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Wellcome Open Access policy and non-compliance – the sanctions

Sanctions could be as much as 10% of the value of the grant

The Charity Open Access Fund (COAF) is a partnership between Arthritis Research UK, Breast Cancer Now, the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Bloodwise, Parkinson’s UK and the Wellcome Trust and those researchers funded by them should be aware of the sanctions for non-compliance with their policy on Open Access.


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Where a research paper is paid to be made Open Access using the COAF fund- the following should be adhered to:

The paper is made freely available from PubMed Central (PMC) (research articles) or PMC Bookshelf (monographs and book chapters) and Europe PMC – where it must be made freely available at the time of publication (a link to the article on the publisher site is not sufficient) on date of publication or within 6 months. Journal policy can be checked via the SHERPA FACT website
License the content under a Creative Commons Attribution-only (CC-BY) licence. This requirement applies only to original research papers submitted for publication from 1 April 2013, where Trust funds have been used to pay for Open Access. (Author accepted manuscripts that are not paid to be made OA can use any license)
Acknowledge the funder and grant details on the paper
Include a clear statement in the publications about how the data, models and other materials underpinning the publication can be accessed by researchers and other users ** LSHTM has a research data repository Data Compass for this use

The journal will deposit, on behalf of the author, the final version of the article – which includes all the changes that arise from the peer-review, copy-editing and proofing processes – in PubMed Central (PMC) and content deposited in PMC is automatically mirrored to the Europe PMC repository.

Sanctions apply not only to authors who do not ensure their papers are made freely available from PubMed Central and Europe PubMed Central within 6 months of official publication, but also to authors who do not ensure their articles are made available under a CC BY licence in their journal of choice if an Open Access APC has been paid for by COAF.

Being fully aware

If you are a WT/COAF funded author you need to ensure you arrange the open access payment during the publication process. Some journals, such as Wolters-Kluwer, do not allow a Creative Commons licence to be applied to articles which have already been published. They may offer to make the article available as “free” instead, which would allow free access but with severe limits on re-use. An article being made “free” is not considered compliant for COAF, so all articles must be available under CC BY. Despite funder requirements some publishers, such as Elsevier, still offer funded authors Creative Commons licences that are non-compliant, so it is imperative that you are fully aware of the requirements of the Open Access Policy above and the options presented to you.

The WT were flexible during 2013/14 papers by agreeing to pay some APCs not published under the correct licence. However, following the launch of the Charity Open Access Fund, papers from 2014/15 cannot have their APCs paid for by COAF if the article has not been published under the correct licence.

Photo by Marko Vallius https://www.flickr.com/photos/mvallius/3669297796/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0

Photo by Marko Vallius https://www.flickr.com/photos/mvallius/3669297796/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0

Authors who do not comply with this policy will be met with 3 sanctions:

Where non-compliant papers are identified in an End of Grant Report, the Trust will withhold the final 10 per cent of the ‘total transferable funds’ budget on the grant until all papers comply. See 10 per cent retention policy.
Applicants will be required to ensure that Trust-funded papers resulting from current or previous grants are compliant before formal notification of any funding renewals or new grants can be issued.
Researchers will not be permitted to include any non-compliant Wellcome-funded publications in any application submitted to the Trust; such papers will be removed from the application and therefore discounted from consideration of a researcher’s track record *http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/About-us/Policy/Spotlight-issues/Open-access/Guides/WTD018855.htm#_11._What_happens

Since 2013 the WT has withheld the final 10 percent on a grant on 111 occasions *http://blog.wellcome.ac.uk/2015/03/03/the-reckoning-an-analysis-of-wellcome-trust-open-access-spend-2013-14/ [comments section], and will be increasing their emphasis on the need for full compliance during 2015.

You can read what the requirements are for publishing COAF-funded research papers in this checklist and more detailed help via the COAF Open Access pages from the Library.

If you require advice on the COAF/WT requirements please contact the Research Online team:

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