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 such as cell lines – aren’t managed, shared and used in ways that unleash 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.

Our short animation explains what open research is, and why we support it.

In recent years, the research community has made significant progress. Around 80% of all Wellcome-funded research publications are now openly available. And resources like the Protein Data Bank and the European Nucleotide Archive have become the main way for data about protein structures and DNA sequences to be shared.

But there are still significant 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 heart of our work. 

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 2020. Read:

We also:

Data, software and material sharing

There are many challenges in 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.

We’ve already developed a policy and guidance for our researchers on data, software and material sharing and management best practice.

We’ve also commissioned reviews on how to improve: 

Clinical trials data 

Clinical trials data is a valuable resource for researchers, 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.

We ran a survey with our researchers to find out:

We want to empower researchers and other innovators to pilot and evaluate new approaches to openness. 

For example, we:

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.

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 have 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 & Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP).

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

Request for information

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

We are exploring the scope to develop a software tool capable of assessing whether the research outputs produced by Wellcome-funded researchers are FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable).

It should cover (but is not limited to):

We expect the project will involve the development of:

At this stage, we are seeking the views of potential suppliers and other informed parties on:

We have identified a series of questions on which we would welcome input.

If you would like to submit your views:

The deadline for input is 17:00 GMT on Thursday 28 February 2019.

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.


A woman scientist handling test tubes at UK Biobank.

Opinion | 19 February 2019

Open access and Plan S: how Wellcome is tackling four key concerns by Robert Kiley, David Carr

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.