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Library Guides

Researcher Support Library Services: Act On Acceptance

From 1st April 2018, Research England mandates that journal articles and conference papers need to be deposited within 90 days of acceptance.

For more information contact your Information Specialist or email:


Act on Acceptance



How to use Symplectic Elements

Symplectic Elements

Full guidance on how to deposit work, connect profiles (e.g. ORCiD; Scopus; Web of Science), autoclaim publications, and feed publications to your staff profile page:

> Go to full Elements guidance

Video: how to deposit Accepted Manuscript via Elements:

Policy FAQs

The University of Plymouth Open Access Policy states:

"University of Plymouth researchers must create a record for all their University affiliated research outputs and deposit an appropriate version of each publication via their Elements profile. To align with the REF 2021 OA policy, all journal articles and conference papers published between 1st April 2016 and 31st March 2018 must be deposited within 90 days of publication and those accepted for publication from 1st April 2018 must be deposited within 90 days of the date of acceptance."

Authors are responsible for creating and maintaining an ORCID profile, keeping their Elements profile updated and making sure they understand how to comply with the Open Access Policy, requirements of the university, their funder and the REF.

Click here for the full policy document

The REF is a research assessment exercise undertaken by UK Higher Education Funding bodies and carried out by expert panels. It helps to provide evidence of the impact and benefit of research investment, to create information measures by which to compare institutions’ research and to inform selective allocation of research funding. Further information can be found on the REF website.

To be eligible for submission into REF, papers in academic journals and conference papers with an ISSN must have the author's accepted manuscript, as a minimum standard of version, deposited into our institutional repository [PEARL] using Elements within 90 days of manuscript acceptance. For REF 2021, this was true for publications after 1st April 2018. Items accepted between 1st April 2016 and 31st March 2018 should have been deposited into PEARL using Elements within 90 days of publication. Items accepted before this date do not need to be made Open Access, although it is preferred that a copy is deposited into the repository for legacy.

The next REF Open Access policy has yet to be confirmed, but in the meantime, the REF 2021 OA policy should continue to be followed. This means researchers should continue to deposit their manuscripts in PEARL via Elements within 90 days of acceptance.

Items must be made open within 12 months for panels A & B, covering Science, Technology and Health and 24 months for panels C & D, covering Social Sciences, Arts & Humanities. Therefore, it is necessary to check if journals allow items to be deposited and made open within this time frame. You can use the Sherpa Romeo to check if your preferred journal complies. Items made Open Access through Open Journals or Hybrid options should also be deposited. If you cannot comply with these requirement for any reason, please contact the Open Research Team as you may be eligible for an exception.

The Open Access Policy for REF 2021 can be found on the Research England website. Information on the REF-after-REF 2021 can be found here.

It is stipulated within the most recent REF Open Access policy that the author's final peer reviewed version [author's accepted manuscript]should be deposited.  This is also known as a post-print or post-referee but pre-publication version.  Most publishers do not allow the final published version to be uploaded to a repository.  Use the Sherpa Romeo as your guide for what is permissible for each journal you publish in. 

Uploaded files should be in PDF format.

HEFCE's visual representation of 'accepted manuscript' 

taken from: 

If you are publishing in an Open Journal or making an item open through a Hybrid Journal, you should be able to deposit the final version. In this case it is advised to deposit the author's accepted version upon acceptance and then email any final version to the Open Research Team once it is available.

You can use the Sherpa Romeo to see if your journal complies with the requirements for your panel for REF. You can also use the SHERPA/Fact tool SHERPA/FACT tool to discern if a journal complies with your funder requirements.
Generally, for panels A & B, covering Science, Technology and Medicine, the embargo period should be no longer than 12 months. For panels C & D, Social Sciences, Arts & Humanities, this should be no longer than 24 months. However, there might be the odd occasion where a journal is the most suitable place for your research, but does not comply with these requirements or where an item must be kept under embargo for other reasons. In this case, contact your Information Specialist who should be able to advise. There are some options for exceptions that can be applied to items, so if you are not sure if an item can be eligible for REF submissions, please get in touch.

The REF 2021 policy used to allow authors to deposit items within 90 days of publication, but now stipulates that from 1st April 2018, items must be deposited within 90 days of acceptance. In order to be able to comply with this, in consideration that not all of the publication information might be available within this period for some publications, we have modified our systems in order to make depositing within this time period simpler and more straightforward than previously. This means that our systems are the most efficient when authors deposit upon acceptance, rather than waiting for publication information to be pulled into Elements.

Depositing items upon acceptance also allows authors to deposit their item as soon as they are accepted, without having to wait for additional information and keep checking their Elements profile. This means that authors follow a simple 3 step process, inputting 4 pieces of basic information and depositing the file, leaving the addition of publication date and application of an embargo to the repository team. For more information on Act on Acceptance, please see our lib-guide page that explains the new procedure.

The acceptance date is usually the date upon which you are informed that an item has been accepted for publication, whether this is by email, phone or otherwise. Some publications give authors an 'official' acceptance date, which we recommend using if you know it.

What if I haven't got the manuscript?

Publishers will retain a copy in their systems and in some cases it is possible to contact them or log into the author submission system and retrieve this.

In situations where Plymouth staff are collaborating authors and only the lead or corresponding author retains a copy of the manuscript, we have drafted the below email template that staff may wish to adapt and send to the lead author to aid with requesting a copy for deposit.

In addition, when all else fails, be reassured that we can record your article without a manuscript as an 'exception' under part 38(b) of the policy:  “The individual whose output is being submitted to the REF experienced a delay in securing the final peer-reviewed text (for instance, where a paper has multiple authors).”


RE: [Article Title] – The Accepted Manuscript


I am required to deposit the accepted manuscript version of our co-authored paper to ensure eligibility for entering the work into a future UK Research Excellence Framework (REF) exercise.  As the corresponding author with access to the manuscript, I’d be grateful if you could forward me a copy of our Accepted Manuscript i.e. pre-published, post-referee paper (ideally in Word format). Please note that a PDF prepared by the publisher is not suitable for this purpose.

I will deposit the manuscript into the university’s institutional repository, Pearl, in a way that complies with the journal’s policy on copyright and embargoes, self-archiving and author rights.  PEARL is accessible to external search engines ensuring that the paper's visibility will be maximised.

I would appreciate if you could send me a copy of the paper as described above as soon as possible.

If you have any questions about making the article available in this way please let me know or contact my institution's open access publishing advice team: 

Yours sincerely….

While the item may technically be compliant, the University encourages our researcher to deposit, even if the lead author has the intention of depositing in their own repository.Taking responsibility for your own deposit ensures that the file is deposited in the correct time frame to be included in REF. In addition, it ensures that our research is discoverable within our collections, and furthers the creation of an open research environment at the University.

If your article is already made Open Access via an Open or Hybrid Journal, we still require a version of the paper to be deposited into the repository. This is as per the most recent REF Open Access policy, which stipulates that a deposit must be made into an institutional repository, but also allow the university to curate the legacy of its researchers. It is possible for the Open Research Team to place an exception upon Open Access manuscripts, allowing a link to the full text rather than depositing the file, but this should be used sparingly.

If your article has been accepted for Open Access publication, it is recommended to deposit the author's accepted manuscript upon acceptance and then email the Open Research Team who will be happy to replace it with the final version pdf

Please note that some journals describe their content as 'open', where the journal provides free access to resources but the publisher retains the copyright and prevents download and distribution of the files or where download and distribution are only allowed for a period of time. In this case, the article is generally not accepted as 'Open Access' under the REF and most funder requirements. If you are uncertain about whether a publication is 'open' or not, please contact your Information Specialist who will be able to advise.

The university's Open Access policy requires all outputs to be deposited in Pearl where legally appropriate. For the purposes of REF submission returns, versions of articles should be deposited in Pearl for compliance reasons.

This does not prevent authors from depositing elsewhere too e.g. there are many subject repositories backed by funders or disciplines. A subject repository may be Arxiv, NORA, CogPrints, Europe PubMed Central or similar.

PEARL is harvested by a number of other tools including Google Scholar; enhancing the 'findability' of your work. It is also a university system that will store, curate and manage research outputs for the future. Subject repositories also consider these issues.

Tools such as ResearchGate are ideal for sharing and making connections but do not offer the security of long term curation that dedicated repositories can offer.

A note about ResearchGate: RearchGate is not compliant for the purposes of the REF although if you are keen to use it, there is no reason not to deposit there in addition to PEARL in order to further disseminate your work. Note that ResearchGate is subject to the same Green restrictions as PEARL and subject repositories e.g. embargos and versions. Publishers can enforce take downs if incorrect versions are uploaded. The small print on ResearchGate advises authors to 'self archive' rather than 'upload your document' - this subtle difference places the onus on authors to upload versions that adhere to publisher polices for Green Open Access (use Sherpa Romeo as your guide to determine what and where you can make available via the Green route).

The university Open Access Policy states, "This policy applies to all research active staff of the University of Plymouth and covers all published University affiliated research outputs." Therefore, if you are affiliated with the University of Plymouth and have published a manuscript, the university expects deposit of the author's accepted manuscript into PEARL using Elements within 90 days of acceptance, regardless of intention to submit the item for the REF.

For guidance on how to deposit, please see the relevant lib-guide page or contact your Information Specialist.

Your University of Plymouth affiliated publications need to be uploaded via Elements into PEARL, but uploads from previous institutions are not required. Utilising an online ID, such as ORCID ID which all researchers at the university should create, can help researchers to keep track of their publications and associated research activity, such as funding/grant information, across instutitions. For information on online identifiers and assistance with creating an ORCID ID, please see the Researcher Support pages, or contact your contact your Information Specialist.