Open research

We want the research we fund to be open and accessible, so it can have the greatest possible impact. 

Our position

Transforming human health will take longer if research outputs – like publications, data, software and biological materials – aren’t managed, shared and used in ways that realise their full value.

We’ve been leading efforts to make research more open for over 20 years, ever since we worked to make sure the results of the Human Genome Project were released immediately into the public domain.

In recent years, the research community has made significant progress. But there are still challenges. For example, many researchers are concerned that the time and effort taken to share outputs puts them at a competitive disadvantage, without bringing enough benefits. Addressing challenges like this is at the heart of our work. 

We explain what open research is and why we support it.

What we’re doing

Open access to publications

We were the first research funder to introduce a mandatory open access policy. All journal articles, book chapters and monographs that present the findings of the research we fund must be made freely available. Since then, more than 150 global research funders have followed our lead.

In November 2018, following a six-month review, we announced that we're updating our open access policy. The changes will apply from 1 January 2021. Read:

We also:

Find out why we think no research should be behind a paywall.

Data, software and material sharing

There are many challenges around sharing research outputs, from how best to use confidential patient data in research, to how to share data when under the pressure of a public health emergency like Ebola or Zika. Our open research team works with other teams across Wellcome and with partners to address these challenges.

Our policy and guidance on data, software and materials management and sharing sets out what we expect of our researchers.

Clinical trials data 

Clinical trials data is a valuable resource for researchers, who can use it to advance medical science by building on previous findings and exploring new questions. 

We support the sharing of this data in several ways.

Incentives for researchers 

Researchers who lead the way in making their research open aren’t always given the recognition or incentives for doing so.

To help improve this:

We also recognise that funding processes traditionally emphasise journal articles, rather than other research outputs, such as datasets and software. We’re exploring ways to address this, along with other funders who have similar concerns.

For example, we have:

Funding opportunities

We offer a number of funding opportunities to support open research.

These include:

For more information, please contact the team at

Current commissioned work

Helping learned societies transition to Plan S

We've appointed Information Power to explore a range of potential business models [PDF 1MB] which could help learned societies move to a Plan S-compliant publishing model. This work is in partnership with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP).

The work began in February 2019 and will be completed by summer 2019.

FAIRware: a software tool to assess the FAIRness of research outputs

We're currently looking at the scope to develop a software tool that can assess whether research outputs produced by Wellcome-funded researchers are FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable).

We expect the project will involve the development of a:

We're currently reviewing the responses we received to an initial request for information [PDF 422KB], and will provide an update soon.  

Contact us

More information

A full list of our published reports and data sets can be accessed on Figshare. Below are links to several key resources.

Contact us

If you have any questions, contact the team


Data sharing

Sharing data helps researchers to access and build on new information and knowledge.

Influencing policy

Science policy affects a broad range of issues, ranging from data sharing and gene editing, to intellectual property and regulation.

Open access

Open access ensures that original research publications are available to everyone to read and re-use for free.