UCL News


New Wellcome Open Access Policy

22 November 2018

Following a six-month review and consultation, the Wellcome Trust has announced a new open access policy that will apply to all Wellcome-funded research articles submitted from 1 January 2020.

New Wellcome Open Access Policy

Wellcome says that the overarching aim of the policy is to “make sure that the knowledge and discoveries which result from our funding are made freely available and used in a way that maximises their benefit to health”. The policy is intended to support a transition to a fully open access world, where no research is behind a paywall. This is the first detailed implementation of Plan S, whose 16 signatories, including the UK Research Councils, intend that from 2020 all publications they fund will be open access. 

Wellcome currently funds “hybrid” open access payments (where a one-off payment makes a single article open access, but the rest of the journal can only be accessed with a subscription). The new policy does not support hybrid publication. Authors will only be able to publish in subscription journals if the publisher allows them to make their accepted manuscripts freely available in PubMed Central under a CC BY licence. Some publishers (eg. Royal Society) already allow this. Others are expected to introduce options that comply with the Wellcome policy over the coming year. There will be limited exceptions where publishers have offered institutions a transformative deal that will lead to full open access.  The Wellcome will provide authors and institutions with information on how to check if specific journals are compliant with the policy. UCL’s Open Access Team will assist authors with this.

Wellcome will continue to provide funding to pay the costs of publication in fully open access journals (eg. eLife; PLOS, BMC and Hindawi journals), and authors can also publish on Wellcome’s open access platform, Wellcome Open Research. However, Wellcome-funded authors are expected to be aware of the costs of publishing in fully open access journals, and only submit to journals that they consider represent value for money. They will also need to avoid submitting to journals that charge mandatory publication charges, which (along with colour and other publication charges) will no longer be payable from Wellcome grants.

UCL’s Open Access Team will be getting in touch with Wellcome grantholders next year to explain the changes in more detail. In the meantime, you can contact open-access@ucl.ac.uk for more information, or to discuss the policy.