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Open Access Publishing Policy Guidance

Worldwide Cancer Research Open Access Publishing Policy: Guidance for Grantholders

1. What are my responsibilities under Worldwide Cancer Research’s new open access publishing policy?

If you are PI on an Worldwide Cancer Research grant that was awarded after October 2013, you are responsible for ensuring that the research findings from that grant are published in open access (OA) form. This applies to any peer-reviewed original research papers that contain work wholly or partly funded by Worldwide Cancer Research.

When publishing work funded by your Worldwide Cancer Research grant, you need to choose a journal that permits either immediate ‘gold’ OA, or ‘green’ OA with an embargo period of no longer than 6 months. We recommend that you think about how the paper will be made OA when you choose which journal to submit to.

If you are PI on a grant that was awarded before October 2013 it is your choice whether you abide by the policy or not, but we would encourage you to do so in order that your Worldwide Cancer Research- funded research data has maximum visibility and impact. You are eligible for the same support from Worldwide Cancer Research as current grantholders when making your publications OA.

2. What do ‘Gold’ and ‘Green’ Open Access mean?

Gold OA refers to papers that are immediately made open access upon online publication. This is usually associated with an ‘article processing cost (APC)’ that is charged to the author. To achieve gold OA, you need to choose an entirely open access journal, or opt for one of the many journals that offer a paid OA option for individual articles. Gold OA articles are often published under licences that allow text- and data- mining of the contents, as well as free use, distribution and adaptation of the article (with proper attribution of the source) thereby maximising the use of the data. Gold OA articles are usually made available by the publisher through PubMed Central, or a linked PMC repository.

Green OA refers to archiving of the post-peer review author manuscript (not the final, typeset version produced by the publisher) into Europe PMC. No fees are charged for green OA. Some journals will archive a manuscript on the author’s behalf if the author opts in to this service; other journals offer no OA option but allow the author to deposit their own copy of the final manuscript into Europe PMC. Often there is an embargo period placed on green OA so that the paper is available only to journal subscribers for a set period after publication. The maximum embargo Worldwide Cancer Research will accept is 6 months.

3. How can I make sure my paper is open access?

a.    Publish in an OA journal (Gold OA) 
No special steps need to be taken when publishing in these journals as all their articles are made OA immediately upon publication and linked via PubMed Central. OA publishers include BioMed Central and PLoS. An APC is charged by these journals; if you want Worldwide Cancer Research to meet these costs (up to a total of £2000) you must apply to us (see question 5). Do not include these charges on your grant invoices.

b.    Choose a paid-for OA option (Gold OA) 
Many traditional publishers now offer OA for individual articles upon payment of an APC; this usually involves selecting the ‘open access’ option once a paper has been accepted for publication. If you want Worldwide Cancer Research to reimburse the APC, you must apply when your paper has been accepted (see question 5). Do not include these charges on your grant invoices. Please note that we require the publisher to meet certain requirements if Worldwide Cancer Research reimburses an APC for this type of publication.

c.    Choose a journal that will archive the author manuscript for you (Green OA) 
Some publishers, including Nature Publishing Group, will archive the peer- reviewed final text manuscript into Europe PMC on the author’s behalf, if one of the funders of the work is a member of the Europe PMC funding group. You will need to opt-in to this service by declaring Worldwide Cancer Research as a funder of the research. No fee is charged for this route. There will usually be an embargo period before the manuscript is made available through Europe PMC; please note that 6 months is the maximum permitted by Worldwide Cancer Research. You should check that the manuscript is deposited in Europe PMC and made available within 6 months of the publication date, as adherence to Worldwide Cancer Research policy remains the responsibility of the grant PI.

d.    Self-archive the author manuscript (Green OA) 
If a journal offers no other OA options, it may allow authors to self-archive the peer-reviewed final text manuscript into Europe PMC. This can be done through the author manuscript submission system Europe PMC+. Manuscripts must be deposited no later than 6 months after the official date of publication. No fee is charged for this route.

4. How do I know which journals comply with the Worldwide Cancer Research policy and which route of OA they use?

The best source of information is usually the journal itself, but an up-to-date summary of journal OA policies is also stored in University of Nottingham’s Sherpa-Romeo database (see below for weblink).

5. In what circumstances will Worldwide Cancer Research contribute towards APCs?

Worldwide Cancer Research will contribute up to £2000 towards an APC if;

-  Worldwide Cancer Research is satisfied that the work was wholly or substantially funded by a Worldwide Cancer Research grant 
(we will normally expect the grant PI to be first or senior author),

-  the only way of making the paper OA in the chosen journal is by payment of a fee,

- no other source of APC funding is available to the authors, or the other sources of funding do not cover the whole APC,

-  The paper has not already been published and you are not claiming APCs retrospectively

- the paper will be published under a CC-BY Creative Commons, Attribution licence, - the full paper will be made immediately available through Europe PMC, PubMed Central or other linked PubMed repository. Access to the full-text paper through the journal website alone is not sufficient.

Do not include APCs on your grant invoices. You can apply for the reimbursement of an APC when your paper is accepted for publication and, if awarded, these costs must be invoiced separately from your grant.

6. How do I apply to Worldwide Cancer Research for APCs?

Once your paper has been accepted for publication, you need to complete our APC application form and email it to with the email subject line ‘APC application’. You cannot apply retrospectively for papers that have already been published open access, or where the invoice has already been paid by your institution. To prevent any delay in the publication of your paper, we will endeavour to review and respond to APC applications within three working days.

If your APC application is approved, your institution should pay the APC and we will reimburse your institution. We will provide you and your finance office with a reference number that should be used to invoice us for the APC payment. DO NOT include APC payments on your grant invoices.

7. What is the CC-BY Creative Commons, Attribution licence?

The CC-BY licence allows others to copy, distribute, transmit, adapt and make commercial use of the work under the condition that the user must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that the author or licensor endorse the user or their use of the work). For example, the CC-BY licence allows a paper, or parts of a paper, to be translated, text- or data-mined, or to be included in blog posts. The CC-BY licence allows for maximum re-use of research data and is the standard for gold OA publishing, offered by all the major OA publishers.

8. What is Europe PMC?

Europe PMC is a repository for biomedical literature that is based on and linked to PubMed Central. It provides free access to full-text scientific publications for anybody who has internet access. It is more extensive than PubMed Central in that it contains not only primary scientific papers, but also biomedical theses, patents and clinical guidelines. Europe PMC also contains details of thousands of grants awarded by the funders of the Europe PMC funding group, to which individual publications can be linked, helping both researchers and funding organisations track and demonstrate the outcomes of their grants. Worldwide Cancer Research became a member of the Europe PMC funding group in October 2013.

9. I’m not publishing in a gold OA journal - how do I archive into Europe PMC?

Check whether the journal will archive the peer-reviewed manuscript into Europe PMC on your behalf. If so, you will need to opt-in to this service by declaring Worldwide Cancer Research as a funder of the work. It is important you check that your manuscript has been archived by the publisher after any embargo period, even if it supposed to be an automatic process.

If the journal does not offer this service, you will need to archive the manuscript yourself through the Europe PMC+ portal. As a Worldwide Cancer Research grantholder you should have automatically received log-in details for your Europe PMC+ account. If you have mislaid these, please follow the instructions given on the Europe PMC+ website.

10. How will Worldwide Cancer Research monitor compliance with the OA policy?

Worldwide Cancer Research recognises that the field of scientific publishing is in flux and we are yet to see a single, sustainable model of OA publishing emerge. We also recognise that awareness of OA publishing varies from country to country, that PIs are likely to have preferred journals, and that early career PIs in particular may not have a free choice about where they publish. A transition period is to be expected.

At regular points during the first five years we will audit a random selection of grants to estimate the extent to which Worldwide Cancer Research-funded research is being published in OA forms. If there is a significant level of non-compliance with the OA policy at the end of this period, auditing is likely to become more thorough and enforcement action will be considered.

11. What if I want to publish in a journal that does not comply with the Worldwide Cancer Research policy?

We would encourage you to favour journals that enable your research results to be made freely available. If you wish to publish in a non-compliant journal and your Worldwide Cancer Research grant was awarded after October 2013, please contact Worldwide Cancer Research’s Head of Research for guidance.

Additional information

For questions on Worldwide Cancer Research’s open access policy please contact

To make an application for APCs:
 Download the application form and email to

Europe PMC:;

Sherpa-Romeo website:

September 2013