Data, software and materials management and sharing policy

How researchers should manage and share data, software and materials that arise from Wellcome-funded research and outputs management plans.

As a charity, Wellcome works to ensure that the results of the research we fund are applied for the public good. This includes creating an environment that enables and incentivises researchers to maximise the value of their research outputs, including data, software and materials.

We expect our researchers to manage research outputs in a way that will achieve the greatest health benefit. This may involve making outputs widely available or using intellectual property (IP) as a tool to help protect and commercialise an original idea, product or technology.

There is international consensus on the need to share and preserve research datasets in a way that maximises their long-term value. Key documents such as the UK concordat on open research data (2016) articulate this.

Making data available in a timely and responsible way ensures other research can verify it, build on it and use it to advance knowledge and make health improvements. Similarly, making software or materials – such as antibodies or cell lines – available to the research community supports reproducibility and can underpin further research.

We recognise that in some circumstances, controls and limits on sharing are necessary – for example, to protect the confidentiality and privacy of research participants, or to enable IP to be developed, protected and used in line with our policy on intellectual property.

Our policy 

1. We expect our researchers to maximise the availability of research data, software and materials with as few restrictions as possible. As a minimum, the data underpinning research papers should be made available to other researchers at the time of publication, as well as any original software that is required to view datasets or to replicate analyses. Where research data relates to public health emergencies, researchers must share quality-assured interim and final data as rapidly and widely as possible, and in advance of journal publication. 

2. Anyone applying for Wellcome funding must consider their approach to managing and sharing anticipated outputs at the research proposal stage. In cases where data, software or materials that will hold value as a resource for others in academia or industry will be generated, applicants will need to include an outputs management plan explaining their planned approach. We will review this plan when making our funding decision. We will fund any justified costs for delivering the plan as part of funding the research.

3. Researchers’ approach to outputs management should be dynamic. Plans should reflect established best practice in the respective research field. In particular, researchers should make sure their shared outputs:

  • are discoverable
  • use recognised community repositories for data and other outputs where these exist
  • use persistent identifiers for these outputs wherever possible.

Grantholders should review their outputs management plan throughout the research lifecycle.

4. Wellcome expects all users of research data, software and materials to cite the source, and to abide by the terms and conditions under which they were accessed.

5. We recognise and value a range of research outputs – including inventions, datasets, software and materials, as well as publications – in assessing the track record of researchers. Guidance to our committees, reviewers and staff emphasises that our funding decisions should take account of the:

  • full and diverse range of outputs that results from research
  • efforts made by researchers to use outputs to deliver health benefits or assist further research.

6. Wellcome will also consider whether researchers have managed and shared their research outputs in line with our requirements, as a critical part of the end-of-grant reporting process.

See also our:

Updated 10 July 2017

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