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-to-view for all users to use for any reasonable purpose, subject to possible attribution of authorship. Specifically, a complete version of the work and associated permissions is deposited in a standard electronic format in a suitable online, open access repository immediately on 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 journal 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 version of PMC: Europe PMC.
Europe PMC is a stable, permanent and free-to-access digital archive of the full text, peer-reviewed research publications (and datasets) that arise from research funded by the Wellcome Trust and other members of the Europe PMC Funders’ Group. Further details
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 to PubMed citations, PMC full text articles and other relevant content, such as clinical guidelines and European biomedical theses, and the integration of 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 17 000 Principal Investigators and 35 000 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.
We have a position statement on open access, which includes the specific obligations of institutions, grantholders and all others supported by grants. Specifically, we:
Expect authors of research papers to maximise the opportunities to make their results freely available and, where possible, to retain their copyright.
Will provide grantholders with additional funding to cover the open access charges levied by publishers who support the open access model.
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 freely available from PubMed Central and any other PMC International (PMCI) sites, such as Europe PMC, as soon as possible, and in any event within six months of the journal publisher's official date of final publication.
For papers submitted for publication from April 1 2013 the Trust encourages - and where it pays an open access fee, requires - 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. Please refer to the CC-BY FAQ for more information.
This policy was introduced in October 2006 and applies to all peer-reviewed, original (primary) research publications that have been supported, in whole or in part, by the Wellcome Trust.
Authors will benefit in two ways:
Firstly, their research papers will be given much wider dissemination and will be able to be read without restriction by anyone with internet access.And, though the evidence is incomplete, what is available is starting to show that open access articles are cited more often than non-open access articles from the same journal and year. See, for example, the editorials published in ‘BMJ’ and ‘Nature’ and papers in ‘PLoS Biology’ and ‘Science’.
Secondly, 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.
The policy applies to peer-reviewed, original (primary) research publications that have been supported, in whole or in part, by the Wellcome Trust.
The policy does not apply to book chapters, editorials, reviews or conference proceedings.
The policy applies to:
(a) all papers reporting research that has itself been funded in whole or in part through a Wellcome Trust grant (whether during the award, or after the funding period has ended); and
(b) all papers 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, the policy applies to research conducted at the Centre or MOP (and which has hence 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.
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.
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 ongoing 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 activated.
- Researchers will not be permitted to include any non-compliant Wellcome-funded publications in any application submitted to the Trust, and such papers will be 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.
The following steps should be taken by authors to ensure that their published research papers comply with the Trust's open access policy.This guidance is also available in Open access: an essential guide for Wellcome Trust-funded authors [PDF 208KB].
Step 1: Check that the Wellcome Trust policy applies to the type of paper you plan to publish.
The policy applies to publications which are peer-reviewed (primary) research publications that have been supported, in whole or in part, by a Wellcome Trust grant. Not book chapters, editorials, reviews or conference proceedings.
Step 2: Check that your 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.
If your chosen journal is not listed in this database you should speak directly to the journal's editorial staff to determine their policy, or contact the Wellcome Trust at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Step 3: The next action is dependent on what type of Wellcome Trust compliant open access option the journal offers:
Open access journal (Wellcome-compliant)
Publishers who provide this option include open access publishers (such as BioMed Central and the Public Library of Science) who deposit the final published version of the paper to PMC and make it freely available on the day of publication.
An article processing fee is charged for publishing in these journals and the Wellcome Trust will meet these costs.
Paid open access option (Wellcome-compliant)
A number of traditional publishers have introduced a paid open access option whereby individual articles can be made open access. The author pays a fee to make their article accessible for free online, immediately it is published in the journal.A copy of the article will be deposited in PMC and Europe PMC with immediate access.
A fee is charged for making articles open access in this way and the Wellcome Trust will meet these costs.
Author archives author manuscript
If the journal does not offer an open access option an author can still comply with the policy by depositing a copy of the final, peer reviewed manuscript in Europe PMC. When the author manuscript is deposited it must be made freely available as soon as possible, and in any event not later than six months after the journal publisher's official date of final publication.
An author manuscript submission system - Europe PMC plus - is available on the Europe PMC website for Wellcome Trust authors to self-archive papers.
Examples of publishers who support this model include the American Medical Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
No fee is charged for making articles open access in this way.
Publisher archives author manuscript
Some publishers will archive an author manuscript on the author's behalf.Authors usually have to opt-in to this service.
Examples of publishers who support this model include Nature Publishing Group.
No fee is charged for making articles open access in this way.
Step 4: Ensure that Wellcome Trust funding is acknowledged on all papers.
Authors should include in the manuscript the unique grant reference number - e.g. 012345 - in the relevant funding or acknowledgement section in any published work. This enables the Trust to link the published outputs of research to the funding provided. Further guidance for authors
12. If a publisher offers a Wellcome Trust-compliant paid open-access option am I obligated to select this?
If the publisher offers a Wellcome Trust-compliant paid open access option, the Trust advises authors to select this rather than archiving the author manuscript.
If a publisher only offers a paid open access option - e.g. Elsevier - Wellcome Trust-funded authors must select this option to comply with the Trust's policy, as archived author manuscripts from such publishers will be subject to take-down notices.
13. What should I do if the journal does not have an open-access option, nor does it allow me to self-archive my 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 I am self-archiving the paper for inclusion in PMC/Europe PMC, when should I do this, which version should I deposit and how do I 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 submitted upon acceptance for publication.
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 site.) 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: email@example.com.
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
Awards have been made to a number of UK institutions to meet open access publishing costs for research papers arising from Wellcome Trust-funded research.
Please note that the additional open access funding cannot be used to cover additional page and colour plate charges. Wellcome Trust-funded authors can, however, use the Flexible Funding Allowance (where provided) to cover these costs.
17. 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 funded by more than one member of the
Europe PMC Funders’ Group, 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.Contact your research grants office for further information.
In cases where the other research funders do not mandate open access, or where the Trust has been clear lead funder on a piece of research, then we are willing to meet the full cost of the open access fee.
18. 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 Article Processing Charges (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 and its implementation please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For local guidance specific to your institution, please follow the link on the open access funding page.
For links to other Europe PMC Funders' policies and FAQs, see the Europe PMC site.