New publication funding model: the SNSF makes specific adjustments

This picture shows a photoshopped image of books protruding from an iPad. © Fotolia

Based on feedback from the scientific community and further discussions with representatives of academic publishers, the SNSF has again reviewed its new publication funding model and adjusted it in certain points. It now envisages slightly higher financial contributions for guaranteed publisher services and a pilot project with the publishers.

Research funded by the public should be publicly accessible as far as possible and, what is more, free of charge - based on this principle, the SNSF has reorganised its funding policy with regard to publications with a view to increasing digital dissemination and open access. It enters into force on 1 July 2014.

Compared to printed books, digital book publications are more rapidly accessible and can be disseminated more widely. With its new funding model, the SNSF is therefore asking publishers to allow open access after a specified period of time, i.e. to make the publication publicly accessible free of charge. With these changes, the SNSF is matching the current funding policies of other European research funders.

The SNSF has received numerous positive responses from the research community with regard to its new publication funding model, along with more critical feedback, mainly from the humanities. The latter feared, in particular, that the new model would make it more difficult to have scientific books printed. In addition, publishing houses in the humanities and social sciences felt that it threatened their core task.

"The printed book has great value"

In order to clarify its stance on open access and publication funding in detail and take up the publishers' concerns again, the SNSF held a third meeting with representatives of scientific publishing houses, the executive management of the Swiss Booksellers and Publishers Association (SBVV) and the Association Suisse des Diffuseurs, Editeurs et Libraires (ASDEL). In this context, President of the Research Council Martin Vetterli emphasised that the SNSF still regarded the printed scientific book as a valuable medium for transferring and disseminating knowledge. The SNSF would continue to let researchers freely choose the best format for their publication. It would also continue to offer the necessary support in this regard by making a significant contribution towards the costs at the pre-printing stage as well as the publishers' services, and by enabling researchers to make the most of the increasingly diverse media channels.

Higher grants and lump sums for guaranteed services

The clarifications provided at the meeting almost entirely allayed the fears of the publishers present. With the slightly increased grants and lump sums for publications (see below), the SNSF aims to, in particular, accommodate the interests and needs of the humanities: this widens the publishers' financial scope, thereby improving conditions for the production of a print version of the publication. In doing so, the SNSF wishes to promote the combined use of the printed and the electronic book where such use makes sense. In return for the increased grants, the publishers are obliged to guarantee their services (e.g. proofreading) in their agreement with the authors.

Furthermore, the SNSF agrees with the publishers that a national platform for professional humanities and social sciences books would be desirable. It will take up this idea with the Swiss University Council (SUC).

The SNSF stood by its overall open access policy (see Research policies: open access) as well as by the non-financing of pure printing costs and the open access embargo period of 24 months for monographs, which it continues to consider appropriate compared to other countries.

Pilot project: simultaneous printed book and open access

In order to provide forward-looking support to publishing houses in the humanities and social sciences, the SNSF wishes to carry out a pilot project together with interested publishers: this will include testing the parallel publication of printed books and their digital versions using different open access models. The Dutch OAPEN-NL model will serve as a basis, creating an important data base with regard to the use, sale and costs of e-books and printed books.

Towards the end of 2015, the SNSF will engage in monitoring its publication funding measures.

Grants and lump sums in the new publication funding model

Within the scope of its publication funding, which will enter into force on 1 July 2014, the SNSF has fixed the grants and lump sums as follows:

  • The SNSF covers the publisher's services with an amount of CHF 5,000 (basic grant), provided the services are set out in a binding agreement between the publisher and the author.
  • The lump sum for doctoral theses and habilitations has been fixed at CHF 8,000; if this lump sum is not sufficient to cover the production costs, additional support may be requested.
  • The maximum grant for a basic digital book publication amounts to CHF 12,000, for an enriched digital book publication to CHF 22,000; the latter may be increased without a fixed ceiling in response to a corresponding request showing that production is subject to higher requirements.

For monographs, the embargo period with regard to open access is 24 months.