A month of Wellcome Open Research

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A review of the first month of Wellcome Open Research by Michael Markie, Publisher, F1000, and Robert Kiley, Head of Digital Services, Wellcome.

It’s been just over a month since we launched Wellcome Open Research, and already we are seeing researchers embrace the opportunities that the platform presents to enable them to share their work openly and without delay. The first set of articles published are a testament to the initial goals we set ourselves: making research outputs available faster while supporting reproducibility and transparency.

The story so far (you can also view as a PDF here):


At the time of writing we have published 31 papers from 232 authors who represent 62 institutions – including Wellcome research centres and institutes and major overseas programmes  – covering 17 different countries. The demographic of authors spans a wide breadth of career stages ranging from Masters students all the way to Senior Investigators.

As we are keen to enhance the impact of our authors’ work, we are using our blog for researchers to tell their own story about their research and why they chose to publish on the platform. For example, we have highlighted two Postdoctoral Fellows, María Rodríguez-López and Cristina Cotobal from University College London, who describe their new CRISPR/Cas9-based protocol and primer design tool. We also recently featured Charles Bangham, Head of the Division of Infectious Diseases, Imperial College London, who describes his article on the association of free serum haemoglobin with brain atrophy in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis and also his positive experience using the platform:

 “I would strongly encourage other Wellcome grant-holders to publish on Wellcome Open Research. I think it has real potential to improve the standard, speed and fairness of scientific publishing.”

Charles Bangham, Imperial College London


There are currently 31 published articles on Wellcome Open Research. These cover a wide range of subject areas, including cell biology, genetics and genomics, infectious diseases, public health and science education. So far, the articles have attracted considerable attention with nearly 12,000 views and over 1000 downloads.  These metrics are further enriched by Altmetric data which shows the level of community engagement through Twitter, news outlets and other services.

The published research also covers a range of article types from the traditional “research article” through to study protocols and data notes.  In total the breakdown of publications by article type is as follows:

  • 10 research articles
  • 8 method articles
  • 4 research notes (shorter articles with a few descriptive figures/tables)
  • 3 data notes (descriptions of datasets that include details of why and how the data were created)
  • 3 software tool articles
  • 3 study protocols

As the platform requires that the source data underlying the results are made available the published articles make clear where these data and code can be accessed.  An analysis of the data and software availability statements – a mandatory piece of metadata for all articles – reveals that there are 41 open datasets in public repositories such as FigShare and the Open Science Framework, 15 datasets available in established, field-specific repositories such as the ENA, Genbank, NCBI GEO and PRIDE, and seven cases of software source code being made permanently available in Zenodo. Making the data and software code available enables readers and users to reanalyze, replicate and reuse the data from each article.

Peer Review

At the time of writing there are 44 open peer review reports online which have been collectively viewed 904 times. Reviews are accompanied by the reviewers’ names and are individually citable as they all receive a DOI. Reviewers for Wellcome Open Research are also taking up the option to add their reports directly to their ORCID account to show a record of their report and enable them to get credit for their time and expertise:


Peer-review displayed on an ORCID account

The most impressive aspect of the peer review so far is the speed. The median time to the first referee report for an article is 8.5 days and the median time for two referee reports is 16 days; this is remarkably quick compared to the traditional peer review system.


Wellcome Open Research is centrally funded by Wellcome, so authors do not have to deal with any article processing charges (APCs); the costs are automatically covered allowing authors to quickly and efficiently submit their research without this burden.

We also know that most research is the result of collaboration and funded from multiple sources; just over half of the articles published on the platform include non-Wellcome funding information. Linking funding information directly to research outputs helps to improve grant-related impact tracking; these funding data are important pieces of an article’s meta-data and are deposited with CrossRef.

All in all, it’s been a hugely positive start. We hope to continue with this success next year with more Wellcome-funded researchers seeking to benefit from the platform to share their work in an open and reproducible way. There will also be some exciting new features added to the platform in 2017, so to be kept abreast about these new developments please do sign up for more information via the Wellcome Open Research homepage.

Happy Holidays.

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