New Wellcome Trust and UKRI Open Access policies: implications for researchers.

Both the Wellcome Trust and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), as part of a coalition of European national research funders, have announced their intention to move to more robust policies on Open Access publication.

The Wellcome Trust has announced five key changes to their existing policy:

  • All Wellcome-funded research articles must be made freely available through PubMed Central (PMC) and Europe PMC at the time of publication. A six-month embargo period was previously allowed. This change will make sure that the peer-reviewed version is freely available to everyone at the time of publication.
  • All articles must be published under a Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CC-BY). Previously, this was only required when an article processing charge (APC) was paid. This change is intended to make sure that others – including commercial entities and AI/text-data mining services – can reuse Wellcome-funded research to discover new knowledge.
  • Wellcome will no longer cover the cost of Open Access (OA) publishing in subscription journals (‘hybrid OA’).  Wellcome previously supported this model, but no longer believe that it supports a transition to full OA.
  • When there is a significant public health benefit to preprints being shared widely and rapidly, such as a disease outbreak, these preprints must be published on an approved platform that supports immediate publication of the complete manuscript under a CC-BY licence. This is a new requirement which will make sure that important research findings are shared as soon possible and before peer review.
  • Wellcome-funded organisations must sign or publicly commit to the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment  - DORA (or an equivalent) and may ask organisations to show that they’re complying with this as part of our organisation audits. This is a new requirement to encourage institutions to consider the intrinsic merit of the work, not the title of the journal or publisher, when making promotion and tenure decisions.

Wellcome have indicated that the new policy will come into effect for all papers submitted for publication after 1st January 2020.

View the full policy 

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United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI), which includes the seven Research Councils, as well as Innovate UK and Research England, have also announced their intention to strengthen their existing Open Access policy, as part of a coalition of European national research funders, collectively known as cOAlition S. UKRI will finalise the review of their Open Access policy in 2019, but have indicated that it will be based on the 10 principles published by cOAlition S, known as Plan S.

The key principle is stated as:

“After 1 January 2020 scientific publications on the results from research funded by public grants provided by national and European research councils and funding bodies, must be published in compliant Open Access Journals or on compliant Open Access Platforms.”

Further to this, the following 10 principles have been published:

  • Authors retain copyright of their publication with no restrictions. All publications must be published under an open license, preferably the Creative Commons Attribution Licence CC BY. In all cases, the license applied should fulfil the requirements defined by the Berlin Declaration;
  • The Funders will ensure jointly the establishment of robust criteria and requirements for the services that compliant high quality Open Access journals and Open Access platforms must provide;
  • In case such high quality Open Access journals or platforms do not yet exist, the Funders will, in a coordinated way, provide incentives to establish and support them when appropriate; support will also be provided for Open Access infrastructures where necessary;
  • Where applicable, Open Access publication fees are covered by the Funders or universities, not by individual researchers; it is acknowledged that all scientists should be able to publish their work Open Access even if their institutions have limited means;
  • When Open Access publication fees are applied, their funding is standardised and capped (across Europe);
  • The Funders will ask universities, research organisations, and libraries to align their policies and strategies, notably to ensure transparency;
  • The above principles shall apply to all types of scholarly publications, but it is understood that the timeline to achieve Open Access for monographs and books may be longer than 1 January 2020;
  • The importance of open archives and repositories for hosting research outputs is acknowledged because of their long-term archiving function and their potential for editorial innovation;
  • The ‘hybrid’ model of publishing is not compliant with the above principles;
  • The Funders will monitor compliance and will impose sanctions for non-compliance.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also announced that it would update its existing Open Access policy to comply with the Plan S principles over the next 12 months.

The LLC’s Research Services team will continue to monitor developments regarding Open Access in general, and Plan S in particular, over the coming months, and will keep researchers informed of any changes as they occur. We are happy to deliver briefings on Open Access to Schools on request. Please contact us at