Open access to publications: the SNSF supports Europe's Plan S

European and national research funders are expected to commit all researchers to granting open access to their publications as of 2020. The SNSF supports this "Plan S", which was published in Brussels today. However, it is not in a position to add its signature to the plan at present.

The European Commission and Science Europe, the association of national research and research funding organisations, are implementing Plan S in order to expedite structural change in the scientific publications sector. The aim is to make open access (OA) the standard in the European Research Area (ERA), including Switzerland, as of 2020.

A must for all resea​​rchers

What does this entail? As of 2020, all researchers who receive funding from a research funder should be obliged to publish their results in full (100%) directly in open access journals or on open access platforms. This will give readers free digital access to these publications at once. If there are any publication costs, these will be covered by the funders. They will set an upper limit for the costs and provide transparency.

How does this differ f​rom the SNSF's OA-2020 policy?

Eleven national funding organisations have already signed Plan S. Other national funding organisations as well as the European Research Council (ERC) and the European Commission have voiced their support for the plan, but not yet signed for legal and various other reasons.

The SNSF is one of these organisations. "We support Plan S, but cannot sign it at present," says Matthias Egger, the President of the SNSF Research Council. The reason: the SNSF introduced its open access policy 2020 in spring 2018. The aim of this policy is the same as that of the European Commission and Science Europe, namely open access to all publications as of 2020. However, in contrast to Plan S, the SNSF OA policy allows researchers to initially publish their results in a subscription journal and make them available on an OA platform at a later stage. This "green road" to open access is also included in the national open access strategy 2024 of the Swiss higher education institutions.

"We will now consult with the Swiss universities, the Academies of Sciences and other partners and decide if we should sign up at a later stage," says Matthias Egger. For the time being, the SNSF will continue to pursue its OA policy 2020 and accept the green road as a valid option.

​Benefits for science, the economy and society at la​rge

The SNSF fully endorses the principle of open access: "Research results financed with public money belong to the public," Matthias Egger stresses. "Being able to access and use these results free of charge and without delay is a huge benefit to science, the economy and society as a whole." The SNSF OA policy 2020 is making an important contribution towards achieving this goal.