Open Access in Switzerland

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The National Research Environment

Switzerland's academic research environment comprises:
Most of these institutions have jointly signed the Berlin Declaration in 2006 through their governing bodies:

In addition some Swiss research institutions have also signed the Berlin Declaration as single institution:

  • University of Zurich, 2004
  • Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich), 2006
  • Paul Scherrer Institut, 2006
  • University of St. Gallen, 2006
  • University of Basel, 2007
  • University of Bern, 2007
  • University of Fribourg, 2008
  • Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences (FORS), 2010
  • Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (EAWAG), 2012
  • École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), 2013
  • Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa), 2013
  • Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), 2013

Research Funding

The academic research institutions of Switzerland receive much of their financial support from the respective cantons and/or from the federal Swiss government.

Besides these sources, the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) is Switzerland's leading provider of scientific research funding. With its federal mandate, it supports basic research in all disciplines, from philosophy and biology to the nanosciences and medicine.

The SNSF (also co-signatory of the Berlin Declaration in 2006) requires grantees to provide open access to research results obtained with the help of SNSF grants (Article 44 Funding Regulations). While strongly supporting self-archiving in repositories, the SNSF also covers costs for Open Access publications via the project budget. For further information see:

Among other public research funders of Switzerland, the Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences (SAGW) supports the implementation of Open Access. The SAGW calls upon its member societies to obtain the necessary rights for their authors from the publishers. Several SAGW-sponsored journals are freely available.

Besides the SNSF, a few Swiss academic research institutions have installed Open Access mandates concerning scholarly publications by their researchers. Such institutional policies have been formulated by the University of BaselUniversity of Bern, the ETH Zurich, the University of Geneva, the University of St. Gallen, the University of Zurich and can be viewed in the Registry of Open Access Repositories Mandatory Archiving Policies (ROARMAP).   

Institutional Repositories for scientific publications

Repository Name Institution Website DRIVER OpenAIRE
Alexandria University of St. Gallen OA-Info no no
Archive ouvert UNIGE University of Geneva OA-Info no
University of Bern
ZHB Lucerne no no
edoc University of Basel OA-Info no no
ETH E-Collection ETH Zurich OA-Info yes no
Infoscience EPFL Lausanne OA-Info no no
MSF Field Research Médecins sans Frontières no no
RERO DOC Reseau Romand OA-Info no no
Serval University of Lausanne OA-Info no no
ZORA University of Zurich OA-Info yes yes

Open Access in Swiss Law

TheUniversity of Zurich commissioned an expert opinion on Open Access in Swiss law. The focus of interest is on questions of law related to what are known as repositories, i.e. internet servers that serve to make scientific publications available. In particular, the question arises of the extent to which publications that have already been published by scientific publishers are permitted to be deposited in repositories.

The expert opinion can be downloaded in English, French & German here. Answers to FAQs based on the expert opinion can be found here.

The results of the expert opinion are particulary useful to authors who have not concluded an agreement on copyright with their publisher upon publishing their work. In this case, according to Swiss Code of Obligations, Art. 382, Par. 3, authors are allowed by law to deposit journal articles, book chapters or conference papers on repositories three months after these works have been published in full. Provided the author has no other copyright agreement with the publisher, this paragraph applies also in the case of foreign publishers if the author’s place of residence and the repository are in Switzerland.

Open Access Journals in Switzerland

DOAJ lists more than 180 Open Access journals from Switzerland. The majority are published by MDPI AG (Basel) and Frontiers (Lausanne).
Further 160 retroactively digitized journals culturally based in Switzerland are freely accessible, usually with a moving wall, at This project is implemented by the Consortium of the Swiss Academic Libraries. The projects e-codices and focus on making digital reproductions with free access of old manuscripts and antique prints held by Swiss libraries. They are sponsored by the Swiss universities.

Research Data

In 2008 a national study, commissioned by the Swiss universities through their academic libraries, was published entitled: "Development of a model for a central long-term preservation of digital primary and secondary research data" (German/French). The results included a design with two models for a centrally managed long-term preservation of digital primary and secondary data for Swiss universities, the Swiss research centres and university libraries. Based on these models a survey was conducted in 2010 directly addressing heads of institutes of all Swiss universities. The survey clearly demonstrated the need for a better infrastructure for research data. But it also showed a great variety about the level these issues have to be adressed. While some prefer a national or institutional solution, others are more interested in an international subject specific solution. Due to this unclear situation further investigations towards a national approach for management and preservation of research data did not continue. Rather, some Swiss research institutions such as the ETH Zurich conduct individual projects regarding research data management and preservation.

Useful Links

Contact for Switzerland

  • Christian Fuhrer & André Hoffmann, University of Zurich