Open access policy

Published outputs that arise from our funding must be open and accessible to everyone.

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. Until then, researchers must continue to comply with our current policy.

The main output of research is new ideas and knowledge, which we expect our researchers to publish as high-quality, peer-reviewed research articles, monographs and book chapters.

We believe that maximising the distribution of these publications – by providing free, online access – is the most effective way of ensuring that the research we fund can be accessed, read and built upon. In turn, this will foster a richer research culture.

We therefore support unrestricted access to the published output of research as a fundamental part of its charitable mission and a public benefit to be encouraged wherever possible.

Specifically, we:

  • expect authors of research papers, monographs and book chapters to maximise the opportunities to make their results available for free
  • require electronic copies of any research papers that have been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, and are supported in whole or in part by Wellcome Trust funding, to be made available through PubMed Central (PMC) and Europe PMC as soon as possible and in any event within six months of the journal publisher's official date of final publication (similarly, monographs and book chapters must be made available through PMC Bookshelf and Europe PMC with a maximum embargo of six months)
  • expect Wellcome-funded researchers to select publishing routes that ensure the work is available immediately on publication in its final published form, wherever such options exist for their publisher of choice and are compliant with our policy
  • will provide grantholders with additional funding to cover open access charges, where appropriate, in order to meet our requirements
  • encourage – and where it pays an open access fee, require – authors and publishers to licence research papers using the Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC-BY) so they may be freely copied and re-used (for example, for text- and data-mining purposes or creating a translation), provided that such uses are fully attributed (CC-BY is also the preferred licence for monographs and book chapters)
  • affirm the principle that it is the intrinsic merit of the work, and not the title of the journal or the publisher with which an author's work is published, that should be considered in making funding decisions.

Find out more about how authors of research articles, monographs and book chapters are required to comply with our open access policy.

Information for publishers, including service requirements if an open access fee is paid, can be found in the publishers' guide [PDF 1.8MB].