Embargo periods: open letter to publishers

By 2020, all SNSF-funded publications should be freely accessible after six months at the latest. In an open letter, the SNSF has asked leading publishers to shorten their embargo periods.

Thirty per cent of all scientific publications produced in Switzerland benefit from SNSF funding. A large share of them are published by Elsevier, Springer Nature and Wiley. The SNSF values the important contribution these companies make to the dissemination of research results.

However, researchers are not able to make their articles published in these journals freely accessible to everyone within a reasonable time period. The reason lies in the embargo periods of twelve months or more set by these three publishers. The SNSF obliges its grant holders to make their articles available in an open access mode six months after initial publication. This duration is now the established international standard.

Win-win situation

Due to the long embargo periods, many researchers are not able to meet the SNSF's open access requirement. For this reason, the SNSF has sent an open letter to Elsevier, Springer Nature and Wiley, signed by Matthias Egger, the president of the National Research Council, and director Angelika Kalt. In the letter, they ask the publishers to limit their embargo periods to a maximum of six months for all of their journals. "This solution would create a win-win situation," they write in the name of the SNSF. "The research findings would continue to be published in your journals, and they would become available in open access mode within a reasonable period of time."

Striving for 100 per cent

For the SNSF, it goes without saying: research results financed with public funds belong to the public. In their letter to the publishers, Matthias Egger and Angelika Kalt write: "All research results (100%) from publicly funded projects must be available in an open access format. We are pursuing this goal in concert with all Swiss universities and numerous international research organisations." The full letter is available on the open access website of the SNSF.