SNSF joins cOAlition S – immediate Open Access to scientific articles

A coalition of research funders has been advocating for free, unrestricted access to publications since 2018. The SNSF is now joining them and adapting its Open Access requirements.

Instead of languishing behind paywalls, research findings ought to have a broad impact across science, industry and society. Since 2008, all researchers supported by the SNSF have been obliged to publish their scientific articles in an Open Access (OA) format after six months at the latest.

Joining forces to achieve OA goals

The SNSF has now decided to join cOAlition S, the largest international initiative of research funders aimed at achieving Open Access. "Research thrives on collaboration. And by joining forces we research funders can also best achieve our shared goals, including open access to scholarly articles," says Research Council president Matthias Egger. "cOAlition S has shown that it can drive this structural change."

As a member of Coalition S, the SNSF will implement what is known as Plan S. This means that researchers must now make their articles freely available immediately – and not only after an embargo period of six months, as is currently the case. The OA commitment can still be met by self-archiving the manuscript. An embargo period of twelve months remains permissible for books and book chapters.

In addition, as a standard feature for articles, the SNSF plans to introduce the CC-BY licence, which both protects the interests of researchers as the authors of their works and enables broad use.

Onwards to 100%

By joining the coalition, the SNSF is continuing to systematically pursue its 100% OA goal. The numbers show that the strategy is working, although the goal has not yet been fully achieved: the OA share of new publications from SNSF-funded research increased from 39% in 2015 to 63% in 2020. Another 19% are freely accessible as pre-prints or without clear usage rights. 18% are still not freely available.

But it's not just about numbers. "We don't just want to achieve 100% open access. Publications must first and foremost advance research," says Matthias Egger. "Content quality and good peer review are also critical. We want to work together on these kinds of issues in cOAlition S as well."

The SNSF makes it easy for researchers to fulfil their OA commitment. It pays the fees for articles in OA-only journals. And researchers can administer these costs via the platform of the service provider ChronosHub, which significantly reduces the effort involved.

Not before January 2023

The new OA requirements will come into force on 1 January 2023 at the earliest. They will apply to all projects receiving funding from that date. By then, the details will have been clarified and the relevant regulations amended. In the meantime, researchers will find a useful resource in the SNSF Open Access Check: with the help of this tool, they can quickly determine which of their previous publications are not yet freely accessible.

Milestones on the road to open access

2003: The Berlin Declaration lays one of the cornerstones of the Open Access movement.

2008: The SNSF obliges researchers to make their scientific publications freely accessible.

2017: The SNSF adopts completely revised OA regulations and covers the fees for articles, books and book chapters. Switzerland adopts a national Open Access strategy.

2018: Plan S is published and cOAlition S is formed. In order to continue pursuing its revised OA strategy for the time being, the SNSF does not join straight away.

2021: The EU's Horizon Europe research framework programme makes immediate open access a requirement.

2022: The SNSF joins cOAlition S as its 27th member organisation.