Wellcome funder: new open access policy

The research funder Wellcome has published details of its new open access (OA) policy which will come into effect on 1 January 2020.


The policy will require all research articles that arise from Wellcome funding to be made freely available at the time of publication. Embargoes will no longer be permitted. They are not changing their policy for monographs and book chapters – but are keeping this under review.



Here’ the five key changes Wellcome have said they are making:


“1. All Wellcome-funded research articles must be made freely available through PubMed Central (PMC) and Europe PMC at the time of publication. We previously allowed a six-month embargo period. This change will make sure that the peer-reviewed version is freely available to everyone at the time of publication.


2. All articles must be published under a Creative Commons attribution licence (CC-BY). We previously only required this licence when an article processing charge (APC) was paid. This change will make sure that others – including commercial entities and AI/text-data mining services – can reuse our funded research to discover new knowledge.


3. We will no longer cover the cost of OA publishing in subscription journals (‘hybrid OA’). We previously supported this model, but no longer believe that it supports a transition to full OA.


4. Where there is a significant public health benefit to preprints being shared widely and rapidly, such as a disease outbreak, these preprints must be published: before peer review on an approved platform that supports immediate publication of the complete manuscript under a CC-BY licence.

This is a new requirement which will make sure that important research findings are shared as soon possible and before peer review.


5. Wellcome-funded organisations must sign or publicly commit to the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment(opens in a new tab)(DORA), or an equivalent. We may ask organisations to show that they’re complying with this as part of our organisation audits. This is a new requirement to encourage organisations to consider the intrinsic merit of the work when making promotion and tenure decisions, not just the title of the journal or publisher….”


One of the reasons for the new policy was in response to grantholders who had told Wellcome that their OA policy should be aligned with those of other funders. Wellcome note they are pleased their updated policy is fully in line with Plan S, the OA policy framework developed by the European Commission and Science Europe. Plan S is endorsed by major funders, including UK Research and Innovation, the European Research Council and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.



Clare Allan

Senior Research Librarian

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