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

Open access policy 

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

Our policy for monographs and book chapters remains unchanged.

Both of these policies apply to publications that include original research that is funded in whole, or in part, by Wellcome.

Journal articles submitted from 1 January 2021 

All original, peer-reviewed research articles that are 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

and

  • 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.

Where there are multiple partners involved, all research articles supported in whole, or in part, by Wellcome must be compliant with this policy.

How to comply

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

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

We updated our grant conditions in January 2021 to include:

  • a new condition that all grantholders – both new and current – 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:

'This research was funded in whole, or in part, by the Wellcome Trust [Grant number]. 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.'

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

  • continue to submit manuscripts to 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)

and

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

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

or

  • consider publishing in another journal.

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.

Preprints

All Wellcome-funded researchers are strongly encouraged to:

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.

We believe that the peer review process adds significant value to research articles. To comply with our OA policy, researchers must make sure that the article, after peer review – either publisher Version of Record or the Author Accepted Manuscript – is made freely available in PMC and Europe PMC at the time of publication, and with a CC BY licence.

Costs we'll provide

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

and

We do not 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.

We also provide funds to support open access fees for monographs and book chapters. See open access funding for more information.

Article Processing Charges (APCs)

We are working with cOAlition S funding partners to agree a consistent approach to define what a ‘reasonable’ APC amount is.  

We recognise that different journals and publishers provide different, or additional value-added services, which means that they can have different APCs (for example, creating infographics).

Publishers for which Plan S requirements apply must publish a full price transparency based on the various services provided (for example triaging and peer review). 

We expect our grantholders to:  

  • be aware of the costs of publishing in different journals 
  • only use journals that they consider represent value for money. 

Monographs and book chapters 

All original scholarly monographs and book chapters authored or co-authored by Wellcome grantholders as part of their grant-funded research, must be:

  • made freely available through NCBI Bookshelf PubMed Central (PMC) and Europe PMC as soon as possible and no later than within 6 months of the official final publication date

and

  • where a fee has been paid to the publisher to make the work open access, be published under a Creative Commons licence. Our preference is for a Creative Commons attribution licence (CC BY), however, researchers may choose to publish their work under any of the Creative Commons licences including non-commercial and non-derivative licences (CC BY-NC or CC BY-NC-ND).

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

How to comply

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

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(opens in a new tab), Leiden Manifesto(opens in a new tab) 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 

Contact us 

Contact us if you have a question about open access.

openaccess@wellcome.org

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