In August, UKRI published its new Open Access policy. This is a long expected update to the policy and is a strong move to requiring open access for all research publications that result from UKRI funding.

Links directly to the UKRI information are included below:

I have included a very brief summary of the points below.

Peer Reviewed research articles (journal articles):

  • Immediate open access at time of publication
    • No embargo periods and no delays
  • Applies to research published from 1 April 2022
  • CC BY licence preferred but CC BY ND allowed as an exception
    • We await details on how the exceptions will be granted and monitored.
  • Both gold and green routes are acceptable but both must meet the above criteria
    • Many publishers will not support green with 0 embargo AND CC BY licence because it is viewed as the most risky to journals and publishers.
    • There is also a clear preference for the Gold route.
  • Funding by UKRI for ‘gold’ open access will be provided through a block grant mechanism
    • Many researchers will find that the gold open access route is covered by their library’s journal purchase deals; this is true for BSA journal authors.


  • Open access 12 months after first publication
  • Starts from books accepted for publication from 1 January 2024
  • CC BY licence preferred, but NC and ND licences are permitted
    • We await detail on how the exceptions will be granted and managed.
  • Funding to be provided through a centralised fund that research organisations can apply to.
    • We await further detail on the funding for monograph publishing.
  • Green and Gold routes are acceptable but must meet the above criteria

For many of our members, ESRC grant funding or the block grant funding that UKRI provides to universities will be relevant for this policy.  This UKRI does not apply to research publications that result from what we often refer to as QR funding or for funds from other funding bodies, which will have their own policies.

This policy also does not cover the REF-After-REF-2021 requirements – those are yet to come. However, we should be prepared to see very close alignment between this policy and any future research evaluation exercise.

BSA Journals are compliant via the Gold Method

Sociology, Work, Employment and Society, Cultural Sociology and Sociological Research Online are (most likely) compliant with the Gold open access route.

Despite being ‘hybrid journals’ – which is essential for our sustainability – BSA journals qualify under a Jisc-approved agreement. SAGE and Jisc, the body representing many UK libraries, have a subscription and publication deal that allows authors based at participating institutions to publish Gold Open Access (with their choice of licence). While there may be some UKRI funded authors who are not located at participating institutions, the majority of authors should be able to publish in the BSA journals.

The BSA does not influence the universities that participate in the Jisc deal – that is up to each university. However, we have looked at the list of participating institutions and we feel that most of those with sociological interests are part of the deal and therefore have both read and publish access to the BSA journals.

Further Information

  • If you have any concerns about meeting funder requirements, please feel free to contact me or to get in touch with your library.
  • Details about all our journals can be found on our Publications website. We have strong portfolio of 4 journals, all of which are included in the Jisc-SAGE deal.
  • You can find more details about SAGE’s Jisc agreement on their website.

Green but not CC BY

The BSA journals are not able to offer the Green route as stipulated by ESRC.  Authors are welcome to deposit the Authors Accepted Manuscript in an institutional repository as soon as their article is accepted in one of our journals (0 embargo), but we do not offer the CC BY licence.

The CC BY licence is one with which we have concerns. BSA journal income supports the work that we do, keeping our journals and many other Association activities going. Offering all BSA content for free without any reuse restrictions risks undermining the sustainability of the journals through cancellation of subscriptions.

In addition to these very pragmatic issues, many sociology researchers are uncomfortable with the CC BY licence, which grants reuse, both commercial and non-commercial, without any restrictions. The context of the arguments and the sensitivity of many of the topics means that researchers wish to protect their work from being quoted out of context or reused in unintended ways.

More detail about the licences can be found on the Creative Commons licence website. These licences are intended to facilitate the sharing of creative and intellectual outputs in an online world. They simplify the reuse rights: anyone who has had the intense frustration of chasing down reuse permissions will understand how this can be valuable. However, that does not mean that these licences are suitable in all cases. The open access movement is very dedicated to use of these licences but there have been concerns raised by many arts, humanities and social science researchers, the BSA included.

What does the UKRI policy mean for the BSA Sociological Futures Book Series?

The inclusion of monographs in the policy will mean change for a lot of book series, BSA Sociological Futures included. At the moment, we don’t have a Gold open access route, and it hasn’t been requested to date.

With Routledge, we are discussing the best way to support our authors. Volumes which are edited collections may have chapters with different funder requirements – adding to the complexity of the arrangements we will need to have in place. Our key focus will be helping editors and authors publish good quality monographs and edited collections, while still meeting their funder requirements.