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Open access for the Wellcome Trust and COAF medical charities

Wellcome-funded authors must comply with the Wellcome Trust's open access policy. A new policy applies from 2020. Details about policies, funding and the Charity Open Access Fund (COAF) are here.

Wellcome's new open access policy

The Wellcome Trust's new open access policy will apply to research articles submitted from 1 January 2021. In line with Plan S, and to ensure that articles meet the Wellcome requirement of open access on publication in Europe PubMed Central, authors will be permitted to publish in:

  • fully open access journals that charge a mandatory fee to publish (e.g. PLOS, BioMed Central and Frontiers journals, BMJ Open, Nature Communications, Scientific Reports): Wellcome will pay reasonable charges
  • subscription journals that allow immediate open access to the final accepted manuscript in Europe PubMed Central, and 
  • journals that are part of transformative arrangements (where subscription publishers are transitioning to open access). UCL's current publisher deals are here.

‘Hybrid’ Gold open access (where a one-off payment unlocks otherwise paywalled content) will not be funded other than as part of transformative agreements. Wellcome will not fund page or colour charges. 

CC BY is the default licence required for all research papers. However, in exceptional cases authors can ask Wellcome to agree to a CC BY-ND licence. 

Wellcome will continue to require monographs and book chapters to be made available through Europe PubMed Central within 6 months of publication.


Wellcome's current policy and funding

Until at least September 2019, UCL's Wellcome Trust open access grant can pay for research papers funded by a UCL Wellcome Trust grant in fully open access journals that charge a mandatory fee to publish, and ‘hybrid’ Gold open access in traditional subscription journals (where a one-off payment unlocks otherwise paywalled content), provided the journal's Gold option complies with the Wellcome policy. Uncommissioned reviews and study protocols can be funded on request.

For more information, or to request funding for Gold open access, complete this form and the Open Access Team will reply with a summary of your options and, if your paper is eligible for funding, details of payment procedures.

The Wellcome Trust's current open access policy requires Wellcome-funded research articles submitted until 31 December 2019, as well as monographs and book chapters, to be made open access in Europe PubMedCentral as soon as possible, and within 6 months of final publication.

Before submitting, check that your journal offers a compliant Gold or Green open access option.

  • A journal's Gold option complies if: (1) the article is licensed under CC BY, and (2) the publisher deposits the final version in Europe PubMed Central on publication
  • A journal's Green option complies if it allows the author to make the final accepted manuscript open access in Europe PubMed Central (using Europe PMC Plus) within 6 months of final publication (you must also upload to RPS within 3 months of first online publication, to meet the requirements of the REF open access policy). Some publishers (e.g. Nature) will deposit manuscripts in Europe PubMed Central for you: notify them of the paper's funding on submission. 

Scholarly monographs and book chapters can comply with the Wellcome's policy through deposit in Europe PubMed Central within 6 months of publication. Where a charge applies, Wellcome makes payment directly: CC BY is the Wellcome's preferred licence, but CC BY-NC and CC BY-NC-ND are permitted. The Wellcome guide to complying explains how to deposit in EPMC and arrange payment.


Charity Open Access Fund (COAF)

Bloodwise, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Parkinson’s UK and Versus Arthritis belong to the Charity Open Access Fund (COAF). Their open access policies are very similar to the current Wellcome policy. 

UCL's 2018/19 COAF grant is fully expended. Authors of papers in subscription journals should upload their final accepted manuscript to Europe PubMed Central within 6 months of final publication (and to RPS within 3 months of first online publication, to meet the requirements of the REF open access policy). Papers with a UCL corresponding author, regardless of funder, can still be published open access under UCL’s transformative subscription deals with Springer, Royal Society of Chemistry and Institute of Physics. Authors submitting to fully open access journals (e.g. PLOS, BioMed Central and Frontiers journals) should ensure the availability of alternative funds. 

Versus Arthritis may be able to pay for open access directly.

In addition to Wellcome funding, some open access funds are available for papers funded by UCL UK Research Council (UKRI) grants

Policy links

For other medical funders, see our other funders page.