Britain’s Wellcome Trust, one of the world’s most respected medical and scientific charities, is taking a very public stance on the debate over open access to published scientific research, and on the so-called “luxury journals” question regarding the policies and actual contribution of brand-name scientific journals. And this has now been highlighted in an interview with the UK’s The Bookseller, headlined “ecosystem of science and publishing needs to change.”

Wellcome Trust
The Wellcome Library interior, courtesy of the Wellcome Library

In keeping with the true spirit of open access, however, The Bookseller has made the interview subscriber-access only for now. However, I’ve posted the link to the interview for those who are subscribers. And meantime, below are some significant position statements and announcements from the Trust on its position over open access.

In its “Position statement in support of open and unrestricted access to published research,” the Trust declares that: The mission of the Wellcome Trust is to support the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. The main output of this research is new ideas and knowledge, which the Trust expects its researchers to publish in high-quality, peer-reviewed journals. The Wellcome Trust believes that maximising the distribution of these papers – by providing free, online access – is the most effective way of ensuring that the research we fund can be accessed, read and built upon. In turn, this will foster a richer research culture. The Wellcome Trust therefore supports unrestricted access to the published output of research as a fundamental part of its charitable mission and a public benefit to be encouraged wherever possible.”

Note that: Wherever possible. Without any exceptions or qualifications. The Trust then goes on to outline in detail exactly how this should be done, including its requirements for free publication of any research “supported in whole or in part by Wellcome Trust funding.”

The Trust has also publicized some of its other initiatives in support of open access. In particular, from early December, it highlights the support of its Wellcome Library for the Knowledge Unlatched open access project, which “aims to make a collection of books, covering a wide range of humanities and social science topics, available on open access licenses through funding from hundreds of libraries.” Said Zina Sabovic, Head of Collection Management at the Wellcome Library, in the release: “The Wellcome Library supports access to published research in all its forms. Working with other libraries through Knowledge Unlatched will help us achieve this aim.”

So there is some idea of where exactly the Wellcome Trust stands on this issue. With or without open access to its own statements on the subject.


  1. While many have argued in favor of open access, few have come forward with viable plans for supporting the costs involved. In other words, someone has to pay the costs of all the things that publishers now do. Here is a somewhat inflated list:
    While this list might be distilled into a shorter one, it cannot be reduced to zero. So the question becomes how best to pay for what is essential on this list?
    Currently, there are all sorts of schemes to shift and hide these costs. A shell game IMHO.

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