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The Swiss National Strategy on Open Access and its Action Plan

A year ago, the action plan for the Swiss National Strategy on Open Access has been approved by the plenary assembly of swissuniversities and has been subsequently endorsed by the governing board of the Swiss University Conference. Swiss Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are the key players in the implementation process of the national strategy, so the aim of the action plan was to provide them with options and concrete solutions to achieve the objectives that came with adopting the strategy.

A powerful and unified approach

According to the “Vision 2024” underlying the national strategy, all scholarly publications resulting from publicly funded research must be freely available on the internet and, moreover, that all scholarly publications in Switzerland should be 100% Open Access within a landscape of mixed Open Access models by 2024. The proposed approaches to implement this vision have been formulated with respect to predefined guiding principles such as pursuing a powerful and unified approach while having complete cost transparency and cost neutrality in the long term. All stakeholders have to join forces in order to realize the objectives. This is especially important considering the decentralized education and research system of Switzerland.

National contract negotiations with the major publishers Springer Nature, Wiley and Elsevier under the auspices of swissuniversities are significant action items regarding a unified approach. The focus of the negotiation strategy will be on the “Read & Publish” model as a favoured negotiation approach with the goal to gain transparent pricing and greater accessibility to publications (see also the factsheet for details).

The “Vision 2024” can only be achieved with the support from the research community. An appropriate communication strategy has to be developed to effectively address the inherent challenges and opportunities. Researchers should be encouraged to publish their findings either green or gold Open Access. At the same time, new research evaluation and promotion systems have to be discussed and eventually find their way in coherent HEI policies. It is also imperative that the latest trends in scholarly publication as well as the emergence of new Open Access business models are monitored during the implementation phase of the strategy to allow for flexibility and being able to adapt the action plan accordingly.

“Know Your Numbers”

One fundamental pillar of the action plan is the national Open Access monitoring strategy. A monitoring strategy will define how to collect reliable data on the publication output of Swiss HEIs such that at least the amount of Open Access publications can at least be quantified and be made publicly available. Moreover, publication related costs should be tracked on an institutional level. Implementing a comprehensive Open Access monitoring strategy brings challenges for smaller institutions as well as for larger ones: e.g. adapting institutional accounting workflows or building suitable infrastructure. A dedicated working group led by the EPFL Library will start to conceptualize the monitoring strategy and address the challenges in the coming months.

With the action plan the Swiss HEIs have a viable and pragmatic guidance at hand to help them to implement the Swiss National Strategy on Open Access and its challenging vision. We will report on future developments as they arise.

Written by Daniel Gloor for the Swiss NOAD


Swiss National Strategy on Open Access

National Action Plan (available in German and French only)

Negotiation strategy

Financial flow analysis

Cambridge Economic Policy Associates Ltd. (2017, January 12). Financial Flows in Swiss Publishing. Zenodo.

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