Wellcome initiates open access requirements for publishers

Wellcome has today published a set of requirements for open access publications1, which will come into force next spring.

The policy outlines what is required of publishers in order to receive article processing charges (APCs) from the charity. These include uploading articles to PubMed Central (PMC), making updates available to PMC if they are corrected or retracted, publishing content under a Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CC BY) and offering a reimbursement policy for APCs.

Publishers are requested to sign up to the requirements by 16th December 2016, and they will come into force on 1 April 2017. Wiley, Springer Nature, OUP, Royal Society and PLOS, who combined publish almost 50% of Wellcome funded research outcomes, have all committed to signing up to the requirements.

Charity Open Access Fund (COAF)2 members Cancer Research UK, British Heart Foundation and Parkinson’s UK will also apply the same requirements for outcomes of research they have funded. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation introduced the requirements in their Open Access Policy in January 2015, which come into full effect in January 2017.

Since 2006 Wellcome has worked with the publishing and research communities to champion unrestricted access to research, and accelerate the rate at which new discoveries can be applied to improve health. Its open access policy3 aims to ensure publications can be accessed, read and built upon.

The move to produce a set of publisher requirements came following an analysis4 by Wellcome of the number of articles which were non-compliant with their open access policy. Robert Kiley, Head of Digital Services at Wellcome, explains:

“Just in the last year our analysis shows 30% of Wellcome and COAF member articles for which an APC was paid didn’t comply with our open access policies.

“The relationships in the publication process aren’t straightforward, and we know there has been confusion with the process – for instance with which type of licence a researcher should choose for an article to be fully open access.

“We hope the new requirements will clarify these kinds of issues. Over the coming years we will be working closely with publishers and researchers to further reduce the number of articles which do not fully comply with our open access policy.”

Sector bodies and research associations Jisc, SCONUL, UKCoRR and RLUK are also supportive and will help to promote these requirements amongst the research community.