COAF information for research organisations

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 what requirements organisations who are managing COAF must meet.

What COAF covers

The fund may be used to cover article processing charges (APCs) for:

  • Peer-reviewed original research articles, as required by our open access policy. The research reported must be funded by one or more of the participating charities.
  • Unsolicited review articles, where the author wants to make the review open access. The review article must acknowledge one of the participating charities as a funder. The publisher must provide a compliant open access option.

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

The fund should be used to meet the costs associated with making a paper open access at the time of publication. Authors who want to make articles open access retrospectively (12 months or more after publication) should self-archive the accepted manuscript in Europe PMC. Email if you need more advice.

The fund can be used to cover articles based on research supported in whole or in part by any of the partner charities, even if that contribution is relatively minor.

Where the research is also supported by funders who are not participating in COAF, but who mandate open access and provide funds for it, then we expect those organisations to split the APC proportionally.

The fund can be used to cover APCs paid through publisher pre-payment schemes, but only if:

  • authors aren’t discouraged from publishing in their journal of choice
  • organisations don’t agree deals that compromise their ability to report on the actual cost of the APC for each funded research paper.

Where there is a transformative agreement in place (for example Springer CompactMicrobiology Society or Wiley), COAF can be used to contribute towards the publishing element of the agreement. See guidance on the use of COAF funds towards transformative agreements [PDF 187KB] for further details. The savings that organisations make through these agreements should be reflected in the level of APC they charge to COAF. 

What COAF doesn’t cover

  • APCs associated with commissioned or invited review articles, conference proceedings, editorials, letters or commentaries.
  • Other charges associated with publication, such as page and colour charges.

COAF cannot be used to cover costs associated with publishing book chapters and monographs open access. Wellcome has a separate funding mechanism to manage payment of these costs for its funded researchers. Please email for information.

COAF conditions for use of the fund

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

1. 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 at the time of publication - a link to the article on the publisher site is not sufficient. Details of the specific technical requirements for depositing papers in PMC can be found on the PubMed Central website.

2. License the content under a Creative Commons Attribution-only (CC-BY) licence. Only APCs for articles published under the CC-BY licence can be charged to COAF.

3. Where a final published paper is not in Europe PMC and/or not licensed under CC-BY, then researchers should contact the publisher. Read our 'Reporting requirements' below.

For articles submitted after 1 April 2017, the publisher must have agreed to the publisher requirements for COAF to be used for the APC. Use SHERPA FACT to identify which journals have signed up to the requirements.

Management of COAF: requirements for organisations

Organisations are required to use COAF on a strictly first-come, first-served basis, for eligible publications supported by any of the partner charities.

Only open access costs incurred by the organisation within the period of the block award can be charged to the fund.

Non-recoverable VAT associated with the APC can be charged to the fund.

This is the list of the 36 institutions receiving block grants through COAF.

Each grant is for one year and is subject to Wellcome standard grant conditions and payment arrangements.

Any unspent funds cannot be carried over. These should be written back to Wellcome and returned to the partner funders.

If an organisation spends all its combined block grant allocation in a given year, no further funds will be available through COAF.

If this happens, organisations and researchers should contact the relevant funder(s) for any additional papers to determine how to best comply with their open access policy requirements.

Reporting requirements

Organisations must inform Wellcome if the balance remaining on the grant falls below 10%. This information will be shared with the partner funders.

Organisations will be asked to provide an annual report at the end of the grant period, itemising each research paper for which an APC has been charged to the fund.

The information in these annual reports will be shared with the other funders, and details of APC spend will be made publicly available.

To support organisations with compliance checking, we've introduced an optional two-year compliance checking pilot.

During the pilot, organisations can send us a mid-year report listing the DOIs of papers for which an APC has been paid in the past six months.

We'll identify any non-compliance issues and contact the most frequently used publishers to resolve these. Organisations will need to contact other publishers.

We expect organisations to contact publishers at least twice to try to resolve any non-compliance issues. Please email if you're unable to resolve the issue with the publisher.


Any queries relating to the administration and use of the fund should be emailed to If necessary, we will forward queries to the relevant funder.

Questions relating to the specific open access policies of individual partner charities should be directed to the relevant partner: