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Cancer Research UK open access policy and funding

Research articles funded in whole or in part by Cancer Research UK must meet CRUK's open access requirements. Find out how to check whether your chosen journal complies, and what funding is available.

Scope and requirements

The new Cancer Research UK (CRUK) open access policy came into effect on 1 January 2022. Articles accepted on or after this date must be openly available in Europe PubMed Central immediately upon publication. Contact the Open Access Team for advice on papers accepted for publication before 1 January 2022.

The CRUK policy applies to primary research articles in peer-reviewed journals which acknowledge funding from Cancer Research UK; and articles on which at least one author is in receipt of a Cancer Research UK grant, provided the paper is directly related to cancer research. The policy does not apply to book chapters, monographs, editorials, reviews or conference proceedings.

Research papers funded by CRUK and Wellcome/UKRI should follow CRUK's policy.

Key differences to Plan S funders (e.g. Wellcome, UKRI)

Although this is an immediate open access policy, it differs from other Plan S policies (e.g. Wellcome, UKRI) in that: 

  • CRUK will continue to provide funding for open access costs in most subscription journals with a Gold open access option (known as hybrid journals). These journals comply with CRUK's policy even where they are not in UCL's transformative agreements.
  • There is also no licence requirement for papers that comply through Green open access (depositing the manuscript in Europe PubMed Central). 

For more information see Cancer Research UK's Statement on Plan S.

Complying with the policy

Use Sherpa Fact to check whether your chosen journal offers a compliant Green or Gold option. For additional clarification, check the journal website. If you are unsure whether your journal complies, contact UCL's Open Access Team before submission.

Green open access

If you are publishing in a subscription journal, you can comply by uploading your paper using Europe PMC plus, providing the journal does not require an embargo on making your accepted manuscript (or final published version, if permitted) available in Europe PMC. Journal embargoes on Green open access are not permitted in the CRUK policy. Papers should also be uploaded to RPS

Gold open access

If you are publishing in a subscription journal with a Gold open access option (known as a hybrid journal), or you are publishing in a fully open access journal, Gold open access will comply provided that the paper is published with the CC BY licence and the publisher will deposit the article in Europe PMC on publication. At UCL, funds for Gold open access are only available if it is not possible to comply through Green open access (see below).

A small minority of journals do not have a compliant Gold open access option, and do not permit deposit in Europe PMC (Blood, for example). In this case, CRUK advises authors to either specifiy an additional agreement permitting deposit of their manuscript in Europe PMC, or to reconsider where to publish.

Is my paper eligible for funding?

If your chosen journal is included in UCL's transformative agreements, and your paper has a UCL corresponding author, your Gold open access costs can be covered by the agreement. Follow the instructions on our transformative agreements page to publish Gold open access.

If your chosen journal is not included in UCL's transformative agreements, UCL's CRUK open access grant will cover your open access charges once your paper is accepted if:

  1. your publication is a research article, and
  2. it is funded by a UCL-held CRUK grant

and the journal is:

  • fully open access and charges a mandatory fee to publish, OR
  • a subscription journal that offers Gold open access (known as a hybrid journal), and the journal does not allow the acceped manuscript or final published version to be made available (Green open access) in Europe PMC immediately on publication.

Use Sherpa Fact to check your journal's embargo period. For additional clarification, check the journal website. If you need any advice about a journal's embargo period, contact UCL's Open Access Team.

Conditions of publication/payment

You must acknowledge CRUK in your paper, in the format ‘This work was supported by Cancer Research UK [C ref./A ref.]’ and, for trial results, the CRUK trial number.

Some journals offer a choice of open access licences. If UCL's Open Access Team confirms that your paper can be funded, you must choose the CC BY licence.

CRUK's other publication requirements are set out in their FAQs.