Petition "Swiss academic publishing in danger!": the SNSF clarifies


Das Foto zeigt eine Fotomontage mit einem iPad und darin versinkenden Büchern. © Fotolia

Swiss publishers in the humanities and social sciences have started a petition against the new publication funding scheme of the SNSF. The SNSF has taken note of the criticism with regard to the changes and wishes to state its position and explain individual aspects of the new approach.

On 1 July 2014, the new publication funding of the SNSF, which focuses on digital publishing and open access, will come into force. By promoting digital book publications and open access, it is possible to increase the visibility and distribution of research results significantly.


Below, the SNSF will clarify a number of points raised in the petition.


In the context of two meetings on 29 January and 3 March 2014, the SNSF listened to the concerns of Swiss academic publishers regarding the new publication funding. The publishers welcomed the new approach and were open for models involving open access. The requests of the publishers were taken account of, inasmuch as they were compatible with the funding principles of the SNSF: the embargo period for SNSF-funded monographs was extended to 24 months and publisher's services are now remunerated with CHF 3000. As SNSF-funded publications are financed by public money, the SNSF was not in a position to meet all the demands made by the publishers.

Continued support for book publications

In 2013, the SNSF funded 134 academic book publications to the tune of approximately CHF 1.6 million. By doing this, the SNSF is providing subsidiary support for the production costs. As far as book publications are concerned, the SNSF will continue to award grants covering the costs of typesetting, layout, image rights and image processing. Hence, the costs of proofreading and digitisation are also included in the eligible costs. The SNSF thus contributes to the costs at the pre-printing stage and this translates into support for the production of printed books. In the new scheme, authors are obliged to make the digital version accessible in a disciplinary or institutional repository (green road of open access) after 24 months at the latest. In the event of insurmountable legal or technical obstacles, the SNSF may grant exceptions. All researchers receiving SNSF funding are obliged to comply with this green road. If the SNSF does not award any publication grants, the researchers are free to choose publications not released for open access and to inform the SNSF accordingly.


SNSF publication grants will not be calculated on the basis of lowered tariffs and will not be halved as stated in the petition. What is new is that maximum amounts have been set. An analysis of SNSF publication funding up until now showed that 90% of grants awarded in the past five years were below the new maximum amount of CHF 20,000. Moreover, 56% were even below CHF 10,000. The SNSF will continue to support publications in the humanities and social sciences to the same extent.

Clear mandate in the service level agreement

The SNSF recognises the role of publishers in the humanities and social sciences to make publications known to a broader public. In its service level agreement 2013-2016 with the Confederation, the SNSF has pledged to make scientific publications available without delay, around the world and free of charge, as far as possible. The mandate of the SNSF is limited to promoting public access and dissemination of research results. Support for publishers as such is not envisaged. 

Division Humanities and Social Sciences
Regula Graf