Complying with our open access policy
Guidance on how to comply with our open access policy.
Our open access policy applies to all original, peer-reviewed 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 we expect PhD theses to be made freely available from the EThOS repository as soon as possible.
Original research articles
You must ensure all journal articles that report original, peer-reviewed 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, such as reviews and editorials, are not included in the policy. Our funding cannot be used to pay the article processing charge for these papers.
This guidance provides practical advice on how to comply with our OA policy.
Find out more about:
- the routes to compliance
- using the Journal Checker tool
- applying a CC BY licence to journal submissions
- requesting an exception to CC BY.
Routes to compliance
There are three publishing routes you can follow to comply with Wellcome’s policy.
Our preferred routes to compliance are routes 1 or 2. These options ensure that the final published version (which includes all copy-editing changes and a commitment to update the work with any corrections etc) is made OA at the time of publication.
Route 1: Publish in a fully OA journal or platform.
For example, eLife, PLOS Biology or Wellcome Open Research.
Using this route, the publisher takes responsibility for making the Version of Record 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 (APCs) for papers published via this route where the journal:
- is indexed by the Directory of Open Access Journals and comply with the technical guidance and requirements set out by cOAlition S, and
- has an agreement with the National Library of Medicine to deposit the Version of Record 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.
Route 2: Publish in a subscription journal through a transformative arrangement that is available to you via your organisation.
- transformative agreements – if this option is available to you through your organisation, for example, the Wiley OA Agreement.
- transformative journals.
Under this route, the publisher takes responsibility for making the Version of Record for the articles freely available in Europe PMC at the time of publication, under a CC BY licence.
From 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2024, UK organisations in receipt of Wellcome open access funding can use these funds for publication costs associated with transformative 'read and publish' agreements.
Until 31 December 2024, we will fund the cost of publishing in a transformative journal.
The Journal Checker Tool will let you know if a transformative arrangement for your preferred journal is available to you through your organisation.
Route 3: Publish in a subscription journal and take responsibility for making the Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM) freely available from Europe PMC at the time of publication.
Where a publisher has not implemented publishing models to transition away from subscriptions, you can still seek to publish in any subscription journal and make a copy of the AAM freely available from Europe PMC at the time of publication, under a CC BY licence.
By applying a CC BY (or CC BY-ND, if approved) public copyright licence to all journal submissions, you retain the right to deposit a copy of the AAM in Europe PMC and for your work to be shared in this way under this licence.
When you select a journal, you should check the terms of the publishing contract to make sure that it doesn't affect your ability to comply with our policy via this route.
Use the author manuscript submission system Europe PMC plus to deposit your AAM.
When complying by this route, no APC is payable to the publisher.
Some hybrid journals – which have not yet implemented publishing models to transition away from subscriptions – now ask grantholders to agree to pay an Article Processing Charge (APC) at the point of submission.
Our funds cannot be used to support these fees.
If grantholders (or their organisations) are unable to fund the APC, they should not commit to paying these fees at the point of submission.
Grantholders should either:
- contact the journal to check if they will grant a waiver
- consider publishing in another journal.
You should not sign a publishing contract that conflicts with our open access requirements. These are set out in our grant conditions – in particular, a publishing contract that:
- applies an embargo period to the self-archiving of the AAM post publication, and
- does not allow the AAM to be made freely available under a CC BY licence.
Before submission check the journal’s relevant standard publishing agreement for terms or conditions that may prevent you implementing your right to self-archive the Author Accepted Manuscript at the time of publication and under a CC BY licence.
If a journal refuses to accept a submission which makes clear that any Author Accepted Manuscripts arising from the submission will already be licensed under a prior CC BY licence, you will need to reconsider where to publish your research.
Where a journal accepts a submission with a prior CC BY licence, but on acceptance imposes terms and conditions, via a publishing agreement or otherwise, that prevent you from meeting our OA requirements, follow these steps:
- If the journal provides a paid open access option for individual articles, seek to publish via this route and request a waiver from the journal for the article processing charge (APC). NOTE: Wellcome funds can’t be used to pay the APC.
- If the waiver requested in Step 1 is not given, then request a publishing agreement amendment via the journal editorial office. You can use this template addendum. [DOCX 31KB]
- If the requests outlined in Step 1 and Step 2 above are both rejected by the journal, contact Wellcome (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Read more about publishing in hybrid, open access journals.
Researchers must follow the steps below to ensure compliance with our open access policy.
1. Use the Journal Checker Tool
You can use the Journal Checker Tool to check if your preferred journal enables you to comply with our policy and, if so, which route you should use.
2. Apply a CC BY licence to journal submissions
To ensure you (or anyone supported/associated with the grant) can comply with our policy, you must apply a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) public copyright licence to all Author Accepted Manuscripts arising from submissions to peer-reviewed journals that report original research.
If you allow others to own copyright in AAMs, you must ensure that they apply the CC BY licence to all future submissions.
You must include the following text in all submissions:
'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.'
This text must also be included in:
- any cover letter that accompanies the submission
- the funding acknowledgement section of the manuscript.
If a journal refuses to accept a submission that is already licensed CC BY, you will need to reconsider where to publish your research.
3. Request an exception to the CC BY licence, if required
Our policy requires all journal articles to be published under a CC BY licence. As an exception, you can ask for individual articles 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, include the following text in the journal submission:
'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-ND public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission.'
If a journal refuses to accept a submission that is already licensed CC BY-ND, you will need to reconsider where to publish your research.
4. Acknowledge Wellcome's support
Make sure that all your Wellcome-funded papers:
- acknowledge our contribution, and
- include the grant reference number under which your reported research was funded.
5. Make data and software available to other researchers
Make sure your paper includes a statement explaining how other researchers can access any data, original software or materials underpinning the research.
For more information, read our:
- Guidance on what to include in data and software availability statements and exemplars of good practice [PDF 259KB]
- Data, software and materials management and sharing policy.
If you have any questions contact email@example.com.
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 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 publication status or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 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 or CC BY-NC-ND.
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.
You need the following information to complete the form:
- relevant Wellcome grant number or grantholder's name
- full text monograph or book chapter files, plus associated metadata files if available
- licence details of the publication
- embargo release date, if applicable.
Open access monographs and book chapters will be freely available in both html and PDF format via the repositories.
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 email@example.com. 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 awards we make 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 how to get open access funding.
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 Art, the Getty, Wellcome Images and Yale Center for British Art.
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 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 the our policy where a Wellcome-funded researcher appears as a co-author.
We monitor research papers 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.
When research papers aren't compliant, we won't:
- issue formal notification of any funding renewals or new grants until applicants have made sure that their Wellcome-funded research papers – resulting from current or previous grants – are compliant
- accept new grant applications from a researcher where we identify non-compliant research papers in an end-of-grant report, until the papers are made compliant.
If a number of researchers from an organisation fail to comply with our OA 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.
- Complying with our open access policy
- Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC BY)
- Depositing your Wellcome-funded research
- Guidance for research organisations on how to implement responsible and fair approaches for research assessment
- Open access funding
- Open access guidance
- Open access guidance for Wellcome Centres and Africa and Asia Programmes
- Open access policy