We want the research we fund to be open and accessible, so it can have the greatest possible impact.
On this page
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.
During 2018, we are going to be reviewing the policy. Read our explainer to find out more about the motivation behind the review, and how and when it will happen.
- provide funding to cover our researchers’ open access publishing costs.
- work in partnership with other funders to support Europe PMC (PubMed Central) – an online database offering free access to published biomedical research.
- have developed Wellcome Open Research and support eLife – platforms which allow our researchers to quickly publish and share their findings in a fast, open and transparent way
- allow researchers to cite preprints in their grant applications.
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 also commissioned reviews on how to improve:
- data infrastructures [PDF 531KB]
- data standards [PDF 288KB]
- training and skills [PDF 365KB]
- global research equity [PDF 338KB].
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.
- We have a clinical trials policy, which requires every clinical trial we fund to be registered and for our researchers to adopt good practice in reporting their findings.
- We've joined ClinicalStudyDataRequest.com, a data sharing initiative involving academic research funders and pharmaceutical companies. Find out what it means for researchers and watch a webinar to get answers to some frequently asked questions.
- We run the Ebola Virus Disease Clinical Trial Data Access Committee secretariat.
- We commissioned Technopolis to study the types of clinical research that use data from trials. Read the final report [PDF 4.3MB] and summary [PDF 99KB].
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:
- what they think about open research
- how they practice open research
- what barriers they face.
We want to empower researchers and other innovators to pilot and evaluate new approaches to openness.
For example, we:
- commissioned a review to explore how incentives can encourage open research [PDF 271KB]
- launched the Open Science Prize, to kickstart new products and services that harness the power of open data.
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.
We offer a number of funding opportunities to support open research.
- Research Enrichment – Open Research funding for Wellcome grantholders to make their research more open, accessible and reusable. Awards can be up to £50,000 and applications are open all year round.
- the Open Research Fund to support individuals and teams anywhere in the world to carry out groundbreaking experiments in open research. Awards can be up to £50,000 and applications are open once a year.
- a new series of themed challenges to promote the innovative reuse of data (launching summer 2018)
- small amounts of funding to help researchers and organisations host meetings, workshops and events related to open research.
For more information, please contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who's working on it
- Robert Kiley, Head of Open Research
- David Carr, Programme Manager
- Hannah Hope, Open Research Co-ordinator
- Jennifer O’Callaghan, Clinical Data Sharing Manager
- Aki MacFarlane, Programme Officer
A full list of our published reports and data sets can be accessed on Figshare. Below are links to several key resources.
- For more about open access to publications, see
- Bjork’s and Solomon’s study on Developing an effective market for open access article processing charges [PDF 1.1MB]
- Scholarly communication and peer review [PDF 487KB], a report we commissioned to look at the future of research paper peer review.
- Read a case study about the Worldwide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN), a pioneering data sharing platform.
- The AllTrials campaign is calling for all past and present clinical trials to be registered.
If you have any questions, contact the team
Policies and guidance
Sharing data helps researchers to access and build on new information and knowledge.
Science policy affects a broad range of issues, ranging from data sharing and gene editing, to intellectual property and regulation.
Open access ensures that original research publications are available to everyone to read and re-use for free.