Complying with our open access policy

Our open access policy applies to all original, peer-reviewed research publications that have been supported, in whole or in part, by Wellcome. 

The policy does not cover:

  • editorials
  • letters
  • conference proceedings
  • review articles
  • study protocols.

If you’re funded by Wellcome and want to make an unsolicited review article or a study protocol open access, we will meet the cost of the Article Processing Charge (APC) where the publisher provides a Wellcome-compliant paid open access option.

Since 1 October 2013, our open access policy has included scholarly monographs and book chapters authored and co-authored by Wellcome grantholders that arise as part of their grant-funded research.

The policy does not apply to PhD theses by Wellcome-funded students. But we expect PhD theses to be made freely available from the EThOS repository as soon as possible.

From 1 January 2021 our open access policy is changing [PDF 158KB]. Read our explainer about what will be different and why, and our frequently asked questions [PDF 173KB] for more information about the changes.

As an author of a Wellcome-funded research article, you should take the following steps to ensure your work complies with our open access policy:

Step 1: Check that our policy applies to the type of paper you plan to publish.

Step 2: Check that your journal of choice has a publishing policy compliant with our grant conditions. Wellcome-funded authors can use the SHERPA Funders’ and Authors’ Compliance Tool (SHERPA FACT) to check this.

Step 3: This depends on the Wellcome-compliant open access option the journal offers:

  • If the journal asks you to pay an article processing fee (APC) for publishing your article, they will deposit the article in PMC and Europe PMC on your behalf immediately upon publication and we will meet the associated costs. Where Wellcome funds are used to meet the cost of the APC the article must be licensed using the Creative Commons, Attribution licence (CC-BY).
  • If the journal does not offer a compliant paid open access option, you can still comply with the policy by depositing a copy of the author’s accepted manuscript in Europe PMC. You should make this freely available no later than six months after the date of publication. You can use the author manuscript submission system Europe PMC plus to self-archive your papers.
  • Some publishers will archive a manuscript on the author’s behalf. Authors usually have to opt-in to this service, but will not have to pay a fee.

Step 4: Ensure that Wellcome funding, including the grant reference number, is acknowledged on all papers.

When there’s no open access option

You’re unlikely to be able to comply with our grant conditions if the journal does not have an open access option or does not allow self-archiving in PMC/Europe PMC within six months of publication.

If this is the case, you have three options:

  • Grant a licence of your copyright to a journal instead of assigning copyright. Such a licence would have to allow the journal to publish but still allow you to make your research available through PMC/Europe PMC. In this way, you should be able to retain ownership of your copyright and still allow publication in a journal. This could be achieved, for example, through using the SPARC Author Addendum to Publication Agreement
  • Agree to a journal's normal arrangements on the condition that it is specifically agreed that deposition in PMC/Europe PMC can take place.

Copyright agreements can take many forms, but the following is an example of the sort of wording that could be included in an agreement with a journal that would still allow you to comply with our grant conditions:

“Notwithstanding any of the other provisions of this agreement, the journal acknowledges that the researcher will be entitled to deposit an electronic copy of the final, peer-reviewed manuscript for inclusion in PubMed Central (PMC), and for this manuscript to be mirrored to all PMC international sites, such as Europe PMC.”

Manuscripts deposited with PMC (and Europe PMC) may be made freely available to the public, via the internet, within six months of the official date of final publication in the journal.

  • Reconsider where to publish. This is unlikely as research we’ve done shows that over 95% of journals in which Wellcome-funded authors publish offer open access options.

When self-archiving in Europe PMC, no APC is payable to the publisher.

More information

We recognise that key research findings may be published as scholarly monographs or book chapters. We want the visibility and impact of these research outputs to be maximised.

What’s covered by our policy

In 2013, we extended our open access policy to include monographs and book chapters, specifically:

  • The policy change applies to all original scholarly monographs and book chapters authored or co-authored by Wellcome grantholders as part of their grant-funded research. The policy does not apply to textbooks, ‘trade’ books, general reference works or works of fiction, or to collections edited, but not authored, by Wellcome grantholders.
  • In line with our existing open access policy, grantholders are required to make these research outputs available through PMC Bookshelf and Europe PMC as soon as possible, with a maximum embargo of six months.
  • We will make funds available for the payment of publishers’ open access monograph processing charges.
  • Where a publishing fee is levied, such works must be available without embargo, and be licensed in ways which support their re-use. Although the Creative Commons, Attribution licence (CC-BY) is strongly preferred, where this isn't available we will accept non-commercial and/or no-derivatives licences (ie CC-BY-NC, or CC-BY-NC-ND).

The author or publisher of research funded by Wellcome should deposit the monograph or book chapter for inclusion in PMC Bookshelf and Europe PMC using the monograph and book chapter deposit form.

This extended policy came into effect for all grantholders in October 2014 and now applies to all grantholders, past and present.

The one exemption to this is if the contract to publish a book was in place before October 2014.

Differentiating between journals and book series

It may be unclear whether your work is being published in a journal or as part of a book series. Some journals indexed in MEDLINE are marketed as book series. However, as all publications indexed by MEDLINE have been submitted for indexing as journals by the publisher, we consider them to be journals. 

Articles published within such a series should be deposited in PubMed Central and licensed under the Creative Commons, Attribution licence (CC-BY).

If you’re unsure, you can check the publication status or email

How to comply with our open access policy

To ensure your scholarly monograph or book chapter complies with our open access policy, you should make it available from PMC Bookshelf and Europe PMC as soon as possible. It must be within six months of the publisher's official date of final publication. 

Where an open access publishing fee is levied, works must be available without embargo and licensed in ways which support their re-use.

Open access monographs and book chapters will be freely available in both html and PDF format via the repositories.

Wellcome grantholders or publishers of research funded by Wellcome should use this deposit form to deposit a monograph or book chapter for inclusion in the PubMed Bookshelf and Europe PMC. 

The following information is needed to complete the form:

  • relevant Wellcome grant number or grant-holder name
  • full text monograph or book chapter files, plus associated metadata files if available
  • licence details of the publication
  • embargo release date, if applicable.

Publishers with a compliant open access option for monographs

We work hard with authors and publishers to ensure that a researcher's ability to choose the publisher they feel is most appropriate isn't compromised by trying to comply with our policy.

We believe adopting a strong open access mandate will give existing publishers a strong rationale to develop open access book publishing mechanisms. This will encourage new, fully open access book publishers to emerge.

Publishers that already offer an open access option for scholarly monographs include:

Other publishers, such as Oxford University Press and Rutgers University Press, don’t yet have an open access policy for monographs but are happy to discuss options with Wellcome-funded grantholders.

If you’re thinking of publishing a monograph or book chapter with a publisher that doesn’t have an open access option, please email We'll work with you and the publisher to see if it's possible to publish your work open access.

Meeting open access costs

The awards made to institutions for open access through the Charity Open Access Fund (COAF) cannot be used to cover the cost of open access fees associated with Wellcome-funded scholarly monographs and book chapters. 

For more information, see how to get open access funding.

Using third-party images in open access publications

It is possible to use third-party images in open access publications, but this is a new area for many authors, publishers and image providers. There are challenges working out how images can be reused and licensed within open access content.

You should ask for permission to use the image(s) as usual.

It’s important to inform the owner of the image that your work will be published open access. However, the choice of how the image itself is licensed remains with the image’s owner.

Ideally, the image will be published under the same licence as the rest of your work, but this is not essential – the image can be licensed separately.

A number of major image providers have made their collections open access, for example the National Gallery of Art, the Getty, Wellcome Images and Yale Center for British Art.

Image fees

Wellcome’s open access fund can’t be used to pay image fees. If it’s essential to use a third-party image, you can use the flexible funding allowance (FFA) provided on your Wellcome grant to meet this cost.

If you’re applying to a funding scheme that doesn’t get the FFA, you can ask for this cost in your grant application.

How we define ‘scholarly’ monographs or book chapters

‘Scholarly’ books are defined by their content and their intended audience.

Content - they represent the results of original academic research, presented in accordance with recognised academic conventions, eg with rigorous inclusion of bibliographic references. 

Audience - scholarly books are written by, and aimed at, those who are actively engaged with or interested in academic research, rather than a general readership. 


Scholarly books are sometimes identifiable by the publisher, imprint, or series, or by the way in which they are described and marketed by publishers. They’re unlikely to be stocked by general booksellers.

What to expect from publishers when paying a fee to make your book open access

Your publisher should:

  • offer the same peer review and marketing services for open access books as they do for non-open access books
  • deposit your work in PMC Bookshelf on your behalf, to help you comply with our open access policy.

Most publishers publish a print copy and an epub version of the book to sell. Some publishers offer the epub for free.

Some publishers offer royalties on print and e-book sales of open access books. This is something you can discuss during the negotiation.

More information

The scope of being funded ‘in whole or in part’

Our open access policy applies to the following research papers, monographs and book chapters:

  • research that has been funded in whole or in part through a Wellcome grant (either during the award, or after the funding period has ended)
  • where a Wellcome Investigator Award holder, Wellcome Fellow or any other individual in receipt of salary support from Wellcome appears as a co-author during the period of their award (this applies even where the specific research project is not Wellcome-funded).
  • research at Wellcome Centres and Africa and Asia Programmes which has been supported through the Core Award, even if the research has been primarily supported by grants from one or more other funders. 

Wellcome-funded researchers should ensure that the provision of data, materials or technical assistance to external users is acknowledged in resulting research papers, in line with best practice in that field. But these papers would only fall under the our policy where a Wellcome-funded researcher appears as a co-author.

Monitoring compliance

We monitor research papers authored by our funded researchers to make sure they comply with our policy. We do this when researchers apply for funding, and when they submit their end-of-grant reports.

When research papers aren't compliant, we won't:

  • issue formal notification of any funding renewals or new grants until applicants have made sure that their Wellcome-funded research papers – resulting from current or previous grants – are compliant
  • accept new grant applications from a researcher where we identify non-compliant research papers in an end-of-grant report, until the papers are made compliant.