This week, the Wellcome Trust announced a new open access policy, which will be applicable to all original, peer-reviewed research articles submitted for publication from 1st January 2020. Robert Kiley, Head of Open Research at the Wellcome Trust, outlined five key changes versus the current policy:
- Most importantly, all publications of Wellcome-funded research will need to be immediately freely available through PubMed Central (PMC) and Europe PMC (rather than after a six-month embargo period, as was the case previously).
- All research must be published under a Creative Commons attribution (CC-BY) license, to maximise reuse of Wellcome-funded research, and therefore its potential contribution to further scientific discovery.
- The Wellcome Trust will relinquish support of the ‘hybrid open access’ model; open access fees for such journals will no longer be covered. This move echoes a recent statement from the President of Science Europe.
- To facilitate prompt sharing of important public health findings, such as those relating to disease outbreak, the new policy will require publishing of preprints before peer review in such cases.
- Finally, Wellcome-funded organisations will need to sign or publicly commit to the San Francisco Declaration of Research Assessment (DORA), or an equivalent, to encourage consideration of the intrinsic merit of research when making decisions around funding and researcher promotions.
The Wellcome Trust is a keen advocate of the open access movement. As the first research funder to instate a mandatory open access policy, the trust believes that maximising dissemination of publications through free, online access is the optimal approach to ensure availability and reuse of funded research. The trust has committed to the recently-launched cOAlition S alliance, and the new policy is aligned with Plan S, an initiative to make publicly funded research freely available by January 2020. The Wellcome Trust hopes the new policy will “support a transition to a fully open access world, where no research is behind a paywall”.