. Why do some publishers state that the University has an agreement with them to fund Gold Open Access for accepted manuscripts by Strathclyde authors?

Publishers receive a significant amount of income every time an accepted manuscript is selected for Gold Open Access publication, so it is in their interest for as many to be selected for this publication model as possible. When they state that Strathclyde has an agreement with them (see an example in the screenshot below), they mean that they have an agreement to apply a discount to the Article Processing Charge the library will pay for eligible papers. The decision on which papers to fund lies ultimately with the library, and it is not recommended to directly select Gold Open Access for an accepted manuscript without previously checking the possible funding eligibility with the library. Publishers cannot take Gold Open Access funding requests directly from the authors and will need to validate every direct request with the library, who will turn down such requests unless the requirements described in item 1 above are met by the time the request is received.

An example of publisher agreement

Additional confusing messages regularly issued by specific publishers state that the funder favours Gold Open Access for the dissemination of the publications stemming from their funded projects. This is not for a publisher to judge, but for the institution and its research library. Please check with us at before directly selecting Gold Open Access for your accepted manuscript.

Publisher recommending Gold OA



6. What are mirror journals?

Mirror journals are the response that the publisher Elsevier has come up with in order to try and meet the requirements of Plan S -- an initiative calling for full Open Access to all publicly-funded research outputs by 2021 led by a coalition of European research funders (Coalition S) which includes the Wellcome Trust and the UKRI.

Research funders are pressing for quick transitions during which journal titles become fully Open Access. The way Elsevier are approaching this business model transition is by dividing titles like their International Journal of Pharmaceutics in two different titles with the same editorial boards. Before this move the Int J Pharm was a so-called hybrid journal, i.e. a 'closed' journal in which individual papers could be made Gold Open Access by paying an APC. After the division, there are effectively two different titles: the 'original' Int J Pharm, which is now a fully closed journal with no Gold Open Access option available, and the 'new' fully Open Access title called 'Int J Pharm X', where Gold Open Access is mandatory (and subsequently, also the payment of Open Access publishing fees). 'Int Pharm X' is a mirror journal.

Elsevier is creating mirror journals for many of their titles, see the full list here.

The publisher asks corresponding authors to specify upon manuscript submission whether they want to target the original (now fully closed) title -- in which case no Gold Open Access option will be available -- or whether they'd wish instead to have their manuscript published in the 'mirror journal', in which case the Open Access payment will be mandatory. Another reminder about this is sent to the corresponding author upon manuscript acceptance. Unfortunately, such messages from the publisher are often going unnoticed. Failing to make a choice will result in the accepted manuscript being allocated to the original, now fully closed journal.

If we receive a Gold Open Access request for a paper in this situation, we will not be able to process it, as there is no option to select Gold Open Access for a manuscript accepted in the now fully closed original title. The option is simply not there in the online Rights & Access form. We have tried previously to have an accepted manuscript switched from the 'closed' jornal to the 'mirror' journal, but by the time we were contacted it was unfortunately no longer possible, meaning the paper was finally not published Gold Open Access.

The recommendation is then to please contact us for any query about this as soon as possible in the publishing cycle, ideally right after manuscript acceptance in order that we are able to provide advice. Otherwise it may be too late.



  7. Is the library able to recommend a suitable journal title for manuscript submission?

The term 'suitable title' may not be the most appropriate one to describe this kind of advice, but the answer is yes. Authors are typically targeting the highest-JIF titles without often taking into consideration any other factors. However, the (expected) number of citations may not be the sole aspect to be taken into account, especially where the research may be socially impactful.

From the library we can provide an indication on which titles we will be able to cover the Open Access publishing fees for (or, in the case of R&P agreements like the Springer Compact, see item 2.1 above, titles where a paper can be published Gold Open Access at no cost for the authors). The area of alternative metrics (aka next generation metrics, see following FAQ) is an increasingly important one for research funders like the Wellcome Trust, UKRI, or the EU, and listening to the library's recommendation could make sense regardless of what the final decision looks like.



8. What are alternative metrics?

“Wellcome is committed to making sure that when we assess research outputs during funding decisions we will consider the intrinsic merit of the work, not the title of the journal or publisher. All Wellcome-funded organisations must publicly commit to this principle”

(Updated Wellcome Trust Open Access Policy 2021)

As part of the movement towards responsible metrics, research funders are trying to move away from the Journal Impact Factor as the sole criteria for evaluating research quality. A number of alternative, article-level indicators are gradually being introduced aiming to also measure societal impact for research results (see the 2017 report “Next-generation metrics: Responsible metrics and evaluation for open science”).

The most widespread of these indicators is the Altmetric score, which many publishers (and also platforms such as Strathprints) are already embedding in their article webpages. An Altmetric score provides an estimation of the general impact of a research publication on social media. This includes the impact on platforms like twitter or facebook, plus – more importantly – the mentions of papers in news outlets, policy papers, or patents among others.

A look at the highest Altmetric scores for Strathclyde papers offers a hint on research topics with a very large societal impact, such as gravitational waves, human papillomavirus vaccine, or pollution by microplastics.


High impact Strathclyde Altmetric scores



9. Can I access funding for an APC payment if I am not the corresponding author?

In most cases the Open Access funding eligibility will require a Strathclyde corresponding authorship. However, there may be exceptions depending on the route that is followed to fund a paper (i.e. via the research funders’ block grants, the Read & Publish agreements, or the Institutional Open Access Fund). Because several factors will be relevant for a potential funding eligibility, the best option is to contact the Open Access support service at to check the situation for a specific manuscript.

In order for us to provide advice on a specific paper, it is prefered that a Pure record is available with the full-text accepted manuscript uploaded by the time the funding eligibility query reaches us. This is because key factors like the co-author network or where a specific funded project is led from will be easier to ascertain in view of such a full-text file.



10. What happens if the grant number for my project has not been included in the manuscript acknowledgements?

As per the research funders' requirements we cannot process an APC payment if the full grant number for the funded project is not referenced in the manuscript acknowledgements. Publishers will however normally allow the author(s) to update this manuscript section at the proof stage in order that the funders’ requirements are met prior to online publication of the paper.



11. What is the policy with regard to data statements?

Research funders increasingly require all research papers, if applicable, to include a statement as to how underlying research materials, such as data, samples, software or, models, can be accessed. However, the policy guideline is “as open as possible, as closed as necessary”, i.e. the policy does not mandate open research data. Where there may be compelling reasons to protect access to the data, such as commercial confidentiality or legitimate sensitivities around data derived from potentially identifiable human participants, these should be included in the statement.

Strathclyde has a policy of data deposit in Pure that allows Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) to be minted for them in order that they may be used in manuscript data statements. The data deposit procedure is often carried out in parallel to the Gold Open Access funding process, and both areas can be part of a single conversation with the research support team within the library upon manuscript acceptance.