Wellcome Trust Open Access policy 2021

Kyle Brady
Tuesday 8 June 2021

The Wellcome Trust Open Access policy has been substantially changed, and beginning January 2021 all Welcome-funded researchers will need to ensure their research outputs are compliant with the new requirements. This new policy is aligned with Plan S principles, an initiative first announced back in September 2018 designed to accelerate the move towards Open Research by harmonising funder policies.WT Logo

New Welcome Trust OA policy


  • covers research articles, books, and chapters submitted after 1st Jan 2021
  • All articles must be made available immediately following publication in Europe Pubmed Central. When paying for Gold Open Access the publisher should provide this as a service, but if researchers opt for Green open access they will likely have to deposit in PMC manually. Books and chapters must be deposited in NCBI bookshelf and Europe PMC within 6 months of publication
  • All articles must carry a CCBY licence, this applies to accepted manuscripts as well. For books and chapters you may opt for CC BY-NC or CC BY-NC-ND
  • Open Access embargoes (delayed access) are no longer allowed (press embargoes do still apply)
  • WT will only pay APCs for fully OA journals (some exceptions apply)
  • Using the Rights Retention Strategy means researchers can maintain the right to archive their accepted manuscript with a CC BY  and zero embargo
  • The Open Data policy remains the same: ‘As a minimum, the data underpinning research papers should be made available to other researchers at the time of publication’

This policy applies to:

  • journal articles that report original, peer-reviewed research’ as well as ‘all original scholarly monographs and book chapters’
  • does not apply to ‘textbooks, trade books, general reference works or works of fiction, or to collections edited, but not authored, by Wellcome grantholders’

Funding for OA

  • Wellcome Trust will continue to issue Block grants to institutions in receipt of WT funding
  • WT will pay APCs for WT compliant fully OA journals
  • WT will pay APCs for some ‘Hybrid’ journals if they are deemed ‘transformative‘ according to Plan S principals

Wellcome funded researchers should ensure the following:

  1. First researchers should use the Journal Checker Tool to check what options are available for their chosen journal. Depending on whether the journal is fully OA, hybrid, or part of a transitional agreement, researchers will be shown a number of options or ‘routes’ to compliance (see below)
  2. If you have opted to publish in a fully open access journal, you should also get in touch with the Open Access team on submission, so we can add your article as a commitment to the Wellcome Trust Block grant
  3. Ensure submissions include a CC BY licence along with text explaining your obligations under the Trust’s OA policy, using the Rights Retention Strategy (RRS). More information on RRS and example text to include in a cover letter is provided here
  4. Always ensure that your Wellcome Trust grant is acknowledged in your paper, including the grant reference number
  5. In all cases ensure you should deposit the accepted manuscript in Pure along with the date of acceptance, remembering to link to the WT grant

Three Routes to Compliance

    • Route 1. The Journal Checker Tool will check if the journal is fully open access and meets the Trust’s requirements (e.g. indexed in DOAJ,  deposits in Europe PMC)
    • Route 2. If the journal is subscription based (also known as hybrid) you can deposit the accepted manuscript in PMC directly. This should be completed by date of publication, with a CC BY licence and zero embargo
    • Route 3. Publish in a subscription (hybrid) journal that is part of a ‘transformative’ open access deal. Such deals exist for Springer, Wiley, Taylor and Francis, SAGE, and Microbiology Society. This will grant full open access to the final published version

As always you can get in touch with the Open Access team for more information or advice.

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