Compliance with Wellcome Trust’s OA policy

The BioMed Central Open Access Colloquium on “Open Access: How Can We Achieve Quality and Quantity?“, held on February 8, 2007, included a very interesting presentation by Robert Kiley, Head of e-Strategy of the Wellcome Library. His presentation was part of the session on “The open access imperative: where are we now, and where do we want to be?“, and was entitled: “Funding open-access publications“. His PPT presentation can be downloaded.

The presentation includes some noteworthy information about compliance of publishers with the OA policy of the Wellcome Trust (WT).

On Slide 6 of the presentation, it’s pointed out that “OA increasingly seen as a service – which publishers offer to meet the needs of funders and authors“.

So, what are the variations from publisher to publisher in relation to the provision of this service? Information from Slide 7 of the presentation:

Significant number of commercial and not-for-profit publishers now offer an OA option that is fully compliant with the Trust’s requirements (e.g. PLoS, BMC, Elsevier, OUP, CUP, BMJPG, Sage, Taylor & Francis)“.

Other publishers allow the author to self archive a version of the final article and make that available within 6 months (e.g. Nature, AAAS, AMA, Am. Physiological Assoc)“.

However, some publishers have policies that do not allow Wellcome-funded authors to publish in these titles. High profile publishers that do not offer a WT-compliant policy include the American Association of Immunologists, and the American Association for Cancer Research“.

Slide 8 presents information obtained via the RoMEO database. The data indicate that 59% of biomedical publishers are compliant with the WT OA policy, 15% are in active discussion (with WT about the policy), 16% currently have no publicly-available policy, and 10% are non-compliant with the policy.

Slide 9 shows that, of the WT-compliant publishers, 75% permit compliance via the self-archiving (Green OA) route and 17% via a paid OA option. Both options are offered by 8% of WT-compliant publishers.

Slide 10 presents data from the “PubMed 4000 study”, which “analysed papers indexed by PubMed, and attributed to WT funding, and looked to see if these were published in journals that had a WT-compliant policy“. Of these, 70% had a WT-compliant policy, 20% were in active discussion, 5% had no policy, and 5% were non-compliant. (A Google search didn’t reveal any other information about this “PubMed 4000 study”).

Slide 11 is entitled: “How are OA costs being met?“, and includes the information that “80% of the research that is attributed to the Trust, also cites another funder“. For this reason, the WT is “Investigating the feasibility of asking the researcher to estimate the relative contribution of each funder“. And, “Whilst we [the WT] are in this transition period, WT will – if required – pick up 100% of the OA costs for any research attributed to the Trust“. It’s also noted on this slide that: “Only 22% of OA funds made available to UK universities in the year 05-06 has been claimed“.

Slide 12 is entitled: “Total cost of paying for OA?“. Excerpts: “Providing OA to all the research papers it helps fund will cost the Trust between 1%-2% of its annual research budget“. … “If every single one of those papers was published as an open access article, with an average cost of £1650 per article, the total cost to the Trust would be £6.64 million; just over 1% of our annual research budget“. “Trust is rarely the sole funder of a research team, and more than 80% of papers that acknowledge our support also acknowledge the support of one or more other funders. In time these costs will be spread throughout the research budget and fall below the figure estimated here“.

The presentation ends with a quotation (2006) from Sir John Sulston: “Ensuring that the outputs of research are freely available to all is the best way to maximise their utility. Open access is good for science, the research community and mankind”.

The audio aspect of Robert Kiley’s presentation is also available.

I noted his comments about “WT-recalcitrant publishers“, and his remarks that “researchers have the power“. When they move (from recalcitrant publishers to other publishers), “impact … will follow them“.

Increasing numbers of funding agencies, with the WT in a crucial leadership role, have become major representatives of the public interest, in the escalating tug-of-war between those who support OA and those who, at present, do not. Information of the kind outlined above is badly needed, to foster evidence-based policy decisions by funding agencies.


  1. tillje said

    Further to Robert Kiley’s comment that “High profile publishers that do not offer a WT-compliant policy include the American Association of Immunologists, and the American Association for Cancer Research“:

    According to information available via the Journal Cost-Effectiveness 2006 BETA website, the “AMER ASSOC IMMUNOLOGISTS” (AAI) publishes one journal, the Journal of Immunology. It’s noted that this non-profit journal, first published in 1916, is considered to provide “good value” (highlighted in green) in relation to its cost-effectiveness. This evaluation of journal cost-effectiveness is based on an indicator, the “Composite Price Index” (CPI). The CPI is “the geometric mean of the Price Per Article and the Price Per Citation“. For a description of the calculation of this indicator, see: explanation of the calculations.

    According to information available via this same website, the “AMER ASSOC CANCER RESEARCH” (AACR) publishes five journals. Of these, the journal with the longest history is Cancer Research. This non-profit journal is also considered to provide “good value” when evaluated on the basis of the CPI calculated for it.

    Another website,, provides access to information about leading journals in a wide variety of disciplines. In the site’s ranking for journals in Immunology, the Journal of Immunology is ranked 9th.

    In this site’s ranking of journals in Oncology, the AACR journal Cancer Research is ranked 6th.

    Information about each journal’s reponses to the NIH Public Access Policy are available. The Important Notice Regarding the NIH Public Access Policy of Cancer Research states that accepted manuscripts may be deposited at PubMed Central (PMC) and may be released for public access 1 year after print publication (not sooner).

    The: About the NIH Public Access Policy webpage of the AAI outlines a policy for the Journal of Immunology that’s similar to the one for Cancer Research, except that the AAI will only “grant a limited one-time waiver“. This “one-time waiver granted by AAI applies solely to deposition into PubMed Central and does not extend to any other repository, agency, or entity“.

    As noted at the Free Medical Journals site, the Journal of Immunology is free one year after publication.

    Free access to the full text of articles in the archives of the AACR Journals is also allowed one year after publication.

    One year, not six months. Some high-profile journals that permit free access one to six months after publication are listed at the Free Medical Journals site.

  2. tillje said

    See also: After eight months, 27% compliance with Wellcome Trust OA mandate, Peter Suber, Open Access News, February 21, 2008.

  3. Jim Till said

    For data on the level of compliance with the Wellcome Trust OA policy, see: Journals compliant with Wellcome mandate, Robert Kiley, UK PubMed Central Blog, June 1, 2009, and, Wellcome authors increasingly publishing in compliant journals, Gavin Baker, Open Access News, June 2, 2009. Reference is made to data from slide 14/21 of a presentation by Robert Kiley, accessible via: Funder mandates, UK PubMed Central Blog, May 29, 2009. The data show that, for Trust-funded research papers published between October of 2007 and August of 2008, about 33% were available in PMC/UKPMC within 6 months of publication. Potential compliance was 95% (the percentage of journals used by Wellcome-funded authors that have a “Wellcome-compliant” publishing option).

    The presentation included no data about the proportion of Trust-funded research papers that are OA, but via routes other than PMC/UKPMC.

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