Last updated on 
Mar 22, 2022

National Open Access Desk

University of Zurich
  • Overview

    According to the EC’s Open Science monitor based on Scopus and Unpaywall data, Switzerland holds a top position for the percentage of OA publications. As the very high proportion of green OA shows, this seems to be due to a well-developed network of OA repositories and support teams at most research institutions.

    The academic research institutions of Switzerland receive much of their financial support either from the respective cantons and/or from the federal Swiss government (State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation - SERI). As a result of these federal dependencies, national policies and guidelines have not been implemented in the past. However, a national Open Access strategy and an action plan adopted in 2017 help to align the different approaches.

    national overview

    Support and Landscape

    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 a 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
      • Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, 2015
      • University of Lucerne, 2015

    national landscape

    National Initiatives

    Open Access in Swiss Law

    The University 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.
    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.

    Research Data Management

    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 centers 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 addressed. 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 conducted individual projects regarding research data management and preservation.
    The situation changed in 2014 with the development of the SUC P-2 “Scientific information: access, processing and safeguarding”. It is the second of ten ongoing funding programs operated by the Swiss University Conference (SUC, now swissuniversities). The program’s objective is to combine and develop the universities’ currently separate efforts to provide and process scientific information. The aim is to establish a reorganized system by the year 2020 that will provide researchers, teachers and students with an extensive basic range of science-related digital content and the ideal tools for processing it. These services should be stable, flexible, competitive, and available on a national level. Through targeted funding, the program initiates and controls the development of this range of services and ensures their sustainable operation. The Rectors’ Conference of the Swiss Universities (CRUS, now siwssuniversities) has been tasked with carrying out the program.
    The Data Life-Cycle Management (DLCM) project was initiated in the P-2 framework in 2015. Following the whole data life-cycle, researchers are being confronted with a rapidly increasing amount of data. Moreover, new directives in research data management were introduced by funding agencies and publishers. The project involved eight partner institutions that combined their efforts to provide services and support for data management planning, analysis and long-term preservation storage for the whole Swiss research community.
    Several projects concerning research data infrastructure are currently conducted by collaborating HEIs under the auspices of the swissuniversities P-5 “Scientific information” program (successor of the SUC P-2 program): https://www.swissuniversities.ch/en/organisation/projects-and-programmes/p-5/

  • Open Science Policy

    National Policy

    In a letter dated 4 December 2015, the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (hereinafter SERI) commissioned swissuniversities (the association of Swiss Higher Education Institutions) to elaborate, with the support of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), a national strategy for Open Access to publications (hereinafter OA). This national OA strategy was formulated by a representative working group led by swissuniversities and was adopted by the plenary assembly of swissuniversities on 31 January 2017.

    The Open Access Strategy contains the vision that all publicly funded publications must be freely accessible until 2024. In general, it is desirable that all scientific publications in Switzerland should be available for Open Access by 2024. This vision is based on the current European models. In order to implement this vision, various fields of action have been defined with the aim of reconciling Open Access practices in Switzerland, strengthening negotiations with publishers and the incentives for researchers, as well as examining new types of publications and platforms.
    In February 2018, the Plenary Assembly of swissuniversities approved this action plan and the University Council of the Swiss University Conference approved it.
    Implementation will now begin under the coordination of swissuniversities, taking into account the autonomy of the universities. The national Open Access Strategy serves as a fundamental instrument for managing the transformation process and optimising the use of resources.

    national policy

    Funder policy

    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 nanoscience 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). As of 1 October 2013, researchers receiving SNSF funding can cover the costs of publishing articles in pure OA journals via the project budget. As of October 2018, APCs and BCPCs can be requested from a central OA fund (currently with no cap).
    As of July 2014, the SNSF is expanding its OA policy to include monographs and editions. This corresponds to the rules applying to the publication of journal articles.
    As of October 2017, the SNSF introduced an Open Research Data policy in its project funding scheme. Researchers have to include a data management plan (DMP) in their funding application and the SNSF expects that data generated by funded projects will be publicly accessible in digital databases provided there are no legal, ethical, copyright or other issues.
    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.

    The SNSF supports the principles of "Plan S". However, due to its own Open Access (OA-2020) policy, the SNSF is currently not in a position to sign "Plan S". According to an SNSF spokesman, this circumstance will be re-evaluated in 2020.

    funder policy

    Institutional Policy

    Besides the SNSF, several Swiss academic research institutions have installed Open Access mandates concerning scholarly publications by their researchers. Additionally, the national action plan envisaged the creation of recommendations for the remaining Swiss higher education institutions. The Swiss Library Network for Education and Research (SLiNER) has drawn up a set of guidelines. The document is intended to help develop Open Access policies. It also provides an opportunity to check and discuss policies that have already been introduced. The adherence of the individual policies to joint principles based on international standards will ensure that Open Access is implemented consistently across all institutions, funding organisations and publishing houses. Institutional policies can be viewed in the Registry of Open Access Repositories Mandatory Archiving Policies (ROARMAP).

    institutional policy

  • Infrastructure & EOSC

    Key networks & Aggregators


    Alexandria University of St. Gallen OA-Info
    Archive ouverte UNIGE University of Geneva OA-Info
    BORIS University of Bern OA-Info
    LORY Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, University of Lucerne,
    University of Teacher Education Lucerne, ZHB Lucerne
    edoc University of Basel OA-Info
    Research Collection ETH Zurich OA-Info
    Infoscience EPFL Lausanne OA-Info
    MSF Field Research Médecins sans Frontières OA-Info
    RERO DOC Reseau Romand OA-Info
    Serval University of Lausanne OA-Info
    ZORA University of Zurich OA-Info


    Find a complete list on DOAR, here.

    national infra

    Data repositories

    National publishing initiatives

    National agreements with publishers

    National agreements concerning Open Access have recently been introduced in Switzerland. To achieve this vision of the national Open Access strategy, swissuniversities and higher education institutions, research institutions, research funders and science policy-makers agreed to start negotiations with publishers as part of the National Open Access Strategy in 2019.

    Negotiations should comprise a variety of models such as Green OA clauses in licences, memberships with Open Access publishers and offsetting agreements including big deals with OA components. An exit option should be in place in case the negotiations fail. Although offsetting agreements strengthen the position of existing large publishers by extending their role into the world of OA, the agreements are deemed a necessary transitional measure.

    To lead these negotiations an existing and experienced body such as the CSAL (Consortium of Swiss Academic Libraries) was complemented by leaders from higher education institutions provided with the necessary resources and political support.

    The status of the negotiations can be found here: https://www.swissuniversities.ch/en/topics/digitalisation/open-access/publisher-negotiations

    OA books

    Book publications co-financed by the SNSF must be made accessible in a disciplinary or institutional repository after an embargo period of no more than 24 months. The SNSF will contribute lump sums towards the production costs of a digital publication.
    In doing so, the SNSF is matching the current funding policies of other European research funders. For further information see: SNSF Open Access Policy.

  • Training & Support

    The DLCM project offers training expertise and contact points across Switzerland in research data management: https://www.dlcm.ch/services/dlcm-training

  • Statistics

    View Statistics in the country page of Open Science Observatory

  • News

    The Swiss National Strategy on Open Access and its Action Plan
    15 Feb 2019

    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...

    Swiss Research Data Day 2018
    15 Jun 2018

    Swiss Research Data Day 2018

    The Swiss Research Data Day on 12 June 2018 at ETH Zurich was organised by the Swiss research data management project DLCM and supported by the OpenAIRE2020 NOAD in Switzerland. There has been a data deluge in the research sector in recent years, accompanied by an increasing tendency to allow the scientific community access to original research data and the procedures used in order to enable study...

    As of 2020: 100% Open Access to SNSF-funded research in Switzerland
    18 Dec 2017

    As of 2020: 100% Open Access to SNSF-funded research in Switzerland

    Based on a decision by the National Research Council, all publications produced in SNSF-funded projects are to be freely available in digital format as of 2020. "Research findings funded by public money are a public good," says Matthias Egger, the President of the National Research Council. Open Access is quickly becoming the accepted standard in science. Until now, less than 50% of the publicatio...

    Swiss Open Access Strategy: Towards the Unrestricted Publication of Research Outputs
    9 Feb 2017

    Swiss Open Access Strategy: Towards the Unrestricted Publication of Research Outputs

    At its plenary assembly on Tuesday, 31 January 2017, the Rectors’ Conference of Swiss Higher Education Institutions, adopted a national Open Access Stategy. The strategy aims to provide public access to research publications via the Internet or via open databases as soon as possible. Currently, access to most research outputs is restricted by the terms and conditions of commercial publishers. Comm...

    Swiss Research Data Management Day 2016
    7 Dec 2016

    Swiss Research Data Management Day 2016

    On November 29th 2016 the Swiss RDM Day took place at Rolex Learning Center, École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). The national workshop for 150 participants was jointly organised by OpenAIRE, the national project Data Life-Cycle Management (DLCM) and its partners (EPFL, ETH Zürich, HES-SO - HEG, University of Basel, University of Zurich, Université de Lausanne and SWITCH). The event pr...

    Open-Access-Tage 2015
    8 Oct 2015

    Open-Access-Tage 2015

    Open-Access-Tage 2015 (Open Access Days 2015) took place 7-8 September in Zurich, Switzerland. The conference highlighted that Open Access (OA) and Open Science (OS) now reach a multitude of stakeholders, though each are impacted at different levels and in various forms. This diversity of knowledge and requirements increasingly requires information exchange and coordination. In Switzerland, there ...

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OpenAIRE has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under Grant Agreements No. 777541 and 101017452 (see all).

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