Library and Learning Services

Wellcome Trust open access policy

The Wellcome Trust open access policy takes effect from 1 January 2021 and it will adopt and align with the principles of Plan S. The policy applies to articles containing original research submitted for publication from 1 January 2021. The new policy will apply to all Wellcome-funded grant holders and the policy has three overarching principles:

  1. Wellcome-funded research articles will be made freely available through PubMed Central (PMC) and Europe PMC by the official final publication date (no embargoes)
  2. Authors to retain copyright to the research.
  3. Licensed in a way that allows the Wellcome-funded research output to be published under a Creative Commons attribution licence (CC-BY), unless Wellcome have agreed, as an exception, to allow publication under a CC BY-ND licence.

Update 16 January 2024: with immediate effect, the policy allows researchers to use a CC BY licensed preprint as a version of a research article to comply with the policy, where they can't make either the Version of Record or the Accepted Manuscript compliant. If using a preprint to ensure compliance, researchers must post it to a preprint server indexed by Europe PMC before final publication of the paper. Researchers should use the Version of Record or Author Accepted Manuscript to comply with the policy where this is possible (and depending on the publishing options available to them).

How do I comply?

All authors will have to check that their publication venue is compliant with the new open access policy and that it offers a compliant open access pathway.

Rights Retention

Most journals' publishing agreements specify when, and how, the Author's Accepted Manuscript can be made open access. Therefore, to achieve this, you need to retain sufficient rights to apply a CC BY licence to the Author Accepted Manuscript. This is known as rights retention.

By applying a CC BY public copyright licence to journal submissions (or CC BY-ND, if approved by Wellcome), you retain the right to deposit a copy of the Author Accepted Manuscript in Europe PMC and for your work to be shared in this way under this licence.

You need to ensure the following statement is inserted in the acknowledgments section and the covering letter of any submission to a subscription or hybrid journal:

'This research was funded in whole, or in part by the Wellcome Trust [Grant number xxxxx]. For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission.'

When using this route to compliance, no article processing charges (APC) should be payable to the publisher. Wellcome open access funds cannot be used to pay article processing charges in subscription or hybrid journals.

The journal checker tool

Wellcome and other Plan S funders have launched the journal checker tool, where authors can easily identify journals or platforms that will enable compliance. The tool is based on information from research funders, institutions and transformative agreements. It tells you if the journal is a compliant and how: e.g. it has a transformative agreement in place, or it is eligible for block grant funding, or it allows Rights Retention.

Compliant journals

Many journals are already compliant, and these currently include:

  • Fully OA journals: PLoS journals, BioMedCentral journals, BMJ Open, eLife, Wellcome Open Research and all journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
  • Subscription journals which allow the authors accepted manuscript to be freely available in EuropePMC at the time of publication with a CC-BY license, for example, the Royal Society.
  • Hybrid journals in a transformative agreement that is committed to transition to fully OA within a certain timeframe. For a full, up-to-date list of publishers the University of Leicester has agreements with please visit our publishing deals and discounts page.

Will Wellcome pay Article Processing Charges (APCs) under this open access policy?

Yes, however, from January 2021 Wellcome will no longer pay for OA publication in subscription journals (hybrid OA) unless that journal is part of a transformative publisher arrangement that is committed to the transition to fully OA - the full list of Transformative journals . Through the OA block grant awarded to the University, Wellcome will cover Article Processing Charges (APCs) for fully OA journals, Transformative journals approved by Plan S, plus hybrid journals in a transformative deal (often called 'Read and Publish') for a 3-year transition period until Dec 2024.

From the 1st January 2025 the Wellcome Trust will only fund publication costs in fully open access journals.

The existing system of the open access annual block grant to the university will continue, for further information visit our paying for open access page.

Will Wellcome pay for other publication charges, such as colour or page charges?

No. Wellcome will not cover the costs of any non-open access publication costs.

Non-compliance and sanctions

Researchers who do not comply will be subject to appropriate sanctions and an audit of end-of-grant reports and/or Researchfish submissions will take place. If articles have not been made open access, Wellcome will not accept new grant applications from the researcher if they are applying as the lead applicant.

Wellcome expect the University to help with the policy implementation. If a number of researchers from Leicester fail to comply with the policy, Wellcome will work with the institution to gain an understanding and resolve non-compliance issues. Wellcome state that they have the right to suspend grant payments to any organisation that is in receipt of their funding.

Back to top