COAF information for researchers

The Charity Open Access Fund (COAF) was set up to enable publications resulting from the research we support to be made immediately and freely available to other researchers to access and re-use.

Find out more about how COAF works and read answers to frequent questions.

When researchers can access open access funding

Annual award letters are sent to the 36 UK universities and research institutes. These organisations are required to use the fund on a first-come, first-served basis for eligible publications supported by any of the partner charities.

Article processing charges (APCs) for research papers acknowledging at least one of the partner charities as a funder can be charged to COAF.

What COAF covers

The COAF may be used to cover APCs for:

  • original peer-reviewed research articles
  • non-commissioned review articles
  • not-invited review articles
  • study protocols.

What COAF doesn't cover

  • Any open access costs associated with commissioned or invited reviews, conference proceedings, editorials, letters or commentaries
  • Other charges associated with publication, such as page and colour charges.

Where these costs apply, researchers must use other funds to meet these costs.

Requirements journals must meet to be eligible for COAF funds

Where an APC is paid from COAF, the journal must:

  • Deposit the final version of the article, on behalf of the author, in PubMed Central (PMC). The article should include all the changes from the peer-review, copy editing and proofing processes. It must be made freely available on PMC at the time of publication - a link to the article on the publisher site is not sufficient.
  • License the content under a Creative Commons Attribution-only (CC-BY) licence.

Content deposited in PMC is automatically mirrored to the Europe PMC repository.

From 1 April 2017, the fund can only be used for APCs where the publisher has agreed to our publisher requirements.

What to do when a journal does not meet these requirements

If the journal allows it, you can comply with the open access policies of the partner funders by self-archiving a final author manuscript version of your paper in Europe PMC. It must be freely available within six months of the publication date.

If you self-archive, no APC is charged and no call will be made on COAF.

You can use the SHERPA/FACT database to check whether your journal offers a compliant publication route, and which route to opt for.

The majority of journals in which researchers supported by the partner charities publish their research offer a compliant open access publishing option.

If you’re based at one of the 36 universities and research institutes that receive a COAF block award, please contact the organisation directly.

If you’re unsure who to contact at your institution, please email

More information about how to get open access funding.

What to do if you're based at an institution that doesn't receive a COAF block award

Researchers who are supported by one of the partner charities but not based at one of the 36 organisations that receive COAF funds should refer to their funder’s policy and guidance to find out how to comply with its open access requirements.

What to do when a research paper is supported by multiple funding sources

You can access COAF funds to meet open access costs for any paper resulting from research supported in whole or in part by one or more of the partner funders.

If other research funders have supported the work reported in the paper, and these funders mandate open access, we expect the open access costs to be split between the contributing funders.

Using COAF to cover the costs of publishing monographs and book chapters in open access form

You can’t use COAF to cover monograph and book chapter open access publishing costs.

Wellcome mandates open access to monographs and book chapters. It has a separate funding mechanism to manage payment of these costs for its funded researchers. Please email for more information.

What to do when there are no funds left in your organisation's annual COAF block grant

Organisations will tell researchers if there are no longer funds available through COAF. If this happens, authors should contact their relevant research funder(s).


Please email if you have any questions about how COAF works.

We’ll forward your query to the relevant partner funder(s) where appropriate.

If your query is specifically related to the open access policy of an individual partner charity, please contact the relevant charity directly: