Main Content

Questions and answers

Open Access in general

What is the goal of Open Access?

Research results financed with public funds fundamentaly belong to the public good. They should be freely available to the public. Open Access aims to liberate access to research results and to promote collective knowledge. In today's world, digitalisation offers ideal conditions for making research findings accessible to a wide range of interested parties. In this way, Open Access can contribute to strengthening the innovative power and performance of Switzerland as a centre of business and research.


Is there a deadline for open access publication?

Yes, by 2024, all publicly funded scientific publications should be freely accessible on the internet. swissuniversities promotes this strategy and facilitates simple ways for researchers to publish their work via Open Access. This vision is set out in the national Open Access Strategy for Switzerland (version 29 November 2017).


What are the main advantages of Open Access?

  • Greater visibility and higher citation rates
  • Global access to research results
  • Further development of advancing research by researchers and promotion of research efficiency
  • Increasing added value for the promotion of Switzerland as an attractive business and research hub
  • Free public access to research for the public
  • Retention of the rights of use by the author
  • Promotion of international and interdisciplinary cooperation
  • Transparency and long-term availability of documents


What advantages do researchers have when they publish their work in Open Access?

Researchers can disseminate their findings more quickly and easily than previously. This increases the reach of their publications. The advantage is that they gain the attention and visibility their topics deserve more quickly. Furthermore, they also benefit from world-wide, immediate and free access to the research results of their colleagues.


What advantages do partners such as publishers or scientific journals have in supporting the Open Access strategy?

Open Access is a paradigm shift in the established system of scientific publishing. Anyone who supports the accelerated digital exchange of information as a partner (e.g. as a scientific publisher or journal) is part of the strategy to enable long-term, successful partnerships.


In Switzerland, the principle of freedom of publication applies. What about the exploitation rights?

Under Swiss law, freedom of publication applies in principle. Authors decide for themselves where they want to publish their research results. However, if research is conducted with public funds, the public interest in transparency and free access to publications must also be considered. For this reason, the SNSF requires grant recipients to make their publications publicly available in electronic form free of charge (open access obligation). This requirement is fulfilled if the research findings are published via the "Gold Road". Publication via the "Green Road" is also optionally accepted by the SNSF.

The copyright of scientific works is regulated by the Copyright Act. This law, together with the law on publishing contracts included in the Swiss Code of Obligations (OR), regulates the transfer of authors' rights to publishers who publish their scientific works. Contractual conditions between contracting parties determine which rights are transferred to the publisher, as well as the conditions and rules of use in each specific case. This concerns licenses and copyrights that are transferred from the author to the publisher. Unfortunately, Open Access often conflicts with current publishing practices. The SNSF recommends that its grant recipients exercise their right to OA status vis-à-vis the publishers. The SNSF also advocates that authors of scientific works be granted a statutory right of secondary publication, which in any case allows them to make their publicly funded research openly accessible.


What is swissuniversities' position on "predatory journals"?

Our position is in line with that of the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Predatory journals are pseudo professional journals that offer the publication of scientific articles for a fee, but do not provide the scientific and editorial quality assurance that one would expect from serious scientific journals. This type of journal is often referred to as a "predatory journal" and conducts several unethical business practices, such as:

  • Using fake impact factors;
  • Imitation of names and design of renowned trade journals;
  • General lack of transparency regarding quality control, fees, copyright, withdrawal and digital archiving;
  • Members of the editorial board do not exist, or the names of well-known researchers are used without their knowledge;
  • Sending spam e-mails promising implausibly fast publication, even though an elaborate peer review is to be carried out.

Publishing in abusive journals is highly problematic for several reasons. Foremost, publications in a predatory journal can damage one's own reputation or that of the institution. In addition, articles in predatory journals do not provide added value to researchers and research as such. They are only visible and identifiable to a limited extent, sometimes because these journals are not indexed by well-known citation and literature databases and because predatory journals do not guarantee long-term access to their articles. As a result, articles published there are rarely or not at all cited, have little use in practice and may ultimately be lost. Resources spent on this work are thus wasted.

Furthermore, articles in predatory journals are nevertheless publicly perceived research work, the scientific quality of which is assured. Each additional publication in these journals thus endangers the credibility of all published research and cultivates a general distrust in scientific publications.

The SNSF and swissuniversities therefore advise researchers to carefully consider where they publish their work. If there are doubts about the seriousness of a journal, we refer researchers to information sources such as the Directory of Open Access Journals or to checklists such as the Think Check Submit campaign.

Open Access Publication

What services does swissuniversities offer researchers in connection with Open Access?

In collaboration with the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), swissuniversities offers researchers practical and financial support for the Open Access publication of their work.


How can researchers publish their scientific articles?

Basically, there are two ways to publish:


The classical way (closed access)

Researchers publish their article in a traditional journal or their book with a publisher. After publication in closed access, the article is available to subscribers of a journal and the book can be purchased.


Open Access publishing

Today, there are two possible ways to make research results accessible worldwide: The so-called "Green Road" leads from the classical first publication (closed access) to secondary publication via Open Access, possibly after an embargo. The "Gold Road" publishes directly in Open Access.


What is the difference between the "Green Road" and the "Gold Road"?

The Green Road: Open Access as secondary publication

Researchers publish their article in a subscription journal or publish a book. After six months, at the latest, they file the article in a public database. For books, a period of 12 months applies. While there are no fees for this method, the embargo deadlines must be observed.


The Gold Road: Open Access as first publication

Researchers publish their articles directly in OA journals and as OA books. The advantage: the publications are freely accessible immediately. This route may entail publication fees. The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) covers the costs as part of its research grants. The universities bear costs within the scope of their publishing contracts and publication funds.


How does the publication on the Green Road actually work?

The seven steps to successful Green Road Open Access publication:

  1. Research results of publicly funded research;
  2. Submission of the manuscripts to the classical publishing house and peer review;
  3. Acceptance for publication;
  4. Transfer of copyright to publishers  ̶  authors retain the right to distribute a copy of the accepted manuscript via open access repositories;
  5. Potential temporary suspension;
  6. Open Access "secondary publication" after expiry of the embargo period and download by the public;
  7. Accelerated scientific progress and increased return on public investment thanks to Open Access.


How does the publication on the Gold Road actually work?

The seven steps to successful Gold Road Open Access publication:

  1. Research results of publicly funded research;
  2. Submission of manuscripts to the Open Access publisher and peer review;
  3. Acceptance for publication;
  4. The copyright remains with the author  ̶  granting the "licence to publish" to the Open Access publisher;
  5. Possible "publication fee" to cover publishing costs;
  6. Public reuse rights under open licences;
  7. Accelerated scientific progress and increased return on public investment thanks to Open Access.

I would like to publish a scientific paper in an Open Access journal. Is there a directory of OA journals?

Yes, the website "Directory of Open Access Journals" lists the quality-checked and peer-reviewed OA journals.


Where can I find repositories for the self-archiving of articles or books?

The best place to look is the Directory of Open Access Journals OA-Repositories. A list of quality-checked repositories can be found there.

Open Access FAQ od Swiss National Science Foundation

International Sources