These pages provide guidance for researchers regarding the Wellcome Trust's open access policy, the advantages of the policy and how to comply.
General - what is open access, what is Europe PMC?
The Wellcome Trust's open access policy
Making articles open access
Meeting the costs of open access
Further information and help
An open access publication is one that is free for everyone to view and to use for any reasonable purpose, subject to attribution of authorship. A complete version of the work is deposited in a standard electronic format with licence information in a suitable online, open access repository immediately upon publication.
A full recognised definition, the Bethesda Statement, was agreed by delegates at a meeting on open access publishing convened by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in July 2003.
PubMed Central (PMC) is an archive of biomedical and life science literature operated by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a division of the US National Library of Medicine (NLM). Access to PMC is free and unrestricted via the internet.
The Wellcome Trust - in association with a number of other European biomedical funders (the Europe PMC Funders' Group) - has established a European biomedical and life science repository: Europe PMC.
Europe PMC is a stable, permanent and free-to-access digital archive which contains PMC full text articles, all PubMed abstracts, and more.
Europe PMC enhances the visibility of research findings as Europe PMC content is freely available and can be accessed by all researchers, and not just those based at an institution that subscribes to a particular journal.
Europe PMC provides innovative tools and services for the research community: a single search finds PubMed abstracts, including the bibliographic details of books held in PMC Bookshelf, PMC full text articles and other relevant content, such as clinical guidelines and biological patent records. Articles have been integrated with relevant data using text-mining tools, which highlight and link biological entity types found within the text of an article to external data sources. Europe PMC website
Europe PMC also assists in the assessment of research outcomes. Europe PMC currently holds the details of over 20,000 Principal Investigators and 54,000 grants, funded by the Europe PMC Funders' Group. Using the Europe PMC Grant Reporting Service, the Europe PMC funding organisations can determine research outcomes by linking research grants to publications.
The Wellcome Trust’s open access policy requires electronic copies of all original research papers, monographs and book chapters that have been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, and are supported in whole or in part by Trust funding , to be made freely available from PubMed Central (PMC) (research articles) or PMC Bookshelf (monographs and book chapters) and Europe PMC, as soon as possible, and in any event within six months of the journal publisher’s official date of final publication.
The Trust will provide grantholders with additional funding to cover the open access charges levied by publishers who provide a Wellcome-compliant paid open access option. See our open access funding page for more information
Research papers where the Trust pays an open access fee, we require authors and publishers to licence research papers using the Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC-BY). CC-BY is also the preferred licence for monographs and book chapters.
Authors will benefit in two ways:
First, their research publications will be given much wider dissemination and will be able to be read without restriction by anyone with internet access, resulting in a significant increase in readership. See for example, this review of the literature on this topic in JMLA.
Second, as readers they will increasingly be able to search the full text of all the research published in their area, not just the research available to them via the subscriptions their institution offers.
(a) The policy applies to all original, peer-reviewed, research publications that have been supported, in whole or in part, by the Wellcome Trust. The policy does not apply to editorials, letters, conference proceedings or review articles. Should a Trust-funded author wish to make a non-commissioned review article open access, the Trust is willing to meet the cost of the Article Processing Charge (APC) where the publisher provides a Wellcome-compliant paid open access option (see FAQ 12)
(b) From 1 October 2013 the Trust’s open access policy was extended to include scholarly monographs and book chapters authored and co-authored by Wellcome grantholders that arise as part of their grant-funded research. See FAQ 8 for more information.
(c) The policy does not apply to PhD theses authored by Trust-funded students, however we expect such works to be made freely available from the EThOS repository as soon as possible.
The Wellcome Trust is committed to ensuring that the published outputs of our funded research are made freely available, so that this knowledge can be built on by the widest possible audience, in a manner that maximises health and public benefit, and fosters a richer research culture.
We recognise that key research findings are published as scholarly monographs or book chapters, and believe that the visibility and impact of these research outputs should be maximised.
For this reason, we extended our open access policy to include monographs and book chapters, specifically:
(a) The policy change applies to all original scholarly monographs and book chapters authored or co-authored by Trust 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 Trust grantholders.
(b) In line with the existing open access policy, grantholders are required to make these research outputs available through PMC Bookshelf and Europe PMC as soon as possible, with a maximum embargo of six months.
(c) The Wellcome Trust will make funds available for the payment of publisher’s open access monograph processing charges. See FAQ 16 below.
(d) Where a publishing fee is levied, such works must be available without embargo, and be licensed in ways which support their reuse. Although the Creative Commons, Attribution licence (CC-BY) is strongly preferred, we will accept non-commercial and/or no-derivatives licences (i.e. CC-BY-NC, or CC-BY-NC-ND).
The author or publisher of research funded by the Wellcome Trust should deposit the monograph or book chapter for inclusion in PMC Bookshelf and Europe PMC using the monograph and book chapter deposit form.
Note that the Wellcome Trust considers all publications indexed by MEDLINE to be journals. 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, the Wellcome Trust considers them to be journals. Accordingly, articles published within such a series should be deposited in PubMed Central and licensed under the Creative Commons, Attribution licence (CC-BY)
The extended policy came into effect for all grantholders in October 2014 and now applies to all grantholders, past and present.
The policy applies to all research papers, monographs and book chapters:
(a). reporting research that has itself been funded in whole or in part through a Wellcome Trust grant (either during the award, or after the funding period has ended); and
(b). on which a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award holder, Wellcome Trust Fellow or any other individual in receipt of salary support from the Wellcome Trust appears as a co-author during the period of their Award (this applies even where the specific research project is not Trust funded)
For research undertaken at Wellcome Trust Centres and Major Overseas Programmes (MOPS), the policy applies to research conducted at the Centre or MOP (and which has therefore been supported through the Core Award) even if that research has been primarily supported by grants from one or more other funders. Please refer to the guidance for Wellcome Trust Centres and MOPs [PDF 177KB].
Trust-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. Such papers would however only fall under the Trust’s policy where the Trust-funded researcher appears as a co-author.
Please note research papers, monographs and book chapters arising from the Medical Humanities Small Grants scheme are not required to comply with the policy. The Trust will, however, consider requests to make such outputs open access on a case-by-case basis. Please email open access for advice.
The Trust actively monitors the papers authored by our funded researchers to ensure that they comply with our policy, including through the review of publications listed in on-going grant reporting and in End of Grant Reports.
In addition, Wellcome-funded research papers detailed in applications submitted to the Trust are reviewed to ensure compliance.
Where Trust-funded researchers have not complied with our open access policy, three sanctions will apply:
- Where non-compliant papers are identified in an End of Grant Report, the Trust will withhold the final 10 per cent of the 'total transferable funds' budget on the grant until all papers comply. See 10 per cent retention policy.
- Applicants will be required to ensure that Trust-funded papers resulting from current or previous grants are compliant before formal notification of any funding renewals or new grants can be issued.
- Researchers will not be permitted to include any non-compliant Wellcome-funded publications in any application submitted to the Trust; such papers will be removed from the application and therefore discounted from consideration of a researcher's track record.
These sanctions apply to all original Trust-funded research papers published from 1 October 2009 onwards. From 1 October 2014, these sanctions will also apply to authors of scholarly monographs and book chapters funded by the Wellcome Trust.
Authors of monographs and book chapters can find out how to comply with the Trust’s open access policy in the monograph and book chapter FAQ.
In brief, authors of research articles should take the following steps:
Step 1: Check that the Wellcome Trust policy applies to the type of paper they plan to publish.
Step 2: Check that their journal of choice has a publishing policy compliant with the Wellcome Trust grant conditions.
Wellcome Trust-funded authors can use the SHERPA Funders’ & Authors’ Compliance Tool (SHERPA FACT) to check this.
Step 3: The next action is dependent on what type of Wellcome Trust compliant open access option the journal offers:
If the journal asks authors to pay an article processing fee for publishing their article, they will deposit the article in PMC and Europe PMC on the author’s behalf immediately upon publication and the Wellcome Trust will meet associated costs. In addition, where Trust funds are used to meet the cost of the APC the article must be licenced using the Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC-BY). Please refer to the CC-BY FAQ.
If the journal does not offer a paid open access option an author can still comply with the policy by depositing a copy of the final, peer reviewed manuscript in Europe PMC. Wellcome Trust authors can use the author manuscript submission system - Europe PMC plus to self-archive their papers.
Some publishers, such as Nature Publishing Group, will archive an author manuscript on the author's behalf. Authors usually have to opt-in to this service, but will not have to pay a fee.
Step 4: Ensure that Wellcome Trust funding, including the grant reference number, is acknowledged on all papers.
13. What should authors do if the journal does not have an open-access option, nor does it allow them to self-archive their manuscript for inclusion in PMC/Europe PMC?
Authors are unlikely to be able to comply with the Grant Conditions if the journal does not have an open access option or does not allow self-archiving in PMC/Europe PMC within six months of publication.
If this is the case, authors have three options:
(i) Grant a licence of their copyright to a journal instead of assigning copyright.
Such a licence would have to deal with the rights granted to the journal in such a way as to allow the journal to publish but still allow the author to make their research available through PMC/Europe PMC. In this way, authors should be able to retain ownership of their copyright and still allow publication in a journal. This could be achieved, for example, through using the JISC SURF Licence to Publish, which was developed in consultation with the Wellcome Trust.
(ii) Agree to a journal's normal arrangements only on the condition that it be specifically agreed that deposition in PMC/Europe PMC can take place.
Copyright agreements can take many forms, but the following is an example of the sort of wording that could be included in an agreement with a journal that would still allow an author to comply with the Wellcome Trust Grant Conditions:
Notwithstanding any of the other provisions of this agreement, the journal acknowledges that the researcher will be entitled to deposit an electronic copy of the final, peer-reviewed manuscript for inclusion in PubMed Central (PMC), and for this manuscript to be mirrored to all PMC international sites, such as Europe PMC. Manuscripts deposited with PMC (and Europe PMC) may be made freely available to the public, via the internet, within six months of the official date of final publication in the journal.
(iii) Reconsider where to publish.
This is anticipated to be an exceptional circumstance, as research undertaken by the Trust shows that over 95 per cent of journals in which Wellcome Trust-funded authors publish offer open access options.
14. In cases where an author is self-archiving their paper for inclusion in PMC/Europe PMC, when should they do this, which version should they deposit and how do they do it?
An electronic version of the author's final manuscript resulting from research supported, in whole or in part, by Wellcome Trust funding must be deposited upon acceptance for publication. If necessary, an embargo of up to six months after publication can be set.
The version of the paper that should be archived is the final version that is accepted for journal publication and includes all modifications from the publishing peer-review process. When self-archiving, the publisher's PDF version should not be deposited.
Manuscript files may be submitted to Europe PMC - via Europe PMC plus - by the author or anyone given access to the author's files (administrative personnel, graduate students, librarians, etc.).
In cases where a paper has been written by someone other than the principal investigator (PI) (typically named as the grantholder), submission to Europe PMC plus should be made using a user-created login. (A login account can be created at the Europe PMC plus website.) In cases where the PI is the author, submissions should be made using the Europe PMC plus login account, automatically supplied to the PI. If you are a PI and have not received or have mislaid this login, please contact the British Library helpdesk on 01937 546699 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Irrespective of who submits the paper, approval of the PDF receipt and web version of the manuscript requires review and authorisation. This authorisation is usually given by the PI - but the PI can also nominate another to do this on his/her behalf.
For example, in cases where research has been undertaken by staff other than the PI (e.g. research assistants etc.), it might be more practical to grant approving rights to the actual author of the paper - not the named PI.
In any case, submitted papers are not processed until approval is given. Once approved, the citation in PubMed - and the full text in PubMed Central/Europe PMC - will cite the authors as listed in the manuscript, irrespective of whether or not this includes the PI as a named author. Manuscript submission user guides
16. Will depositing a research article in the Europe PMC repository meet the Higher Education Funding Councils’ (HEFC open access policy requirements?
Yes it will.
For Wellcome-funded researchers who publish in a Wellcome-compliant fully open access, or a hybrid journal (in which they have selected the author pays option), the final, version of record, paper will be automatically deposited into PMC/Europe PMC by the publisher on publication. [Note: if final publication of the paper (and so deposit of the article in PMC/Europe PMC) does not occur within three months of acceptance, to meet HEFC requirements the author will need to deposit their accepted manuscript elsewhere, typically in an institutional repository].
Where no paid open access option is available, and researchers are required to self-archive the accepted manuscript in Europe PMC to meet both Wellcome’s and HEFC OA requirements, the manuscript should be deposited at the point of acceptance, with a maximum six month embargo.
The full details of the HEFC open access policy can be found here.
The Wellcome Trust is part of the Charity Open Access Fund which has made awards to 36 UK institutions, which can be used to pay the open access publishing costs for research papers. For more information, and to find out how the open access publishing costs for monographs and book chapters can be met, see the open access funding page.
Please note that open access funding, cannot be used to cover the cost of page and colour plate charges. For Information on how these costs can be met see ‘ Allowed and Disallowed costs’.
18. Will the Wellcome Trust pay the open access fee for a research paper which has been supported in part by Wellcome and in part by another funding agency?
Where a paper has arisen from research supported by one or more funding agency which mandates open access (and provides funding for this purpose) the costs of making that paper open access should be split proportionally between the different funders of the research in line with their relative funding contributions, as agreed by the authors on the paper. Universities should have a mechanism whereby the proportional costs can be charged to the appropriate funder. See individual institutional open access guides for further information.
In cases where the other research funders do not mandate open access, or where the Trust has been the lead funder on a piece of research, we are willing to meet the full cost of the open access fee.
19. Can Wellcome Trust open access funds be used to contribute towards pre-payment schemes offered by publishers?
In principle, institutions may enter into pre-payment schemes and use Wellcome Trust funds to reimburse the costs of APCs paid through such schemes. However, this is on the strict condition that:
- Institutions must always ensure that Trust-funded authors are able to publish in their journal of choice, providing that journal is compliant with the Trust’s open access policy. For this reason, institutions should carefully consider and manage the level of APCs required, based on previous usage. To be clear, it would be unacceptable if an institution sought to limit any Trust-funded researcher’s choice of where to publish their work on the basis that they have unspent credits with a particular publisher.
- Institutions must never enter into any deal that would compromise their ability to report transparently on the actual cost of the APC incurred for each Trust-funded research paper.
- Only actual, incurred APCs can be claimed back from the Trust (note that our grants are paid quarterly in arrears). Funds held in a pre-payment account, but not yet used to meet the cost of an APC for a Trust-funded research paper, cannot be regarded as expenditure incurred against the grant.
We recognise this is an emerging and fast moving area, and will keep this policy under review.
If you have any queries about this policy, or how to comply, please email email@example.com.
For guidance on how to claim open access costs at your institution, where funding has been provided, please follow the link on the open access funding page.
For links to other Europe PMC Funders' policies and FAQs, see the Europe PMC website.