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Wellcome Open Research: rethinking research publishing, accelerating impact

In case you missed it, Wellcome Open Research launched in November. Here at F1000 we are really excited to see the interest, support and use of this new publishing outlet across the research community.

So what is Wellcome Open Research? 

Wellcome Open Research is a platform for publishing all findings and scholarly output that researchers wish to share (and not just those that a journal chooses to publish). The aim of this platform is to accelerate access to research findings whilst removing many of the barriers that researchers usually face when thinking about sharing their results.

How does it work?

This platform, owned by Wellcome and run by F1000, gives researchers (who are funded or co-funded by Wellcome) the control over what findings are shared and enables them to publish a wide variety of article types, from method pieces to clinical trials and systematic reviews. The platform uses the same publishing model as has been run on F1000Research for the past 4 years. Articles are immediately published open access, and then go through a quality assurance process via independent and invited peer review, regardless of perceived levels of interest or novelty. This peer review process is transparent, meaning that you can see the names and affiliations of the reviewers as well as view the referee report/peer review status, and authors can respond to reviews by publishing revised versions and/or commenting on referee reports. All articles that pass peer review are then indexed in PubMed and other databases.

What are the expected benefits?

Currently, researchers strive to publish their work in the highest impact journal available to them, which can delay or even prevent publication of findings.  This can present particular problems for early career researchers who are more likely to leave academia if they can’t publish ‘well’. 

Many funding agencies have signed up to the Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) stating that research outputs are assessed according to their intrinsic value rather than by the journals they are published in but little has changed in reality – we hope that this platform provides the infrastructure required to instigate this change. The use of post-publication peer review also changes the role of a reviewer from helping a journal Editor decide what to accept/reject to focusing on aiding the author improve their work, which can only benefit science and collaboration. Overall, this will significantly speed up the sharing of new findings and hence scientific progress, and help to address the current publication bias towards more positive results, whilst reducing research waste. The ability to submit full methodologies together with the requirement for the underlying data will also help to combat the challenges of reproducing key research findings.

The platform is centrally funded by Wellcome meaning that Wellcome-funded researchers can publish without direct cost to them and all publications are immediately open access. This simplifies funding open access requirements and enables efficient publication of research.

The longer term destination

We anticipate that the journey to open research will be similar to that of Open Access, where the role of Wellcome and many of the UK’s medical research charities were a crucial driving force.  We expect that funders will ultimately require grant holders to publish the outputs of their funding in more rapid and open ways, something which is already being encouraged across the EU.

This journey will require publishers to adapt and work alongside researchers, institutions and funders to provide technology and expertise in review, quality assurance and analytics. We ultimately hope that this will be the start of a shift in sharing findings to maximise the benefit of new research for all.

Authors: Rebecca Lawrence, Managing Director, F1000; Liz Allen, Director of Strategic Initiatives, F1000