Open access policy

Published outputs that arise from our funding must be open and accessible to everyone.

Open access policy – from 1 January 2021

The overarching aim of our open access (OA) policy is to make sure that knowledge and discoveries resulting from our funding are shared and used in a way that maximises their benefit to health.

Providing free, online access to published research will:

  • maximise the availability and usability of publications
  • make sure the research we fund can be built upon.

Our new OA policy is in line with the key principles of Plan S. Wellcome is a member of cOAlition S and is committed to working in partnership with other funders to make all research articles OA.

What the policy applies to

Our new OA policy will apply to any article that:

  • includes original, peer-reviewed research


  • is submitted for publication from 1 January 2021.

The new policy won’t apply to:

  • research articles submitted before 1 January 2021 – until then researchers must continue to use our current policy
  • monographs and book chapters – we aren’t changing our policy for these, but we are keeping it under review.

Journal articles submitted from 1 January 2021

All research articles supported in whole, or in part, by Wellcome must be:

  • made freely available through PubMed Central (PMC) and Europe PMC by the official final publication date


  • published under a Creative Commons attribution licence (CC BY), unless we have agreed, as an exception, to allow publication under a CC BY-ND licence.

How to comply

Grantholders should read our Complying with our OA policy for detailed practical guidance on how to comply.

How we've changed our grant conditions to help grantholders comply

We will update our grant conditions before January 2021 to include:

  • a new condition that all grantholders will automatically grant a CC BY public copyright licence to all their future Author Accepted Manuscripts. This will apply to manuscripts that are:
    • reporting original research
    • supported in whole, or in part, by Wellcome grant funding.
  • an update to the existing condition whereby grantholders must also include the following statement on all submissions of original research to peer-reviewed journals:

These changes seek to ensure that grantholders (and anyone supported/associated with the grant) can:

  • continue to publish in any journal they choose (provided it accepts that Author Accepted Manuscripts arising from submissions from Wellcome-funded researchers will already be licensed under a prior CC BY licence)


  • retain the necessary intellectual property rights to remain compliant with our OA policy.

Making data and software available to other researchers

All research articles supported in whole, or in part, by Wellcome must include a statement explaining how other researchers can access any data, original software or materials underpinning the research. This is in line with our data, software and materials management and sharing policy.


All Wellcome-funded researchers are strongly encouraged to:

  • post preprints of their completed manuscripts 
  • publish them under a CC BY licence on a platform that is indexed in Europe PMC.

Where there is a significant public health benefit to preprints being shared widely and rapidly, such as a disease outbreak, we require the posting of preprints.

Costs we'll provide

We will provide grantholders with funding to cover fair and reasonable article processing charges (APCs) for articles published in fully OA journals or platforms that:


  • have an agreement with the National Library of Medicine (NLM) to deposit the version of record in PMC and allow that content to be shared with Europe PMC.

We will no longer cover the costs of OA publishing in subscription journals. Grant applicants cannot ask for these costs in their grant application, and grantholders will not be allowed to use their grant funds to pay for these costs.

However, from 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2024, UK organisations can use Wellcome OA funds for publication costs associated with transformative OA arrangements. These costs must be in proportion to the number of OA articles supported by Wellcome.

We do not fund any non-OA publication costs (for example colour, page charges etc).

Responsible and fair research assessment

We are committed to making sure that when we assess research outputs during funding decisions, we consider the intrinsic merit of the work, not the title of the journal or publisher.

All Wellcome-funded organisations must also publicly commit to this principle. For example, they can sign the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment, Leiden Manifesto or equivalent. We’ve produced guidance for organisations on responsible and fair approaches for research assessment, that sets out three high-level requirements and other activities they could consider to support these.

We may ask organisations to show that they’re complying with this as part of our organisation audits.

Compliance and sanctions

Researchers and organisations who do not comply with this policy will be subject to appropriate sanctions. These may include Wellcome:

  • not accepting new grant applications
  • suspending funding to organisations in extreme cases.

More information

Open access policy – before 1 January 2021


The current OA policy for journal articles will expire on 31 December 2020. For books and monographs, the current policy will continue to apply.

Current policy


  • expect authors of research papers, monographs and book chapters to maximise the opportunities to make their results available for free
  • require electronic copies of any research papers that have been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, and are supported in whole or in part by Wellcome Trust funding, to be made available through PubMed Central (PMC) and Europe PMC as soon as possible and in any event within six months of the journal publisher's official date of final publication (similarly, monographs and book chapters must be made available through PMC Bookshelf and Europe PMC with a maximum embargo of six months)
  • expect Wellcome-funded researchers to select publishing routes that ensure the work is available immediately on publication in its final published form, wherever such options exist for their publisher of choice and are compliant with our policy
  • will provide grantholders with additional funding to cover open access charges, where appropriate, in order to meet our requirements
  • encourage – and where it pays an open access fee, require – authors and publishers to licence research papers using the Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC-BY) so they may be freely copied and re-used (for example, for text- and data-mining purposes or creating a translation), provided that such uses are fully attributed (CC-BY is also the preferred licence for monographs and book chapters)
  • affirm the principle that it is the intrinsic merit of the work, and not the title of the journal or the publisher with which an author's work is published, that should be considered in making funding decisions.

Find out more about how authors of research articles, monographs and book chapters are required to comply with our open access policy.

Information for publishers, including service requirements if an open access fee is paid, can be found in the publishers' guide [PDF 1.8MB].