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Guidance for the Birkbeck Open Research policy

This guidance should be read alongside the Birkbeck Open Research Policy.

Please note, the Open Research Policy relates to all Birkbeck staff engaged in research and to research students.



An ORCID ID is free and easy to obtain. Register for an ORCID.

ORCID gives you a unique persistent digital identifier (an ORCID iD) that you own and control, and that distinguishes you from every other researcher globally, including researchers with the same name, to ensure you get the full credit for your work.

Using their ORCID number (which is in the form 0000-000x-1234-5678) it is easy to distinguish two people with a common name from each other and from 8,688 other people with the same name and an ORCID iD.

You can connect your iD with your professional information - affiliations, grants, publications, peer review, and more. You can use your iD to share your information with other systems, ensuring you get recognition for all your contributions, saving you time and hassle, and reducing the risk of errors, and ORCID maintain a web page for you, linked from your ID in the format presented above, where anyone can look at your research profile (which is autopopulated when you use your iD).

ORCID is used by over 1,100 publishers, funders, and other organisations across the globe, and has over time become accepted and established within the academic community. For the next REF exercise the College will only be able to return staff who have an ORCID ID, and many publishers now expect you will have an ORCID in order to publish with them, requesting the information at the point of submission. This then ties the work to you throughout the submission, evaluation and publishing process.

Your ORCID profile can show a range of professional activities, not just your published works - for example, peer reviewing activities and memberships and volunteer activities such as being on an editorial board.

ORCID iD has grown from 50,000 users in 2012 to nearly 10 million today. It is becoming an essential part of the research and scholarly publication.

If you can't remember if you have an ORCID, just type your name into the ORCID website and scroll through who comes up to see if you can find yourself.

Once you have registered for your ORCID please email to register this with the College - if you can't remember if you have told HR its worth emailing them anyway. You may also choose to add this to your staff profile and there is a dedicated place for you to do this.


Open access is commonly understood as making research outputs freely available for anyone to view online, without the copyright and licensing restrictions commonly associated with traditional publishing models. It allows the end user to share and modify a paper (with appropriate attribution), often under a Creative Commons (CC) licence.

There are three common forms of open access: Green, Gold and Diamond.

  • Green open access is open access through repositories, and is the most widely used by far. Either the Author’s Accepted Manuscript (AAM) or the final Version of Record (VoR) is made freely available in a repository. This can be an institutional repository - such as BIROn - and/or a subject repository. Birkbeck’s policy is that all journal papers must be deposited in BIROn even if also deposited in a subject repository. Some funders require deposit in specific subject repositories.
  • Gold open access is open access through publishers. The published journal article is made freely available on the journal website upon publication, with a licence that permits sharing and reuse. This may require an APC (Article Processing Charge) to be paid. UKRI and the Wellcome Trust both provide block grants to pay APCs to suitable publishers for authors in receipt of their funding. Contact the Research Office for more information about this.
  • Diamond open access (sometimes called sponsored or platinum open access) is through journals which allow immediate open access without payment of a subscription fee. Authors pay no article processing charge, and all the costs of publishing are met by one or more sponsoring organisations. The Open Library of Humanities, housed at Birkbeck, is a pioneer of this type of open access.


There are four common versions of academic journal articles:

  • Preprint: The first accepted version, not yet peer-reviewed. Sometimes permitted for use on repositories but rarely required by funders except in cases of global emergency. Routinely shared in some disciplines, via platforms like arXiv.
  • Author’s Accepted Manuscript (AAM) - also known as Postprint: The last version produced by the author after peer review. Usually the earliest version acceptable to funders for open access, and the most commonly permitted for use on repositories by publishers.
  • Proof: The first version to feature publisher branding and formatting. May also contain watermarks and crop marks. At this stage the publisher has usually acquired the copyright. Proofs are never permitted for reuse on repositories.
  • Version of Record (VoR): The final published version, with pagination and complete metadata. Rarely reusable on repositories unless the publisher offers the Gold/Diamond open access route (see above).

There are possible exceptions to these types, depending on discipline, publisher, and type of publication. The BIROn team are happy to help with any queries around specific circumstances.

Recently, some publishers have defined another stage, called the pre-proof. This exists between the AAM and the proof. Publishers assert that the pre-proof has been enhanced by the addition of a cover page, metadata, and formatting. The motivation for defining another version is unclear, as is its suitability for use on repositories. Given the publisher’s additions, and acquisition of copyright, we avoid using these where possible.


Open access to research publications is important because:

  • It removes barriers to access and broadens the audience for your research, increasing its impact.
  • It makes your research equally available to independent researchers, and those in institutions or regions of the world who may not be able to pay the publisher’s fee. Tools such as CORE (COnnecting REpositories) aim to aggregate worldwide open access research outputs and make them available. Outputs deposited into BIROn are automatically harvested by CORE, and if looking for a version of a paper it is always worth checking CORE.
  • It encourages the public to engage with your research, which is often publicly-funded.
  • It supports our mission to open up knowledge and access to knowledge.

In addition:

  • Many funding bodies now require researchers to make the research they fund openly accessible.
  • Birkbeck’s Open Research Policy requires you to deposit a version of your work in BIROn, our publications repository, BIROn
  • Open access is a major component of the REF, and some types of output can only be returned if they are compliant with the REF OA (open access) policy. The policy for the 2021 REF remains in effect until superseded by a newer one. It calls for the Author’s Accepted Manuscript (AAM) or Version of Record (VoR) of all journal articles, and conference papers published in proceedings with an ISSN, to be made open access. It specifies a maximum one year embargo for STEM subjects and a maximum two year embargo for AHSS subjects. (Embargos mean that the item is in the repository but the actual article cannot be opened until the embargo period has ended. This is something which is managed by the repository). Please note, if your funder's rules are currently stricter than the REF rules, you need to follow your funder's rules.


Plan S is a global initiative to improve open access. It launched on 1 January 2021, and most of our funders have adjusted their open access policies to make them Plan S-compliant, as has the College. The principles of Plan S include:

  • All scholarly publications should be immediately open access (i.e. via the green route, made freely available at the point of publication with no embargo).
  • Authors or institutions should retain copyright to their work (see Rights Retention below).
  • Outputs must be published with a Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CC BY). CC-BY-ND is possible by exception, but must be approved by the funder.
  • Plan S does not support the 'hybrid' model of publishing where a publisher charges an APC to make specific outputs open access, while retaining subscription charges to access all other content.

Plan S outlines three possible routes to compliance:

  1. Open access in repositories without embargo (Green open access).
  2. Publishing in fully open access journals or platforms (which can be either Gold or Diamond open access as long as the correct licence is applied).
  3. Through a Transformative Arrangement (see Transformative Agreements below).


This is a broad term for three approaches designed to help journals transition away from subscription models. They are:

  1. Transformative agreements - 'contracts negotiated between institutions (libraries, national and regional consortia) and publishers that transform the business model underlying scholarly journal publishing, moving from one based on read-only subscription to one in which publishers are remunerated a fair price for their open access publishing services.' The university pays a publisher a larger sum than its read-only subscription, and in return the publisher makes all outputs from that university open access without Article Processing Charges. These are called either 'Read and publish' or 'Publish and read' deals, depending on the ratio of costs. JISC explain the key differences.
  2. Transformative Model Agreements - 'Many journals and publishers, especially smaller society presses, are not currently engaged in Transformative Agreements. Transformative Agreement model contracts aim to facilitate new transformative mechanisms for such publishers.'
  3. Transformative Journals - 'a subscription/hybrid journal that is committed to transitioning to a fully OA journal. In addition, it must: i) gradually increase the share of OA content and ii) offset subscription income from payments for publishing services (to avoid double payments)'. View a current list of Transformative Journals. If you begin the process of publishing with a Transformative Journal which is complaint at that point in time, you can publish in that journal even if the transformative journal designation is subsequently revoked.


Plan S also includes a rights retention policy, allowing authors to apply a CC BY licence to their Author’s Accepted Manuscripts (AAM) or the published Version of Record (VoR). The statement wording is in our policy: 'for the purposes of open access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any author accepted manuscript version arising from this submission'. This will allow you to put the Author’s Accepted Manuscript into BIROn without any embargo period, ensuring compliance by the Green route and, under the terms of the College policy should be included in every AAM you submit (similarly Wellcome and UKRI require this statement in all papers produced from research that they sponsor).

You work long and hard to produce your research outputs, so carefully consider before you sign away your rights. Review any documents which you are asked to sign by a publisher to check whether they are compatible with deposit in BIROn, or with other future use of your work, such as re-using data in your teaching. If you have any questions contact the BIROn team or the Research Office.

In the event that the policy requirement to apply a CC BY licence to your Author’s Accepted Manuscripts (AAM) or the published Version of Record (VoR) diverges from publisher preference (for example, the publisher refuses any alterations to its publishing agreement) then the College recommends you do not sign the agreement, especially if doing so contravenes the mandate of your research funder. If you find yourself in this situation, please contact Paul Rigg in the first instance for further advice.


  • Assuming there are funds available through the block grant(s), you can pay an APC for Gold open access unless the journal operates a hybrid model with no plans to transform. The journal must be either:
    • a) 'Pure' Gold with no subscription element, or 
    • b) have a subscription element but be committed to transforming under one of the three Transformational Arrangement options. However, for these journals, funders have committed that they will not fund non-compliant journals after 31 December 2024. You can check the status for individual journals using the tools listed below.
  • UKRI and Wellcome block funds cannot be used to pay other charges associated with publication, including page and colour charges, and non-open access publication charges and fees.


1. Can I pay an APC if the journal offers a green route with zero embargo?

  • Yes, if the journal only operates as a Gold open access journal or is a hybrid journal operating under a Transformative Arrangement. However, the College preference is for the green open access route in this case.

2. Can I pay an APC if the journal has a Transformative Agreement in the UK but Birkbeck hasn’t signed up for it?

  • Yes. The additional guidance document dated 22.12.21 states that eligible costs include 'Open access fees in journals approved by JISC as meeting the research sectors requirements for transition to OA.' As long as the journal is transforming in one of the three agreed ways, you can pay an APC to publish in the relevant journal. However, please note some funders only allow APCs as an eligible cost for the corresponding author.

3. What are the rules on co-authors and TAs (e.g. my co-author is at an institution with a Transformative Agreement, can we use it even if I am the lead author)?

  • The key element here is Corresponding Author, not necessarily Lead Author. A corresponding author is the individual who, when working on a paper with multiple authors, takes primary responsibility for communicating with the journal you intend to publish in. The corresponding author usually makes themselves available throughout the process to respond to editorial queries. UCL encourages their authors to ensure they are listed as the Corresponding Author if they want to use their Transformative Agreements, and Wellcome encourages Wellcome-funded authors, where appropriate, to act as corresponding author (or co-corresponding author) on an article 'to enable Wellcome-funded research to be published open access under a TA' (and some publishers are tightening their rules around co-authorship in order to make this approach more difficult). Read Wellcome's support document.
  • Please note that this approach must only be adopted when it is appropriate to do so, and we would like to remind colleagues that misrepresentation of authorship is not condoned by the College, and in fact, the College recognises that in some circumstances misrepresentation of authorship can be a form of research misconduct.
  • It is for reasons such as this that the College preference is for green open access through the repository.

4. What funding is available to cover Gold Open Access fees?

  • If your research is sponsored by the Wellcome Trust or UKRI then the College receives a block grant which may be able to support Gold Open Access charges in an eligible journal and if a suitable licence is applied. Please contact the Research Office for more information.
  • If your research is funded by a different sponsor, then if Gold Open Access fees are an eligible expense and were included in the original budget submitted to the funded, then these costs can be charged from this source. Please contact the Research Office for more information.
  • If your research is sponsored by a funder who does not allow Gold Open Access fees as an eligible expense, or if the research is sponsored by the College (including your school or department) then these funds can be paid locally as long as the journal is compliant and the correct licence type is applied. These decisions are at the discretion of the Executive Dean. However, as noted above, the College preference is for the Green Open Access route wherever possible.


  • Use the Journal Checker Tool (in beta) to see if the journal you're thinking about submitting to is compliant with your funder's requirements. There have been a few teething problems with the JCT so JISC have provided a resource for UK academics which more correctly reflects the UK funding landscape:
  • The SHERPA/RoMEO website provides summaries of publisher and journal policies relating to Green Open Access (i.e. depositing the AAM in BIROn). For REF2021, SHERPA/RoMEO was a trusted source and researchers could rely on it to determine compliance with the REF policy. This is likely to be the case for the next REF.
  • SHERPA/FACT is a tool to help researchers check if a journal complies with their funder's requirements for open access, and SHERPA/JULIET has information on research funders' open access policies (which may be useful when considering which funder to apply to, for example).
  • The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is an online whitelist which indexes and links to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals. It aims to be the starting point for all information searches for quality, peer-reviewed OA material. Not all open access platforms are reputable, and OA initiatives have arguably stimulated a surge in the number of predatory publishers and journals. You should always check DOAJ if you have any questions about a journal’s credibility. Signs to look out for include:
    • The Board of Editors list doesn’t look right - containing members who are not recognised in the field, or are affiliated with unusual institutions (but note this isn’t infallible, Board members’ names may be used without their permission).
    • Journals with an unexpected location for their registered office.
    • Unsolicited invitations to publish from a journal you have never heard of.
    • Conferences run by event managers in attractive locations.

If in doubt, contact Paul Rigg in the Library, who may be able to help.



All research:

  • either uses, develops or expands underlying materials such as code, software, numerical scores, textual records, images, sounds, objects, manuscripts etc.
  • or generates information that has been (e.g.) collected, observed, or created to validate original research findings
  • or both.

This constitutes the data that underpins the research you have undertaken. This may be a single document listing your archival sources, code that pulls the secondary data from external APIs, or a library of video interviews. Almost anything could be research data.

It is important that the data that underpins your research is available to other researchers so that they can test your findings and develop new research.

Secondary data may form part of the data you use in your project. You must have permission to reuse secondary data and you must abide by any conditions imposed by the license under which this data is made available. For example, some licenses dictate how you must share the data in the future; a CC-BY-SA (Creative Commons-credit the creator-share alike) license means you must also share your data with the same share-alike license.


The College provides a data repository, BiRD, to allow our researchers to make their data open. There may also be a subject repository which is widely recognised in your discipline, or your funder may specify data has to be deposited in a specific repository. If you make your data openly available in a repository outside the College then you must still create a metadata record in BIRD to tell people how to find the data which can be pulled through to your staff profile page.

It should be noted that much data requires extensive curation before it is in an appropriate form to deposit in a repository such as BIRD. It is the responsibility of the depositor to ensure that no sensitive or personal data is uploaded to BiRD, and to try and present the data in such a way to allow reuse.

By depositing data in BiRD, you will also receive a Digital Object Identifier (DOI), along with a copiable citation which you can use in a Data Access Statement. If you choose to use a subject-specific repository, or an external repository such as Figshare, you should ensure that you use their DOI in your Data Access Statements. All data deposited into BIRD (or any other repository) should comply with BiRD collection policy and adopt FAIR principles – i.e. it should be findable (which it will be through being in BIRD), accessible, interoperable and re-useable. Visit OpenAIRE's 'How to make your data FAIR' guide for more information.

It should also be noted that when depositing data in a repository in an open way it is still possible to set restrictions in the repository to regulate access if your data is sensitive, and you should contact the Research Data Support Manager if your data may fall into this category. As noted by the UK Data Service (a service funded by UKRI to support open research data for all UK universities), sensitive and confidential data can be open but safeguarded by regulating or restricting access to, and use of, the data. Access controls should always be proportionate to the kind of data and level of confidentiality involved.

When regulating access, consider the following:

  • Who would be able to access your data?
  • What might they be able to do with it?
  • Are any specific use restrictions required?
  • How long do you want the data to be available?

Three levels of control are commonly operated by repositories - open data, safeguarded data and closed data:

  • Open data are licensed under an open licence, such as a suitable Creative Commons Licence, and users do not need to register to access the data.
  • Safeguarded data are licensed under the End User Licence and users need to be registered. Users agree to certain conditions, such as not to disseminate any identifying or confidential information on individuals, households or organisations, and not to use the data to attempt to obtain information relating specifically to an identifiable individual. Safeguarded data may have additional conditions, such as requiring data owner permission or prohibiting commercial use.
  • Controlled data are only available to users who have been trained and accredited and their data usage has been approved by the relevant Data Access Committee. Access is through a physical or virtual secure environment and the Five Safes principles apply (safe data, safe projects, safe people, safe settings, safe outputs).

Some data collections are made available under different access levels, with confidential data available under controlled access and non-confidential data available under standard access.

There can also be a need to delay access to data in time, for example, to allow time for publication. An embargo can be applied in these cases.

All of these stages can be managed within the repository, please contact the Research Data Support Manager for more information about this.


In general terms, the Principal Investigator (PI) on a research project is responsible for ensuring data collection, analysis, curation and deposit are undertaken within the parameters defined above; however, in collaborative projects, day-to-day responsibility is often delegated to members of the project team. By the end of their PhD programme, PhD students should be able to produce a dataset that is suitable for deposit in a repository; however, as the person responsible for training the student, the supervisor could hold some responsibility in the event of a data breach in certain circumstances.

All funded research and any research that includes human participants must have a data management plan in place before data collection begins. This should consider how the data will be managed throughout the life-course of the project. The College also strongly recommends that a data management plan is created for all projects where data is created or reused, especially collaborative projects and those that create large qualities of data, and recommends DMP online for this purpose.

If you are supervising a student who is going to be collecting data on people, or collecting large quantities of data, consider asking them to create a Data Management Plan as part of the preparation. PhD students should be expected to be able to create their own DMP although they will need support in the early phases of their PhD.

If you are creating non-digital data, consider how this will be managed after the end of the project. How would you cite this data in a Data Access Statement? How would you share it? Do peer-reviewers require access to it in advance of publication? A Data Management Plan may help address these issues.


1. The Concordat on Open Research Data.

  • In terms of the research data you produce, the College is required to comply with the Concordat on Open Research Data.
  • The Concordat is a set of 10 principles which define best practice to support institutions and their researchers to make their data open effectively and ethically, and to recognise the real challenges associated with making data open.
  • The Open Research Policy has been drafted to be in line with the requirements of the Concordat, so if you follow the stipulations in paragraphs 3.8 and 4.1-4.8 of the policy you will be meeting the required minimum expectations required of you as a researcher under the Concordat.

2. General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)

  • GDPR and the UK Data Protection Act 2018 govern the processing (acquiring, holding, using, etc.) of personal data in the UK.
  • Personal data is data that relates to living people from which they can be directly or indirectly identified - direct identifiability being from the data itself, or indirect identifiability being from the combination of the data with other available data. As such, data that has been pseudonymised may still be personal data.
  • Thus, GDPR applies to the collection, storage and use of anything that might in any way be used to identify an individual. This includes name, ID number, location (including IP address and data from cookies), online identifiers, physical and physiological factors, biometrics, and genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity.
  • GDPR does not apply if your research involves only fully anonymised data where there is no way of linking it back to the individual it relates to, including through use of a code or numerical identifier.
  • GDPR was not designed to impede research and allows research certain privileges. It recognises that any data can be useful for research, and that research can be a long-term endeavour. Research can therefore be exempt from the purpose and storage limitations as long as the other data protection principles and specific safeguards are met.
  • GDPR demands that data processing is lawful, fair and transparent but in most cases these requirements can largely be demonstrated by reference to existing university research governance systems. The legal basis for processing research data in universities is almost always public task. Legitimate interest is the legal basis for research you are commissioned to undertake e.g. by a company or similar body.
  • However, when processing special categories of data, like personal data about health, ethnicity, political opinions, religious beliefs, etc., you must meet an additional condition. In these cases, the most likely condition will be that such processing is 'necessary for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes in accordance with safeguards'.
  • In research, we usually seek informed consent from people to participate in a project. This is addressed in the section on ethical approval. However, under GDPR participants have a legal right to be informed and it is important that when you obtain consent from participants it also includes the necessary considerations and transparency required by GDPR. Under GDPR, the right to be informed is:
    • Individuals have the right to be informed about the collection and use of their personal data.
    • You must provide individuals with information including: your purposes for processing their personal data, your retention periods for that personal data, and who it will be shared with.
    • You must provide privacy information to individuals at the time you collect their personal data from them. If you obtain personal data from other sources, you must provide individuals with privacy information within a reasonable period of obtaining the data and no later than one month.
    • There are a few circumstances when you do not need to provide people with privacy information, such as if an individual already has the information or if it would involve a disproportionate effort to provide it to them.
    • The information you provide to people must be concise, transparent, intelligible, easily accessible, and it must use clear and plain language.
    • You must bring any new uses of an individual’s personal data to their attention before you start the processing.
  • GDPR does not prevent research data from being archived and shared for research use by others, as long as the data protection principles are met. An example is where researchers collect data directly from participants, you should discuss their intention to reuse in further research and to deposit in an archive. If you need to share the personal data with another body (e.g. a transcription service) for processing purposes, you need to have a data sharing agreement in place with that body before the data is shared to set out everybody’s duties and responsibilities, as defined through the consent process. Where participants expect their data to be kept confidential, sharing can only take place with the participant’s permission or through another legal avenue if their permission cannot be obtained.
  • There are specific requirements for transferring personal data to non-EU countries which may impact international collaborative research. If this applies to your research, seek advice from the College's .

3. Ethical approvals

All the information you need about the College's approach to ethical approvals can be found on the Research integrity pages of the Birkbeck website. Ethical approvals relate to our moral duties as researchers and can extend and clarify the duties imposed on us by relevant legislation, such as GDPR.

Each School has its own Ethics Committee which oversees ethical approval:

3a. Informed consent

It is the responsibility of the individual researcher to ensure that individuals providing data for analysis in the research have given informed consent to do so. In order to ensure that consent is fully informed, participants need to consent to:

  • the processes you will use to collect the agreed data from them
  • how this data will be processed and used by you (including if you will pass the data to any third party for processing)
  • what you will do with the data after you have analysed it
  • how you will make the data available to other researchers to use.

Ethical approvals work on the basis of minimising the risk of harm to the researcher and the subjects of the research. As with GDPR, we also have legal duties to minimise risk which are embodied in health and safety law.

3b. Health and Safety Law

A thorough risk assessment will allow you to spot potential hazards before they can cause injury, and they often inform your safeguarding procedures. In addition, risk assessments are also a legal requirement in the UK.

The law states that a risk assessment must be 'suitable and sufficient'. The level of detail in a risk assessment should be proportionate to the risk and appropriate to the nature of the work. Insignificant risks can usually be ignored, as can risks arising from routine activities associated with life in general, unless the work activity compounds or significantly alters those risks.

It is the responsibility of the researcher undertaking the research to undertake the risk assessment where the nature of the work dictates that a risk assessment is necessary. A risk assessment would normally be undertaken before any higher-than-normal risk activity, such as lab-based experiments or data collection with human participants (but please note that this is not an exhaustive list).

Your risk assessment should only include what you could reasonably be expected to know - you are not expected to anticipate unforeseeable risks. It should show that:

  • a proper check was made
  • you asked who might be affected
  • you dealt with all the obvious significant risks, taking into account the number of people who could be involved
  • the precautions are reasonable, and the remaining risk is low
  • you involved others in the process when appropriate.

A risk assessment should be done:

  • before new processes or activities are introduced
  • before changes are introduced to existing processes or activities, including when products, machinery, tools, equipment change or new information concerning harm becomes available
  • when hazards are identified.

Visit the UCEA website for further information about Health and Safety law. There is also information about the College's approach to Health and Safety on the College's internet and intranet sites.



Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, designs, and symbols, names and images. IP is protected in law to enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create.

The most common types of IP are:

  • Copyright - a legal term used to describe the rights that creators have over their literary and artistic works. Works covered by copyright range from books, music, paintings, sculpture and films, to computer programs, databases, advertisements, maps and technical drawings. In the majority of countries, and according to the Berne Convention, copyright protection is obtained automatically without the need for registration or the payment of a fee. Read more about Copyright.
  • Patents - an exclusive right granted for an invention upon payment of a substantial fee. Generally speaking, a patent provides the patent owner with the right to decide how (or whether) the invention can be used by others. In exchange for this right, the patent owner makes technical information about the invention publicly available in the published patent document. Read more about Patents.
  • Trademarks - a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises. Trademarks date back to ancient times when artisans used to put their signature or 'mark' on their products. There is a fee associated with registering a trademark. Read more about Trademarks.
  • Registered designs - the registered design constitutes the ornamental or aesthetic aspect of an article. A design may consist of three-dimensional features, such as the shape or surface of an article, or of two-dimensional features, such as patterns, lines or colour. There is normally a fee associated with registering a design and the protections are limited. Read more about registered designs.
  • Know how - IP rights on confidential information which may be sold or licensed. The unauthorised acquisition, use or disclosure of such secret information in a manner contrary to honest commercial practices by others is regarded as an unfair practice and a violation of the trade secret protection. Read more about know how.

While most people are aware of patents, and that universities often patent outcomes from research in order to set up spin out companies which they then sell on, the most common form of IP exploitation used by universities is licencing.


Licensing is an arrangement where the College authorises another entity (company, charity, NGO etc) to access its intellectual property rights.


Creative Commons licenses give everyone from individual creators to large institutions a standardised way to grant the public permission to use their creative work under copyright law. From the re-user’s perspective, the presence of a Creative Commons license on a copyrighted work answers the question 'What can I do with this work?'

Please note, CC licences cannot be applied if someone else owns the copyright to the work.

As discussed in the open access section of this document, the College’s Open Research Policy expects that a version of the outputs defined as such in the policy must be published with a Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CC BY).

For other output types, other CC licences may be more appropriate - for example, when sharing datasets, the CC-BY-SA licence is commonly used, and similarly many academics make use of the CC-BY-NC licence type which allows users to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format for non-commercial purposes only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator. This licence does not prevent commercial users from ever using the material but if they wish to do so they must negotiate a separate licence option and enter into a suitable revenue sharing agreement with the College, which recognises our legal duties as a charitable body and a recipient of public funds.

To apply a CC licence to your work, all you have to do is choose the CC license that suits your needs and then communicate this choice in a way that will be clear to people who come across your work. As part of this communication, you should include a link to the license you’ve chosen. This can be as simple as a bit of text stating and linking to the license in a copyright notice, like this: © 2019. This work is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 license; or as complex as embedding the license information on your website using the HTML code associated with the particular license.

For a full explanation of CC licences, please visit the Creative Commons website.