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Research Publications and Copyright Policy

Purpose of the Policy 

Traditionally, when publishing scholarly articles, staff at Queen’s University Belfast have assigned copyright to the publisher via a copyright transfer agreement. As a result, many scholarly articles are under the partial or complete ownership of publishers.  

The purpose of this policy is to: 

  • Enable staff to retain ownership rights to their scholarly articles 
  • Help staff make scholarly articles open access so that they are disseminated as widely as possible 
  • Make it simpler for staff to meet research funder and REF (1) open access policies 
  • Ensure that staff have the freedom to submit to the publication venue of their choice, and still meet research funder and REF open access policies 


This policy is subject to the University’s IP Policy, and applies to all:  

  • Academic and research staff currently employed by Queen’s University Belfast where the University owns the IP as per the IP Policy 
  • Scholarly articles, defined as authored or co-authored peer-reviewed journal articles and conference papers with an International Standards Serial Number (ISSN), including any third-party content where rights in that content have been secured 

Other members of the University community, such as research postgraduate students and staff in professional support directorates, may wish to opt in to this policy. Please email the Open Research team in Library Services for information on how to do this: 

 This policy does not apply to: 

  • Journal articles and conference papers with an ISSN submitted, or accepted, for publication prior to the adoption of this policy 
  • Other research outputs that are not journal articles and conference papers with an ISSN. This includes conference papers with an International Standard Book Number (ISBN), monographs, book chapters, e-theses, and datasets. However, the University encourages staff to make all research outputs as openly available as possible 
  • Other IPR in research, which is already covered by the University’s IP Policy 

Policy Detail 

  1. Paragraphs 19-24 of the University’s IP Policy confirm the current practice that the University conditions waive its rights in respect of copyright ownership in any publication or work produced by a member of staff as a scholarly work (as defined within clause 20 of the IP Policy).  
  2. Upon acceptance for publication, each staff member with a responsibility for research agrees to grant Queen’s University Belfast a non‐exclusive, irrevocable, worldwide licence to make manuscripts of their scholarly articles publicly available under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence, or a more permissive licence. 

On Submission for Publication 

  1. Staff members will include the following Rights Retention Statement (RRS) in the funding acknowledgement section in their submitted manuscript, and in any submission cover letter/note:  

    “For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission." 

On Acceptance for Publication 

  1. For each journal article or conference paper with an ISSN, staff members will: 
  • Record the bibliographic details (publication date, title, author(s), etc.) in Pure (current research information system) 
  • Deposit an electronic copy of the author-accepted manuscript in an appropriate electronic format (such as PDF) in Pure 
  1. When providing the electronic copy of the accepted manuscript, staff members will notify the Open Research team in Library Services ( if any rights or permissions have not been secured: for example, if third party or co‐authored content in an article publicly available under a CC BY licence has not been secured so needs to be made available with a ‘rights reserved’ statement. 
  2. Staff must be aware of the terms of copyright transfer agreements they sign with publishers, and the impact on how their work can be made available under the terms of this policy. 

On Publication 

  1. The Open Research team in Library Services will make the accepted manuscript accessible to the public (with article metadata usually available immediately upon deposit) in the Research Portal (institutional repository) on the date of first online publication (or the conference end date for conference proceedings with an ISSN) under a CC BY licence.  

Opting Out of the Policy 

  1. Staff can voluntarily opt out of immediate open access upon publication, and/or the assignment of a CC BY licence for a journal article or conference paper with an ISSN. However, staff should be aware that this may cause their research output to be non-compliant with funder policies. To request an opt-out, staff should email the Open Research team in Library Services with details of the publication:


  1. Prior to submission, all authors must agree to the CC BY licence for each paper published, and the rights retention wording must be included in the submitted manuscript. If co-authors do not agree to this, then staff can opt out of the policy (see section 8 above). 

Acknowledgement of Funding 

  1. Staff must acknowledge sources of funding in their research outputs including grant numbers where applicable, and in accordance with the funder’s terms and conditions agreed when accepting the funding. 

Inclusion of Data Access Statements 

  1. Journal articles and conference papers with an ISSN must include a data access statement, even where there are no data associated with the article or the data are inaccessible. Such a statement informs readers of where the underlying research materials associated with a paper are available, and how these research materials may be accessed. The statement should include links to the datasets, where applicable and appropriate. 
  2. Publicly-funded research data should be made openly available with as few restrictions as possible. Where there are reasons to protect access to the data (for example commercial confidentiality or sensitivities around data derived from potentially identifiable human participants), these should be included in the data access statement. 

Adoption and Use of Author Identifiers (ORCID)  

  1. ORCID provides researchers with a unique identifier that can be kept throughout their career. It distinguishes between researchers with similar names and helps ensure that publications are attributed and recorded correctly, potentially reducing researchers’ workload. ORCID is a global, non-profit organisation supported by its members, including Queen’s University Belfast. Publishers are increasingly adopting ORCIDs in their journal submission systems. Major research funders, such as UKRI and the Wellcome Trust, require or recommend the use of ORCID.  
  2. Queen’s University Belfast encourages researchers, if they have not already done so, to claim, create and populate their ORCID record. This can be done automatically via information already held in Pure. Queen’s University Belfast then asks researchers to use their ORCID in all research outputs. 

Related Policies 

  1. This policy is subject to the University’s IP Policy and should be read in conjunction with:  

Advice and Guidance 

  1. Advice and guidance about this policy is available from the Open Research team in Library Services:

Policy History

Policy Name: Research Publications and Copyright Policy

Approved by: Academic Council

Policy effective date: 1 November 2023

Policy Owner: Library Services

Date of next review: 1 November 2024

Policy version: 1.0


(1) A new REF open access policy is in development. Research England has advised that the REF 2021 open access policy should continue to be followed. Further information about these requirements is available at