Complying with our open access policy

Guidance on how to comply with our open access policy.


Our open access policy applies to all original research publications that have been supported, in whole or in part, by Wellcome.

It does not apply to PhD theses by Wellcome-funded students, but PhD theses should be freely available from the EThOS repository as soon as possible.

All research publications must acknowledge Wellcome's support and list the grant reference number which funded the research reported.

This guidance provides practical advice on how to comply with our open access (OA) policy.

Original research articles 

You must ensure all research articles that report original research supported in whole, or in part, by Wellcome funding, comply with our open access policy. 

Article types, whose focus is to report original research, are included in the policy. Other manuscript types are not included in this policy, including: 

  • research/study protocols
  • systematic reviews
  • scoping reviews
  • meta-analyses

However, we will fund the article processing charges for these article types where they are authored by Wellcome-funded researchers and published in fully open access journals or platforms indexed by the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). Find out more on our Open access funding page.

To comply with the policy, you must ensure that at least one version of the research article is available within Europe PubMed Central (Europe PMC) under a Creative Commons (CC) BY licence. This could be:  

  • the final published version of record, or
  • the author accepted manuscript

If you are unable to make the version of record or the author accepted manuscript open access, then post a preprint under a CC BY licence. We will accept this as compliant with the policy in these situations.

Below we provide guidance on how you can make sure different versions of the article comply with the policy. 

Version of Record (VoR) 

The version of record (VoR) is the final fully copyedited, typeset and formatted copy of a manuscript, as printed and distributed by a publisher.

If you wish to use the version of record (VoR) of your article to comply with our policy, then it must be available under a CC BY licence from Europe PMC at the time of publication in the journal or platform.

Most journals provide options that enable authors to make the version of record (VoR) open access, often by charging authors an article processing charge for their publishing services.   

Wellcome will only fund the cost of article processing charges in fully open access journals or platforms and until 31 December 2024 in cOAlition S approved transformative journals. However, you or your co-authors may be able to publish the version of record (VoR) open access in a range of other hybrid journals using publishing agreements held by your institution.  

We recommend that you use the Journal Checker Tool to help you work out if the version of record (VoR) can be made open access, either through your organisational agreements with the publisher or using Wellcome funding. 

Further information on the different routes to make the version of record (VoR) open access are below.

Publishing in a fully open access journal or platform

A list of fully open access journals can be found in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) , for example, eLife, PLOS Biology or Wellcome Open Research.  

Using this route, the publisher takes responsibility for making the version of record (VoR) for the article freely available from Europe PMC at the time of publication, under a CC BY licence.  

We are willing to fund fair and reasonable article processing charges for papers published using this route where the journal:

  • is indexed by the Directory of Open Access Journals and
  • has an agreement with the National Library of Medicine to deposit the version of record (VoR) in PMC and allow that content to be shared with Europe PMC

Read about how to get open access funding to cover open access publishing costs for research papers.    

Publishing in other journals

A transformative journal (TJ) is a former subscription or hybrid journal that a publisher has pledged will transition to full and immediate open access according to Plan S criteria.

Wellcome funding cannot be used to pay for article processing charges in journals that are not fully open access or don’t have transformative journal status.  However, you or your co-authors may be able to make your article open access through institutional agreements with publishers. These are known by a variety of names including transformative agreements or read and publish agreements. Your institution may provide a list of journals accessible through this route, otherwise you can use the Journal Checker Tool to see if your chosen journal is part of an agreement.  
Please note that for an article to qualify to be made open access as part of an agreement, the corresponding author must be based at the institution that is participating in the agreement.

If you do not have access to institutional agreements to publish the version of record (VoR) open access in a journal, please make a different version of your article (the Author Accepted Manuscript or the preprint) open access in line with our policy. Or consider publishing your research in a different journal. 

Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM) 

An Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM) is the version of a research article, as accepted for publication and including all changes made during the peer-review process. 

If you are complying with the policy using the Author Accepted Manuscript version of the article you must self-archive the Author Accepted Manuscript under a CC BY licence in Europe PMC at the time of publication of the final published version of record. 

Rights retention  

Most journals’ publishing agreements specify when, and how, the Author's Accepted Manuscript can be made open access. Therefore, to achieve this, you (or your institution) need to retain sufficient rights to apply a CC BY licence to the Author Accepted Manuscript. This is known as rights retention

By applying a CC BY public copyright licence to journal submissions (or CC BY-ND, if approved by Wellcome), you retain the right to deposit a copy of the Author Accepted Manuscript in Europe PMC and for your work to be shared in this way under this licence. 

It is important to check that you or your institution can retain sufficient rights to be able to share the Author Accepted Manuscript version of the manuscript. Before submitting to a journal, it is your responsibility to check that your agreement with your journal of choice allows you to do this. You still have the option of making the preprint available as outlined below.  

Should you wish to retain your right to self-archive, it is advisable to notify the publisher of this intention at the point of submission. If your institution has a rights-retention policy, they may provide standard language to use. View a list of institutions with rights-retention open-access policies. 

If your institution does not have a rights-retention policy, you can use the following language: 

'This research was funded in whole, or in part by the Wellcome Trust [Grant number xxxxx]. For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission.'  

If the above rights-retention text is used, then it should also be included in: 

  • any cover letter that accompanies the submission 
  • the funding acknowledgement section of the manuscript 

When using this route to compliance, no article processing charges (APC) should be payable to the publisher. Wellcome open access funds cannot be used to pay article processing charges in subscription or hybrid journals.    

How to self-archive the Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM) 

Use the author manuscript submission system Europe PMC plus to deposit your Author Accepted Manuscript. Find out more information on how to deposit Wellcome-funded research. 


A preprint is a version of a scholarly or scientific paper that precedes formal peer review and publication in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal.

To comply with our policy by posting a preprint version of the article, it must be published under a CC BY licence on a preprint server indexed in Europe PMC. The preprint can be posted during the publication process but should be uploaded to a preprint server prior to the acceptance of the article in a journal. 

The preprint must clearly acknowledge Wellcome funding. Find out more on our How to acknowledge Wellcome funding in research outputs page.

Exception to the CC BY licence

Our policy requires all Wellcome-funded original research to be published under a CC BY licence. We believe that this licence enables the full potential of research publications as it removes restrictions on access to, and re-use of, this information.   

However, we understand that there are some instances where researchers may wish to limit re-use of published research. For example, where private archival content or research participants have been quoted. In these cases, you can ask for an exception for an individual article to be published under a Creative Commons No-Derivatives licence (CC BY-ND), so that your research cannot be used to create derivatives works without your permission.

To apply for this exception, you should complete a CC BY-ND exception form. You will need to have your request approved before your paper is submitted for publication.

If we’ve approved a CC BY-ND licence, you may need to check that the journal or publisher you are using allows this licence.

Monographs and book chapters 

We recognise that key research findings may be published as scholarly monographs or book chapters. We want the visibility and impact of these research outputs to be maximised.

What’s covered by our policy

Our open access policy applies to all original scholarly monographs and book chapters authored or co-authored by Wellcome grantholders as part of their grant-funded research. The policy does not apply to textbooks, ‘trade’ books, general reference works or works of fiction, or to collections edited, but not authored, by Wellcome grantholders.

We will make funds available for the payment of publishers’ open access monograph and book chapter processing charges.

Differentiating between journals and book series

It may be unclear whether your work is being published in a journal or as part of a book series. Some journals indexed in MEDLINE (U.S. National Library of Medicine – NLM – bibliographic database) are marketed as book series. However, as all publications indexed by MEDLINE have been submitted for indexing as journals by the publisher, we consider them to be journals.

If you're unsure, you can check the NLM publication status or email

How to comply with our open access policy

To ensure your scholarly monograph or book chapter complies with our open access policy, you must make it available from National Center for Biotechnology (NCBI) Bookshelf and Europe PMC as soon as possible. It must be within six months of the publisher's official date of final publication.

Where an open access publishing fee is charged, works must be available without embargo and licensed in ways which support their re-use. CC BY is strongly preferred, however, where authors have concerns around the creation of derivative works we will accept other creative commons licences such as CC BY-NC (Non Commercial) or CC BY-NC-ND (Non Commercial; No Derivatives).

Funding is available to cover publishers' open access monograph and book chapter processing charges.  

Wellcome grantholders or publishers of research funded by Wellcome should use this deposit form to deposit a monograph or book chapter for inclusion in the NCBI Bookshelf and Europe PMC.

Open access monographs and book chapters will be freely available in both html and PDF format via the repositories as well as in epub format from OAPEN (the online library and publication platform for books) and the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB).

Publishers with a compliant open access option for monographs

We work with authors and publishers to ensure that a researcher's ability to choose the publisher they feel is most appropriate isn't compromised by trying to comply with our policy.

We believe adopting a strong open access mandate will give existing publishers a rationale to develop more open access book publishing options. This will encourage new, fully open access book publishers to emerge.

OAPEN has a list of compliant book publishers.

If you’re thinking of publishing a monograph or book chapter with a publisher that doesn’t have an open access option, please email We'll work with you and the publisher to see if it's possible to publish your work open access.

Meeting open access costs

The block grant we provide to organisations for open access cannot be used to cover the cost of open access fees associated with Wellcome-funded scholarly monographs and book chapters. 

For more information, see our How to get open access funding page.

Using third-party images in open access publications

It is possible to use third-party images in open access publications, but this is a new area for many authors, publishers and image providers. There are challenges working out how images can be reused and licensed within open access content.

You should ask for permission to use the image(s) as usual.

It’s important to inform the owner of the image that your work will be published open access. However, the choice of how the image itself is licensed remains with the image’s owner.

Ideally, the image will be published under the same licence as the rest of your work, but this is not essential – the image can be licensed separately.

A number of major image providers have made their collections open access, for example the National Gallery of ArtGetty, Wellcome Images and Yale Center for British Art.

Image fees

Wellcome’s open access fund can’t be used to pay image fees. If it’s essential to use a third-party image, you can ask for the cost of reasonable image fees in your grant application.

How we define ‘scholarly’ monographs or book chapters

‘Scholarly’ books are defined by their content and their intended audience.

  • Content – the books represent the results of original academic research, presented in accordance with recognised academic conventions, for example with rigorous inclusion of bibliographic references.
  • Audience – scholarly books are written by, and aimed at, those who are actively engaged with or interested in academic research, rather than a general readership.  


Scholarly books are sometimes identifiable by the publisher, imprint, or series, or by the way in which they are described and marketed by publishers. They’re unlikely to be stocked by general booksellers.

What to expect from publishers

When paying a fee to make your book open access, your publisher should:  

  • offer the same peer review and marketing services for open access books as they do for non-open access books
  • make the full text of the monograph or book chapter freely available in HTML and PDF format on their website
  • deposit your work in NCBI Bookshelf on your behalf, to help you comply with our open access policy

Most publishers publish a print copy and an epub version (digital file) of the book to sell. Some publishers offer the epub for free.  

Some publishers offer royalties on print and e-book sales of open access books. This is something you can discuss during the negotiation.  

The scope of being funded 'in whole or in part' 

Our open access policy applies:  

  • to research that has been funded in whole or in part through a Wellcome grant (either during the award, or after the funding period has ended) 

  • where a Wellcome Fellow or any other individual in receipt of salary support from Wellcome appears as a co-author during the period of their award (this applies even where the specific research project is not Wellcome-funded)

  • to research at Wellcome Centres and Africa and Asia Programmes which has been supported through the core award, even if the research has been primarily supported by grants from one or more other funders

Wellcome-funded researchers should ensure that the provision of data, materials or technical assistance to external users is acknowledged in resulting research papers, in line with best practice in that field. But these papers would only fall under our policy where a Wellcome-funded researcher appears as a co-author. 

Monitoring compliance 

We monitor research publications authored by our funded researchers to make sure they comply with our policy. We do this when researchers apply for funding, and when they submit their end-of-grant reports. 

Only when Wellcome funded researchers have ensured their research publications resulting from current or previous grants are compliant will we:

  • issue formal notification of any funding renewals or new grants, or
  • accept new grant applications from the researcher 

If a number of researchers from an organisation fail to comply with our open access policy, we will work with the organisation to better understand and resolve the issues. If an organisation doesn't work with us on this, we reserve the right to suspend grant payments to that organisation.

Updated in January 2024

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