Wellcome Trust Policy on Data, Software and Materials Management and Sharing

In July 2017, Wellcome published a new policy on managing and sharing research data, software and materials. This new policy replaces the Trust's long-standing policy on data management and sharing, extending requirements for research data to also cover original software and materials. Applicants will now be asked to provide an outputs management plan detailing how significant data, software or materials will be managed and shared.

For more information see Wellcome's Our new policy on sharing research data: what it means for you.

The policy recognises "that in addition to data outputs, many of our funded researchers generate original software and research materials, such as antibodies, cell lines or reagents. These are of significant value to other researchers and are crucial to anyone seeking to validate or replicate the research."


A summary of Wellcome Trust requirements for:

Data management plans

An 'outputs management plan' is required by anyone applying for Wellcome funding when the proposed research is likely to create significant research outputs, "generating data, software or materials that will hold clear value as a resource for others in academia or industry."

A plan does not need to be supplied by applicants to the Trust's Public Engagement schemes, but if funded "we expect you to make outputs of wider value available to potential users in a timely and appropriate manner."

The Trust does not does not specify a set format for plans, but provides guidance on what they should contain.

Help with costs

The Trust "will fund any justified costs for delivering the plan as part of funding the research". These dedicated costs should be outlined in the outputs management plan.

Data deposit and retention

As a minimum, all data and software underpinning published research findings should be made available from the time of publication, provided that this is consistent with any ethics approvals and consents that cover the data and any intellectual property rights in them.

Researchers should deposit data in recognised subject-specific repositories, where these exist. In fields where such repositories are not yet established, the Trust suggests data deposit in general community repositories (eg Dryad, Zenodo and FigShare).

Data should be kept for minimum of ten years, however, research data based on clinical samples or relating to public health might require longer storage to allow for long-term follow-up to occur.

"For software outputs, use a hosting solution that exposes them to the widest possible number of users."

The Trust suggests depositing research materials "in a recognised collection such as ECACC" or "licensing to a reputable life science business partner who can handle advertising, manufacture, storage and distribution".

Data access and sharing

Whilst the Trust expects researchers to "maximise the availability of research data, software and materials with as few restrictions as possible" it also recognises that... "for some research, delays or limits on data sharing may be necessary to safeguard research participants or to ensure you can gain IP protection."

Restrictions should be kept to a minimum and justified in the outputs management plan.

Data access statements

Whilst the policy makes no mention of data access statements, the Trust’s requirements for publishing Wellcome Trust-funded research papers [PDF] states "Wherever it is appropriate, all Wellcome Trust-funded publications must include a clear statement about how the data, models and other materials underpinning the publication can be accessed by researchers and other users."

See our guidance on Data access statements.

Compliance

Wellcome will "consider whether researchers have managed and shared their research outputs in line with our requirements, as a critical part of the end of grant reporting process". 

Policy last checked: August 2017

Further sources of help

Write a 'data management and sharing plan' for the Wellcome Trust using DMPonline

DMPonline, a web-based tool provided by the Digital Curation Centre (DCC), can help you create an effective plan that meets the requirements set by the Wellcome Trust.

To get started, first create an account, then sign in with your institutional credentials. After signing in, click on 'Create a plan' and select 'Wellcome Trust' when asked for your funder. For additional guidance in completing your plan, choose to see guidance from the University of York and from the DCC in the template provided.