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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 2021. 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 publisher agreements (where subscription publishers are transitioning to open access). To enable Wellcome-funded papers to be published open access under these agreements, Wellcome encourages its authors, where appropriate, to act as corresponding author (or co-corresponding author) on a paper.

‘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 2020, 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 may be funded on request. 

To enable Wellcome-funded papers to be published open access under transformative publisher agreements, Wellcome encourages its authors, where appropriate, to act as corresponding author (or co-corresponding author) on a paper.

For more information, or to request funding for Gold open access, complete this form on submission (for fully open access journals) or on acceptance (for subscription journals) 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 2020, 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 SHERPA/FACT and your journal's webpages, or contact the Open Access Team, to ensure 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 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.

Publication charges (for instance page and colour charges) may not be included in Wellcome research grant applications submitted from March 2019.


Charity Open Access Fund (COAF)

Blood Cancer UK, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Parkinson’s UK and Versus Arthritis belong to the Charity Open Access Fund (COAF). These funders require research papers they fund to be made open access in Europe PubMed Central within six months of publication, with a preference for immediate (Gold) open access. 

UCL's COAF grant can pay open access charges for research papers accepted on or before 30 April 2020 that were funded by a UCL grant from these funders 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 article will be licensed under CC BY, and the publisher will deposit it in PubMed Central on publication. 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.

April 2020 update

UCL's COAF grant will be fully expended after April 2020. Papers accepted after 30 April 2020, that are not eligible for funding from UCL's Wellcome or UK Research Council (UKRI) open access funds or under UCL's transformative publisher agreements, will not be entitled to central open access funding. 

Authors publishing in fully open access journals (e.g. PLOS, BioMed Central and Frontiers journals, BMJ Open, Nature Communications and Scientific Reports) will need to ensure the availability of alternative funds before submitting. Authors publishing in subscription ('hybrid') journals, other than under UCL's transformative publisher agreements, should upload their manuscript to Europe PubMed Central and RPS. To enable papers to be published open access under UCL's transformative agreements with Wiley, Springer, Royal Society of Chemistry, Institute of Physics and a number of smaller publishers, authors with funding from one of the COAF medical charities are encouraged, where appropriate, to act as corresponding author on a paper.

British Heart Foundation and Versus Arthritis may be able to reimburse authors for papers accepted after April 2020; Blood Cancer UKCancer Research UK and Parkinson's UK may allow you to use unspent grant funds. Please contact your funder directly with any questions about particular papers. BHF will ask you to pay directly and claim reimbursement: this can be done from department funds, but not from central open access funds. 

The Open Access Team anticipates changes in funding arrangements as funders confirm their approach to Plan S.

Policy links

For other medical funders, see our other funders page.