Wellcome Trust open access policy

Information about the Wellcome Trust's new open access policy, effective as of January 1 2021.



In January 2021, the Wellcome Trust introduced a new open access policy which applies to all original research articles submitted for publication which are supported in whole, or in part, by Wellcome.

Other article types, such as editorials and review articles are not in the scope of the policy.

Read the policy in full

Key changes

  • All Wellcome-funded research articles must be available open access via an approved route and/or be made freely available through PubMed Central (PMC) and Europe PMC on publication.

  • Wellcome have introduced a new grant condition that grant holders must automatically grant a CC BY public copyright licence to all their future Author Accepted Manuscripts (AAM). This must be stated clearly on all manuscripts on submission.

  • Wellcome will no longer cover the cost of open access publishing in subscription journals (‘hybrid OA’).

  • (Update, September 2022) Authors submitting to Nature Research hybrid journals should be aware that UEB has agreed that no APCs should be paid to publish OA in Nature Research hybrid journals from any central funding source managed by the Library. This includes the Wellcome open access block grant. Wellcome-funded authors submitting to Nature should include a licensing statement and deposit into Europe PMC with no embargo. More information about the decision here.

See the sections below for more detailed information and instructions on how to comply with this new policy.

Routes to comply

  1. Publish under a CC-BY licence in a fully open access journal which is indexed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), or on an open access platform. Wellcome will cover the Article Processing Charge (APC) from the institutional block grant.

  2. Publish open access in a subscription journal which is operating under an approved transformative agreement or is designated as a transformative journal.

  3. Publish in a subscription journal and make the Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM) openly available in a repository on publication under a CC BY public copyright licence.

Note that you can only use the third route if the publisher accepts Wellcome’s terms. Researchers who are relying on this route must not sign a contract that conflicts with these terms and agrees to an embargo.

If the publisher refuses to accept this, Wellcome advises that you find a different venue in which to publish your work. If you have any questions, please contact OAEnquiries@sheffield.ac.uk.

Policy requirements

  • The Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM) must be deposited at Europe PMC and freely available by the official final publication date. Instructions on how to do this are available.

  • All articles must be published under a Creative Commons attribution licence (CC BY), unless the Wellcome Trust have agreed, as an exception, to allow publication under a CC BY-ND licence. Exceptions have to be agreed with Wellcome for each article in advance of submission. Information on how to apply.

  • All original research articles submitted to peer-reviewed journals MUST include the following statement at submission: 'This research was funded in whole, or in part, by the Wellcome Trust [Grant number]. For the purpose of Open Access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission.’

  • All submitted articles must also include a statement explaining how other researchers can access any data, original software or materials underpinning the research.

  • All Wellcome-funded institutions have to commit to the principle that for the purpose of assessment, it is the intrinsic merit of the work, not the title of the journal or publisher. The University of Sheffield is compliant with this through the signing and implementation of DORA. Researchers should also keep this in mind when deciding where to publish.

What to do when

Before submission

  • Use the Journal Checker Tool to check which route you should follow to comply with the policy. The tool will offer one or more of the following routes:

    • Full open access

    • Transformative agreements (the tool will indicate whether Sheffield is part of an agreement with the publisher)

    • Self-archiving with rights retention

  • If you wish to apply to use the CC BY-ND license instead of CC BY, fill in the CC BY-ND exception form and gain approval from Wellcome before submission.

  • Contact OAEnquiries@sheffield.ac.uk with questions about compliance, transformative agreements and whether your open access charges can be paid using our Wellcome block grant. Please note that the Journal Checker Tool is a beta version and has just been launched, so we encourage you to contact us with any questions.

On submission

  • Submit the rights retention statement to the publisher. Wellcome advises that this is included in the funding acknowledgement section of the manuscript, and in a separate cover letter.

On acceptance

  • Contact OAEnquiries@sheffield.ac.uk to confirm that open access charges will be paid using the Wellcome block grant and receive further instructions for payment or for accessing a transformative agreement. If your article was submitted before 1 January 2021, it falls under the old policy. If it was submitted after 1 January 2021, it falls under the new policy.

  • If an article is being published Gold open access, select a CC BY license (or a CC BY-ND license if it has been agreed with Wellcome).

  • If you are not publishing Gold open access, deposit your article in Europe PMC as soon as possible after acceptance, as it should be available by the official online publication date. Note: if you have not paid a Gold open access fee allowing immediate open access for the version of record, you will need to deposit your author accepted manuscript (AAM). We recommend that if you are depositing your AAM, that you email helpdesk@europepmc.org to inform them first, as this will avoid confusion.

  • All University of Sheffield researchers must also deposit their author accepted manuscript to WRRO, via myPublications within 3 months of acceptance in order to be compliant with the REF open access policy.

Monographs and book chapters

Monographs and book chapters acknowledging funding from the Wellcome Trust must be open access within six months of the official date of final publication.

Funding is available to cover book processing charges, but it is administered separately from the open access block grant.

If you wish to apply for open access funding for your monograph or book chapter, email openaccess@wellcome.org with the details listed on this page.

You can also make your monograph or book chapter available through Europe PMC or NCBI Bookshelf. 


Is there a list of journals that are compliant with the new Wellcome Trust Open Access policy?

As there are different routes to compliance, the majority of journals should be compliant with the policy as long as they accept the terms of the rights retention statement.

The Wellcome Trust’s preferred route to compliance, however, is Gold open access in a fully open access journal, or subscription journal that is part of a transformative agreement, and by choosing these routes you will not encounter any resistance from publishers.

You can find fully open access journals in the Directory of Open Access Journals and the University of Sheffield’s transformative agreements on our webpage

What happens if a publisher refuses to accept the rights retention statement?

Wellcome has notified publishers of their change in policy and initially no publishers stated that they would reject manuscripts containing the rights retention statement.

However, there have now been examples of publishers asking authors to sign contracts that effectively override the statement and agree to an embargo. If you sign such a contract and go ahead with the deposit, you risk being in breach of the publisher’s terms.

Wellcome has now advised that in such cases you will need to choose a different publication venue. Please notify Wellcome of the publisher’s name so they can update their Journal Checker Tool.

Am I eligible for the University of Sheffield’s transformative agreements if I am not the corresponding author?

For the majority of transformative agreements, the corresponding author must be affiliated to the institution that has the agreement.

If you are not the corresponding author, check whether the corresponding author’s institution is also part of the agreement. If not, comply with the policy via the green route by depositing the author accepted manuscript into Europe PMC.

Further information

Further information is available on the Wellcome open access webpages or contact OAEnquiries@sheffield.ac.uk

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