Wellcome announced a revised open access policy (PDF) to apply to research articles submitted for publication from 1 January 2021.

The main changes to current policy are:

1. All Wellcome-funded research articles must be made freely available through PubMed Central (PMC) and Europe PMC at the time of publication, with no embargo.

2. All articles must be published under a Creative Commons attribution licence (CC-BY).

3. Wellcome will no longer cover the cost of OA publishing in subscription journals (‘hybrid OA’). Funding will be provided to cover ‘reasonable article processing charges’ for articles published in full OA journals or platforms that are:

  • Indexed in DOAJ, or meet criteria that may be provided by cOAlition S
  • Have an agreement with NIH to deposit the version of record in PMC which can be shared with Europe PMC

Reasonable has yet to be defined, but Wellcome expect to see if there are value-added services, charges may be higher where this is not the case.

4. Where there is a significant public health benefit to preprints being shared widely and rapidly, such as a disease outbreak, these preprints must be published:

  • before peer review
  • 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.

5. Wellcome-funded organisations must sign or publicly commit to the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), or an equivalent. Wellcome may ask organisations to show that they’re complying with this as part of our organisation audits. This is a new requirement to encourage organisations to consider the intrinsic merit of the work when making promotion and tenure decisions, not just the title of the journal or publisher.

6. To enable researchers to meet the new requirements, we would expect that implementation of the UK Scholarly Communications Licence would permit authors to make their accepted manuscript available in Spiral with no embargo, and under the CC BY licence.

There will be sanctions applied to grant applications or institutional funding where there is not policy compliance.

(Information adapted from Wellcome is updating its open access policy)

What researchers need to know

Funded researchers can comply by publishing in either of the three routes below:

Route 1: Gold

Publish in a fully OA journal or platform. Authors should apply for funding via Symplectic as usual.

Route 2: Green

Publish in a subscription journal and take responsibility for making the Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM) freely available from Europe PMC at the time of publication with a CC BY license (see Going green below). 

Route 3: Transformative

Publish in a subscription journal with a Gold open access option (known as hybrid journals) that are included in Imperial’s transformative agreements with publishers*.

*These are listed on our 
Publisher agreements and discounts page, under “Publishers with fully covered APCs” or subscription journals listed here that have transformative journal status (the Library will pay fair and reasonable open access costs as permitted by the Wellcome Trust).

The Journal Checker Tool enables researchers to quickly identify journals or platforms that provide routes to compliance with Wellcome Trust via fully open access journals and platforms, through self-archiving (either via the publishers’ own policy or the Rights Retention Strategy (RRS) or through Transformative Arrangements. If multiple routes to compliance are available, the JCT provides basic instructions on what to do next on the particular route chosen by the researcher. Where no route to compliance is available, the JCT offers suggestions about how to edit the search to find a combination that enables compliance.

Going Green – Creative Commons licences

You must include the following Creative Commons CC BY licence and statement to all journal submissions.

'This research was funded in whole, or in part, by the Wellcome Trust [Grant number]. 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.'

As an exception you may apply a Creative Commons CC BY-ND licence by completing a CC BY-ND exception form. You will need to have your request approved before your paper is submitted for publication. Current examples of the CC BY licence and statement in Wellcome-funded research publications can be viewed via Europe PMC.

Please note that some journals have discouraged researchers from making their Author Accepted Manuscripts (AAM) open access and as a result Wellcome’s guidance for researchers has been updated to help them comply with their open access policy.


Wellcome Trust funded researchers are strongly encouraged to post preprints under a CC BY licence on a platform that is indexed in Europe PMC and where there is a 'significant public health benefit' such as the COVID-19 and Ebola pandemics required to publish preprints.