Pushing for 100%: Stronger effort needed for open access publications

Researchers who receive SNSF funding should make their results freely available. But to date only around 50% of publications have been set to open access. From now on, the SNSF will systematically verify whether researchers are meeting the requirement.

For the SNSF it is self-evident that research results financed with public money belong to the public. This position is also well represented at international level. In autumn 2018, the European Commission and Science Europe, the association of national research and research funding organisations, presented their Plan S, which aims to make open access the default option.

The SNSF supports the aims put forward in Plan S, but will for the time being continue its 2020 strategy unchanged. "We are closely following developments and will adjust our strategy as of 2021 if necessary," said Matthias Egger, President of the National Research Council.

48% open access to date

The SNSF began asking SNSF-funded researchers to make their findings available free of charge in digital form quite some time ago. Their costs are covered by dedicated SNSF funding schemes. Analysis of 32,000 publications funded by an SNSF grant between 2014 and 2018 has shown that 48% of the publications are open access, 33% are not available at all online and 19% not in their latest and most relevant form. To reach the goal of 100% by 2020, both the researchers and the SNSF must increase their efforts.

Individual monitoring

With immediate effect, the SNSF will check whether researchers are meeting the open access requirement. "If the open access commitment is not being met, or in doubtful cases, we will write to the relevant grantees," said Matthias Egger. "Making publications available via the green road is often quite simple." Researchers who follow the green road initially publish their results in a journal that is subject to a fee, then upload them to a public database within six months. A deadline of twelve months applies to books.

Easy processing thanks to mySNF

Since autumn 2018, researchers have been able to submit applications for open access grants directly on the digital mySNF platform. This makes it even easier for them to get financial support. 250 grants for journal articles (article processing charges, APCs) and 120 for books (book processing charges, BPCs) have gone through mySNF so far.