Wellcome Open Research: A new open-access publishing initiative


Source: Pixabay

A new open-access research publishing journal is months away from being launched, and it has the potential to dramatically impact the landscape of the scientific publishing process for biomedical research and beyond. Dubbed Wellcome Open Research, the up and coming journal provides an alternative to the current method in which scientific papers are published.

This open-access publishing venture is an initiative of the Wellcome Trust in UK, one of the world’s largest biomedical charities.

What’s different?

Scientific papers are typically submitted to a specific journal, where it is subject to a peer review. The identities of the peer reviewers may or may not be known by the author of the paper, depending on the policy set by individual journals.

Feedback from the peer review will result in one of three outcomes. If the paper satisfies the standards of the journal, it will be sent for publishing after minor edits on the part of the peer reviewers. If it falls slightly short of those standards, it will be sent back to the author for editing before another round of review. If it does not meet the standards of the journal, it will be rejected, and the author’s most realistic option is to submit the paper to a different journal. The process of getting a paper published is very time consuming and can often take more than a year.


The typical procedure to publish a scientific research paper. Flowchart adapted from information found on UC Berkley’s Understanding Science.

In contrast, Wellcome Open Research follows the F1000Research model which has a number of defining characteristics that distinguish it from the status quo. Arguably, the biggest difference is that the paper and its source data is officially published within a week of submission and indexed . This allows the paper to be immediately viewed and cited even before the peer review process has begun.

Subsequently, the responsibility is on the author to identify and recommend suitably qualified and knowledgeable peer reviewers. The identities of these reviewers and their comments on the published paper will be visible to the public, and the author is encouraged to republish the paper based on the feedback from the peer review. Additionally, data is published along with the paper in order to enable other scientists to re-analyse the collected data and open the opportunity to reproduce the study.

The F1000Research model, which Wellcome Open Research is based upon. Flowchart adapted from F1000research.

Challenges ahead

The inception of Wellcome Open Research is a clear indication of the Wellcome Trust’s desire to improve the landscape of biomedical research through a combination of rapid availability and open access of research papers. However, the elephant in the room is that of adoption.

Wellcome Open Research is itself a journal, and duplicate publications to other journals are not allowed. This leaves scientists looking to publish with a dilemma; should they go with more established journals or contribute to this new initiative in order to strengthen the feasibility of open access and quick publication?

Currently, only Wellcome Trust grantees will be allowed to submit publications to Wellcome Open Research, but only time will tell if scientists realise the value of such a system and if other journals decide to follow a similar model.

The Wellcome Foundation, founded by Sir Henry Wellcome in 1936, is an independent global charitable organization dedicated to improving health and is one of the world’s largest biomedical charities. More information about the organization can be found at https://wellcome.ac.uk

This article is part of Biotech Democratized, a new segment dedicated to highlighting innovations and teams working towards the advancement of open access biotech and healthcare technologies.

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