Wellcome, transformative agreements and rights retention
By Catherine Sharp, on 5 March 2021
With the start of the new Wellcome open access policy this year, we began to see a change in the way UCL’s Wellcome-funded authors think about open access. Wellcome authors have always been very well-informed about the Wellcome’s policy. Now they’re taking note, before submission, of which journals have adopted a Wellcome-compliant policy. They’re telling us that this is playing a key part in their choice of journal.
Although this post is about the Wellcome policy, we expect other funders to introduce similar policies, and our transformative agreements are available to most UCL corresponding authors. A number of European funders have already adopted the Plan S Rights Retention Strategy, which we’ll explain below.
Wellcome authors: can I publish gold open access?
Wellcome-funded papers can be published gold open access (open access on the publisher’s website, with the CC BY licence) where the journal is:
- fully open access (see the Directory of Open Access Journals)
- in one of our transformative agreements, or
- a transformative journal.
Other research papers can be made open access on publication, but most need to rely on the Wellcome’s Rights Retention Strategy.
To find out what options are available to you, and whether you can publish gold open access, start on our new Wellcome webpages, using the tools there to do a few quick checks.
- If you’re thinking of submitting to a fully open access journal, the key thing is to make sure that it’s listed in DOAJ.
- For subscription journals, start by checking our list of transformative agreements. We now have 25 agreements with a range of publishers, including small/society publishers like Bioscientifica, Portland Press, Company of Biologists and Future Science. They cover more than 6,200 journals.
The Journal Checker Tool that’s being developed (it’s available in beta at the moment) can help you to understand whether particular journals offer a compliant option, and if you need to rely on the fallback of the Rights Retention Strategy (see below).
Once you’ve used these resources, do get in touch with us if you’re not sure how to proceed.
“I want to submit to…”
Here are a few real-world examples of journals that authors have asked us about recently. Thanks especially to authors from ICH for most of these.
- Nature Communications. This is a fully open access journal, listed in DOAJ. We can pay the charges, provided the paper meets our eligibility criteria.
- Human Mutation. This is a subscription journal that’s included in our Wiley transformative agreement. You’ll find it in our list of journals in transformative agreements. We can pay the charges, provided the paper is eligible to use our transformative agreements (based on corresponding authorship and type of paper).
- Genetics in Medicine. This is a subscription journal that’s just been added to our Springer transformative agreement.
- British Journal of Psychiatry. This is a subscription journal. Although we don’t have a transformative agreement with the publisher, Cambridge University Press, the journal is listed as a transformative journal. We can pay the open access charges for Wellcome-funded papers that meet our eligibility criteria.
- Archives of Disease in Childhood. This is a subscription journal that’s in our new BMJ transformative agreement. This agreement only applies to papers funded by UKRI, Wellcome or a small number of other medical funders.
- Human Molecular Genetics. This is a subscription journal that’s included in our new Oxford University Press transformative agreement.
- Bioscientifica journals, e.g. Journal of Endocrinology, Journal of Molecular Endocrinology, Endocrine-Related Cancer, European Journal of Endocrinology and Reproduction. These journals are included in our Bioscientifica transformative agreement.
- Lancet subscription journals. Most Lancet journals are subscription journals. Although they don’t allow authors to make their accepted manuscripts open access in Europe PubMed Central on publication, Wellcome-funded authors retain the right to do this under the Wellcome’s Rights Retention Strategy (see below).
What are transformative journals? Are they the same as transformative agreements?
cOAlition S recognises journals as transformative if they meet specific criteria for transitioning to open access. This includes an annual increase in open access content of 5%, and a commitment to becoming fully open access when 75% of the content is published open access.
If a subscription journal is in one of our transformative agreements, the costs have been paid up front and authors can publish open access (provided the paper is eligible: this depends on things like the corresponding author’s affiliation and the type of paper.) If the journal isn’t in an agreement, but is considered a transformative journal, we can pay the open access charges if the paper is funded by a Wellcome grant held at UCL. This applies to 160 Elsevier journals, as well as Cambridge University Press journals.
How does Rights Retention work?
If you’re publishing in a subscription journal that isn’t in one of UCL’s transformative agreements, and isn’t a transformative journal, you’ll probably need to rely on Rights Retention. This isn’t necessary if your publisher allows immediate open access to the manuscript in an open access repository under the CC BY licence. Royal Society is an example of a publisher that allows this.
The Wellcome and Plan S Rights Retention Strategy gives authors a prior right, regardless of any publisher terms and conditions to the contrary, to make their accepted manuscripts open access on publication in an open access repository like Europe PubMed Central, with the CC BY licence. Contrary to what some publishers have been telling authors, it’s not possible for a publisher to override this permission, or for the author to waive the rights.
The author includes the Wellcome’s new mandatory text in their submission. If the article is published, the rights apply, and the author can deposit the paper in Europe PubMed Central on publication with the required CC BY licence.
All Wellcome-funded papers must now include the following statement when they submit to a journal. (You’ll find this on our webpages, too.)
This research was funded in whole, or in part, by the Wellcome Trust [Grant number]. For the purpose of Open Access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission.
What about other funders?
UKRI will be announcing their new UKRI open access policy soon. There will be a review of the open access policy for the next REF (or a different future assessment exercise), but the current requirements will continue to apply until any new policy is announced.
We’ll keep advising authors on our transformative agreements, and on all types of open access, through all these changes. Our webpages have been completely overhauled to try to communicate, as clearly as possible, all the many policies, funding and opportunities to publish open access that affect UCL authors. We’ve just put the icing on the cake by launching a new home page that we hope will help you find your way around all this information as easily as possible.