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Open Access: Research Publications and Copyright Policy

This guide is intended to provide advice on open access to researchers


Queen's introduces a new Research Publications and Copyright Policy on 1 November 2023. 

The policy enables academic and research staff at Queen’s to retain their rights to journal articles and conference papers and ensures that these publications are immediately open access.

How Rights Retention Works

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.  Rights Retention is based on the simple principle that authors and institutions should retain some rights to their publications.

At Queen’s, 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.




  • Enables staff to retain ownership rights to their scholarly articles.
  • Helps staff make scholarly articles open access so that they are disseminated as widely as possible.
  • Makes it simpler for staff to meet research funder and REF open access policies.
  • Ensures that staff have the freedom to submit to the publication venue of their choice, and still meet research funder and REF open access policies.



Queen's Research Publications and Copyright Policy is subject to the University’s IP Policy and supersedes the University’s Open Access Policy.

Advice and Guidance about this policy is available from the Open Research team:




No, 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.
  • Articles that are being published in fully open access journals or via a Queen's open access agreement or read and publish deal.
  • 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.

Yes, prior to submission, you should inform your co-authors of Queen's Research Publications and Copyright Policy. 

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:  

No, the policy only applies to Academic and research staff currently employed by Queen’s University Belfast where the University owns the IP as per the IP Policy.

Other members of the University community, such as research postgraduate students and staff in professional support directorates, can opt-in to this policy. Please contact the Open Research team in Library Services if you wish to opt-in to the policy: