In Switzerland, Open Access is promoted on various levels including OA requirements of individual universities and funders (Swiss National Science Foundation, SNSF), OA repositories, digitization of Swiss journals and library archives, and OA publishers. Increasingly, universities plan to collaborate at national level to foster different aspects of Open Access including research data.

Swiss universities now universally have access to either their own repository or a shared repository such as réro doc. The OpenAIRE/CERN repository ZENODO contains documents and research data for which an institutional or subject-based repository is not available.

There are 17 electronic repositories listed in OpenDOAR and DOAJ indexes 225 Swiss OA journals distributed by major OA publishers such as Frontiers.

On 2 April 2015CERN and Elsevier announced that articles published by CERN authors Elsevier Physics journals that are not covered by the SCOAP3 Open Access initiative will now be Open Access. Thanks to this agreement, CERN results in fields such as nuclear physics, instrumentation, astroparticle physics and scientific computing will appear as Open Access articles, with copyright retained by CERN and its authors, and reuse determined by Creative Commons CC-BY licenses. This allows CERN to progress further towards its stated target of 100% ‘gold’ Open Access for all of its physics results as of 2015. This new agreement covers all articles with at least one author affiliated to CERN, published in 2015 and 2016 in the Elsevier journals: Nuclear Instruments and Methods A (link is external), Nuclear Physics A (link is external), Physics of the Dark Universe (link is external) and SoftwareX (link is external). These conditions have also been retroactively extended to eligible articles that were published in 2014 in the same journals. CERN and Elsevier, together with a consortium of thousands of libraries from all over the world, are already successfully cooperating in the SCOAP3 initiative (link is external), a separate agreement that has converted important scientific journals such as Elsevier’s Physics Letters B (link is external) and Nuclear Physics B (link is external) to Open Access at no cost for any author worldwide.

Enabling Environment:

The Berlin Declaration has been signed by 12 Swiss research institutions and by 4 academic governing bodies including the Rector's Conference of the Swiss Universities (CRUS), the Conference of the Swiss Universities of Applied Sciences (KFH), the Swiss Conference of Schools for Teacher Education (SKPH) and the Council of the Swiss Scientific Academies (CASS).

The SNSF pursues an OA requirement and allows recipients to plan and use grant funds for OA author fees. Frontiers and MDPI are major OA publishers. Switzerland participates in European projects such as OpenAIREplus. 

Potential Barriers:

  • There is no integrated national approach, strategy or funding to deal with Open Access. OA only started recently to become a topic in research politics (see SUC program below) and was so far largely the responsibility of individual research institutions.
  • Consequently, the level of OA implementation varies greatly from one institution to another.
  • Overall insufficient awareness of OA among individual researchers.
  • Funding of OA publication fees is lagging behind and in many cases up to individual researchers.

Major Projects/Initiatives:

Open Access Week is an important and continuous opportunity to inform about Open Access. Especially, the Universities of Fribourg and Zurich as well as EPFL and ETH Zurich make regular efforts to contribute to the ongoing dialogue on Open Access. 

The OAI conference series on Open Access is hosted by University of Geneva and CERN. It is well known, organized by an international committee, and an important source for advocacy and the awareness of Open Access in Switzerland and worldwide. The latest conference, OAI8, took place in Geneva in 2013.

OKcon, the Open Knowledge Conference, in Geneva 2013 further fostered the spirit and the practical implications of Open Science. It marked the launch of the Swiss platform for Open Governmental Data. In the meantime it is being discussed if open research data might be included on the portal in the future.

The Rector's Conference of the Swiss Universities (CRUS) is finalizing its strategy for the Swiss University Conference (SUC) program P-2 “Scientific information: access, processing and safeguarding” 

The focus of this planned e-science program is to provide researchers, teachers and students at Swiss higher education institutions with an optimal environment for the use (search, consultation, processing, visualization, storage, dissemination, sharing, reuse) of all forms of scientific information needed for their work. Open Access is a part of this program. 

Currently 160 retroactively digitized journals culturally based in Switzerland are freely accessible, usually with a moving wall, at retrodigitised journals. The projects e-codices, e-rara and e-manuscripta focus on making digital reproductions with free access of old manuscripts and antique prints held by Swiss libraries. Projects are part of E-lib.ch, a program of Swiss academic libraries sponsored by CRUS and SUC.

The Concortium of Swiss Academic Libraries negotiates Green Open Access in their licencing negotiations with publishers.

The informal Swiss Working Group Open Access brings together OA advocates, mostly from academic libraries. It coordinated the input on Open Access for the national SUC P-2 e-science program mentioned above. 

National and Institutional Level Policies/Mandates:

SNSF, the major research funder in Switzerland, has an OA mandate, requiring deposit of research results in repositories or publication in OA journals. The Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences strongly recommends OA to its members.

Of the 16 universities (including national research institutes) that exist in Switzerland, 6 have OA requirements. In other universities, deposit in repositories is strongly encouraged. In all cases, the Green or Gold Road are possible.

As of May 2015, there are 8 OA policies registered in ROARMAP. In SHERPA/JULIET 2 funders' OA mandates are registered, these being from  SAGW and SNF.

In April 2014, Frontiers was officially launched at USA Engineering Festival.

In Winter 2014, Frontiers Jacobs Foundation support was announced.

Details of Key Organizations:

Thematic Open Access projects/Initiatives

The Novartis Repository, OAK Open Archive holds published research output of Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research (NIBR) and Novartis Corporate Research available for Open Access.

ZENODO is a repository service that enables researchers, scientists, projects and institutions to share and showcase multidisciplinary research results (data and publications) that are not part of existing institutional or subject-based repositories. It was launched by the project OpenAIRE and is hosted at CERN.

Past and Future OA Related Activities:

  • 23-24 January 2014- WIPO Conference on Open Innovation: Collaborative Projects and the Future of Knowledge.
  • 14 January 2014- " Perspectives in Understanding Open Access to Research Data- Infrastructure and Technology Challenges", Geneva, Switzerland.
  • 4-6 June 2014- "The Openness Paradigm: How Synergies Between Open Access, Open Data, Open Science, Open Source Hardware, Open Drug Discovery Support Development?" Lausanne, Switzerland.
  • The OAI Conference Series on Open Access is hosted by University of Geneva and CERN. The latest conference, OA18 took place in Geneva in 2013.
  • OKcon, the OpenKnowledge Conference, 2013  marked the launch of the Swiss platform for Open Governmental Data.
  • 2013 OA week events were held at ETH Zurich and University of Fribourg among others.
  • 2010 and 2011 OA week events were held at the University of Fribourg in partnership with the Fribourg County Library. Other universities such as Zürich have also been active during OA Week.

Open Science and Open Data Related Events

March 2016: Gathering for Open Science Hardware: GOSH 2016

List of Publications

Accart, J. P. E. (2006). SwissInfoDesk: The virtual reference desk project of the Swiss National Library. New Library World, 107(5/6), 228-237. Doi:10.1108/03074800610665220

Buerli, S and Kleiner, B (2009) Supporting an open access research culture: findings of a national survey of social science researchers. Fors: Lausanne.

Feist, A (2009). Providing access and improving national cooperation: contemporary libraries and librarianship in Switzerland. Library Student Journal Vol 4, 2009.

Fuhrer, Christian (2009). ZORA: Open Access at the University of Zurich. arbido: 37 (2009) pp. 22-25. 10.5281/zenodo.7074

Hilty, R.M. and Seeburg, M (2009) Open Access – Access to scientific publications in Swiss law: expert opinion commissioned by the University of Zurich. University of Zurich: Zurich, Switzerland.

Imboden, Dieter (2009). Scientific Publishing: the Dilemma of Research Funding Organisations. European Review, Vol. 17, No. 1, 23–31. doi:10.1017/S1062798709000544 

Jauslin, J. F. (1996). The Swiss National Library and its environment. Information Technology and Libraries, 15(2), 113-118.

Pfister, Joachim; Weinhold, Thomas; Zimmermann, Hans-Dieter (2009): Open Access in der Schweiz - Status quo und geplante Aktivitäten im Bereich von Institutional Repositories bei Hochschul- und Forschungseinrichtungen in der Schweiz. In: Proceedings ISI 2009, 1.-3. April 2009, Konstanz. 

Pepe, A. (2005) Open Access progress at CERN: technical implementation [OA Progress at CERN, Switzerland], 2005. In Berlin 3 Open Access : Progress in Implementing the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities,University of Southampton (UK), February 28th - March 1st 2005. (Unpublished) [Presentation].

Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences (ed., 2009): Open Access – Stand und Perspektiven. SAGW Bulletin 4:29-47. 

Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) (2011) Open access strategies and activities at SNSF. EFL: Lausanne [Presentation].



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