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Changes to the Charities Open Access Fund (COAF) and Wellcome Trust Open Access Policy

End of the Charities Open Access Fund (COAF)

The Charities Open Access Fund (COAF) has supported researchers' compliance with the open access policies of six medical research charities since 2014. The Library has been administering this fund for the University of Warwick.

COAF relies on all partners sharing a common open access (OA) policy. This will no longer be the case from January 2021 when Wellcome implements its Plan S-aligned OA policy. Consequently, COAF will end on 30 September 2020.

All partners are committed to open access and will continue to fund open access costs for the researchers they support.

Warwick will continue to receive a block grant for open access fees for the Wellcome Trust from 1 October 2020 and this will continue to operate in the same manner as currently until 31 December 2020. From the 1 January 2021 the rules of the new Wellcome Trust Open Access Policy will come into force and the use of the block grant will change.

Wellcome Trust Open Access (OA) Policy is changing in 2021.

Below are some points authors may like to consider before the new policy comes into force, for articles submitted for publication from 1 January 2021. Full details of the new policy can be found on the Wellcome Trust website.

What should I do until the new policy comes into force?

Continue to use the current Wellcome Trust OA policy for articles submitted before 1st January 2021 and apply for APC funding in the same way as now.

I am currently preparing an article, what advice do you have?

If it’s ready for submission to the journal, submit before 1 January 2021. If you think you will be submitting after 1 January 2021, check if your selected journals are compliant with the new policy, and look out for any updates on the publisher’s policy. Information will be made available on this website and the Wellcome website, as it becomes available.

What is the new Wellcome Trust OA policy?

All research articles submitted from 1 January 2021 must be freely available in PMC/Europe PMC at the time of publication and with CC-BY licence (6-month embargo no longer permitted). OA publication costs in hybrid journals will no longer be funded.

More details can be found on the Wellcome Trust website.

What research is affected by the new policy?

The new policy will apply to all research articles supported in whole or in part by Wellcome.

Will I still be able to use Wellcome Open Research Platform?

Yes. If you haven’t used the Wellcome Open Research publishing platform before, you may like to check if it will suit your needs as it is still a compliant option under the new policy.

Will Wellcome continue to pay Article Processing Charges (APCs) under the new policy?

Under the new policy Wellcome will pay APCs for articles published in fully open access journals (ie not subscription journals with an OA option or hybrid journals) which meet the CC-BY and PubMed Central/Europe PMC requirements.

How can I check that my chosen journal is fully open access (i.e. all articles are published immediately OA in the journal) and therefore WT compliant?

  • If your chosen journal is listed in the Directory of OA Journals it means it is fully OA (
  • Before 1st January 2021 Wellcome Trust will publish further guidance on which journals are compliant with its policy, and which will include compliant journals that may not be listed in DOAJ (eg BMJ Journal which publishes all research articles open access, but charges for access to other content such as editorials and commentaries – this type of journal is not considered to be hybrid by Wellcome).
  • Wellcome mentions eLife, PLoS journals and Wellcome Open Research as compliant.
  • Table 1 below gives a list of a number of journals and their compliance status.
  • Contact

My chosen journal is not fully OA. Will I be able to publish in it and still be compliant?

You can publish in a subscription journal and be compliant with the new policy providing:

  • You can self-archive your Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM) in Europe PMC
  • Your AAM is made immediately available (no embargo) under a CC-BY licence.

Examples of already ‘green compliant’ publishers: Royal Society, Microbiology Society.

Are key journals that I publish in compliant with the new policy?

It is not currently possible to give a firm answer:

  • WT has stated that it will issue further guidance on which journals are compliant with its policy before the policy comes into effect on 1st January 2020.
  • Some journals may change their policies between now and 1st January 2021 in order to become WT compliant.
  • Some journals, not otherwise eligible, may be eligible during a transition period between 1 January 2020 and 31 December 2021 when WT will pay publication costs for journals that fall under Jisc Collections transformative OA agreements (or an equivalent) where the agreement allows 100% of research to be published immediately as open access. Transformative deals are where there is a commitment to transitioning to full open access. Before 1st January 2021 WT will publish a list of approved publishing agreements offered by publishers and that may be available to Warwick authors.
  • If you wish to check the current status of your chosen journal you can see whether it is fully OA using DOAJ, and if not, check its current embargo for AAMs using SHERPA Romeo, or send a query to
  • See Table 1 below for a list of journals and their current status with respect to WT new policy compliance (bear in mind policies could change between now and 1st January 2021).

Can I pay an APC in a hybrid journal using funds other than WT and still be compliant?

Yes, on the understanding that Wellcome’s OA policy is met (i.e. the article is freely available from Europe PMC on the final publication date with CC-BY licence), and Wellcome funds have not been used to fund the cost of the APC, either from the block award or using their funds provided on a research grant, then Wellcome would deem the article compliant.

I am worried that my chosen journal is not compliant and I won’t be able to publish in it

Wellcome Trust has taken a firm stand that it wants 100% of the research it funds to be freely available at the time of publication and licensed in a way that allows it to be reused.

Publishers may choose to amend their journal policies to make them compliant with the new WT policy. Researchers who are on executive and editorial boards of journals may like to consider reviewing and influencing the permissions and OA policies of the journals with which they have a connection.

At the time of writing, compliance with the OA policy will be a condition of the award from Wellcome Trust. There will be sanctions such as suspending grant payments for institutions where authors do not comply with the OA policy.

Wellcome is taking steps to address concerns such as this. See below.

I have a number of concerns about this revised policy. What is Wellcome doing to address researchers’ concerns?

Wellcome Trust has responded to some key concerns and put work in place to find solutions to others. See Robert Kiley's opinion piece for further information on the following topics:

  • What if high-quality journals don’t offer compliant routes – will they be off limits?
  • Won’t researchers’ careers be disadvantaged, particularly early career researchers?
  • Will international collaborations be threatened?
  • Will learned societies be threatened by the loss of publication revenues?

Will Wellcome pay page and other non-OA publication charges?

No. Wellcome will not provide funds for non-OA publication costs, eg colour, page charges etc. Note that since 1st March 2019 you may not include such charges within grant applications or claim them back. This policy will continue with the revised OA policy. WT states that “Where these costs apply, researchers must use other funds to meet these costs.”

Will I be able to collaborate with researchers in other countries or at different universities?

If more than one funder is involved you may be able to source funding for APCs in hybrid journals from a different funder and still be compliant.

As the policy currently stands you may have to discuss the impact of the policy on your publishing plans with collaborators, and which key journals will or will not be available to you. See also guidance from the Wellcome Trust site.

What else is new?

Wellcome-funded institutions must have a policy on responsible research assessment, the University of Warwick's Open Research Group is working on this policy and the implementation plan now.

Preprints must be made available in situations when there is a public health emergency.

What about the REF?

All Warwick authors should continue to Act on Acceptance and make sure their research outputs are logged and deposited with WRAP.

Further help and information

The Library will provide more detailed information as WT releases further guidance. If you have any questions send to the open access team at

Table 1: Key journals’ current compliance via with Wellcome OA policy 2020

Journal title ISSN Compliant with new WT policy? As of September 2020
BioMedCentral journals (eg BMC Cancer, BMC Trials, Malaria Journal) All journals Yes Open access journals; CC-BY & PMC.
Cell Reports 2211-1247 Yes Open access journal; CC-BY & PMC.
eLife 2050-084X Yes Open access journal; CC-BY & PMC.
Frontiers All journals Yes Open access journals; CC-BY & PMC.
Lancet 0140-6736 No Hybrid non-compliant gold OA; AAM in repository subject to 6 month embargo
Lancet OA journals (eg Lancet Digital, …Global, ..Public Health, …Planetary Health)   Yes Open access journals; CC-BY & PMC.
Nature Communications 2041-1723 Yes Open access journal; CC-BY & PMC.
Nature Genetics 1061-4036 No Subscription journal, no gold route; AAM in repository subject to 6-month embargo
NeuroImage 1053-8119 No Hybrid non-compliant gold OA; AAM in repository subject to embargo
PLoS journals All journals Yes Open access journals; CC-BY & PMC.
PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA) 0027-8424 No Hybrid non-compliant gold OA; AAM in repository subject to 6-month embargo.
Royal Society journals All journals Yes (Green route) Permits self-archiving AAM in Europe PMC at the time of publication (no embargo) and work available under CC-BY licence.
Scientific Reports 2045-2322 Yes Open access journal; CC-BY & PMC.
Wellcome Open Research 2398-502X Yes Open access platform; CC-BY & PMC.