The Swiss National Strategy on Open Access and its Action Plan

“A year ago, the action plan for the Swiss National Strategy on Open Access has been approved by the plenary assembly of swissuniversities ( and has been subsequently endorsed by the governing board of the Swiss University Conference. Swiss Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are the key players in the implementation process of the national strategy, so the aim of the action plan was to provide them with options and concrete solutions to achieve the objectives that came with adopting the strategy. …

According to the “Vision 2024” underlying the national strategy, all scholarly publications resulting from publicly funded research must be freely available on the internet and, moreover, that all scholarly publications in Switzerland should be 100% Open Access within a landscape of mixed Open Access models by 2024. The proposed approaches to implement this vision have been formulated with respect to predefined guiding principles such as pursuing a powerful and unified approach while having complete cost transparency and cost neutrality in the long term. All stakeholders have to join forces in order to realize the objectives. This is especially important considering the decentralized education and research system of Switzerland.

National contract negotiations with the major publishers Springer Nature, Wiley and Elsevier under the auspices of swissuniversities are significant action items regarding a unified approach. The focus of the negotiation strategy will be on the “Read & Publish” model as a favoured negotiation approach with the goal to gain transparent pricing and greater accessibility to publications (see also the factsheet for details)….”

‘Those who hold the purse can change the system’ | Research Information

Smits spelled out the three ways to be compliant with Plan S:

  • Publish in high-quality open access journals/platforms;
  • Deposit in open access repositories without embargo; or
  • Publish in a hybrid journal that is subject to transformative agreement. The journal must be committed to a full OA transition within a period of four years.

He continued: ‘We have also heard that there are issues in some fields of science where there is no suitable open access journal in which to publish. To this end we are undertaking gap analysis, Where this proves to be the case, we will provide incentives to set up suitable journals or platforms.

‘On the subject of APCs, I am firmly advocating that there should be a cap on APCs; however we decided to adopt the Wellcome Trust approach and to say that APCs should be “reasonable”. We are going to do an in-depth study into what should be considered as reasonable, but I am very much of the opinion that the charge should be based on the service provided by the publisher.’

Smits concluded: ‘I had never expected Plan S to get so much attention and I think the fact that it is being debated around the world shows that people think there is change in the air, and that it is time for something new. That’s why it is important that all of us – particularly the publishers – come clean: do you believe that the results of publicly-funded research should no longer be behind expensive paywalls? Secondly, do you think it’s time for your businesses to move to new models based on open access? Answer these two questions with a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and I think you will make everyone happy – particularly me….”

EU’s New ‘Open By Default’ Rules For Data Generated By Public Funding Subverted At The Last Minute | Techdirt

In December last year, the European Parliament proposed a version of the text that would require researchers in receipt of public funding to publish their data for anyone to re-use. However, some companies and academics were unhappy with this “open by default” approach. They issued a statementcalling for research data to be “as open as possible, as closed as necessary”, which would include some carve-outs.

According to Science|Business, that view has prevailed in the final text, which is not yet publicly available. It is now apparently permissible for companies and academics to invoke “confidentiality” and “legitimate commercial interests” as reasons for not releasing publicly-funded data. Clearly, that’s a huge loophole that could easily be abused by organizations to hoard results. If companies and academic institutions aren’t willing to share the fruits of their research as open data, there’s a very simple solution: don’t take public money. Sadly, that fair and simple approach seems not to be a part of the otherwise welcome revised PSI Directive….”

MDPI 2019: price increases, some hefty, and more coming in July | Sustaining the Knowledge Commons / Soutenir les savoirs communs

n brief: MDPI has increased prices, in many cases quite substantially (some prices have more than tripled). Even more price increases are anticipated in July 2019, which will have the effect of doubling the average APC and tripling the most common APC. Unlike other publishers’ practices, there are no price decreases. Comment and recommendation: open access advocates, along with policy makers and research funders, and keen to support a transition to open access. In my opinion, the enthusiasm of payers to support APC journals is causing an unhealthy and unsustainable distortion in the market. My advice: stick with green OA policy. Require deposit of funded works in an open access repository. This is a better means to ensure ongoing preservation and open access, and exerts market pressure in a way that is more suited to the development of an economically sustainable open access system.

My Response to Plan S – Toby Green – Medium

“1. Publishing has been hi-jacked by the reputation economy….

2. Publishing is a bundle of services: as the low-cost airlines showed, unbundling can open up markets….

3. The central problem isn’t open access, it’s that scholarly publishing costs more than available funds….

4. Finally, why not do it yourself?….”

My Response to Plan S – Toby Green – Medium

“1. Publishing has been hi-jacked by the reputation economy….

2. Publishing is a bundle of services: as the low-cost airlines showed, unbundling can open up markets….

3. The central problem isn’t open access, it’s that scholarly publishing costs more than available funds….

4. Finally, why not do it yourself?….”

If Software Is Funded from a Public Source, Its Code Should Be Open Source | Linux Journal

“If we pay for it, we should be able to use it….

But it’s important not to overstate the “free as in beer” element here. All major software projects have associated costs of implementation and support. Departments choosing free software simply because they believe it will save lots of money in obvious ways are likely to be disappointed, and that will be bad for open source’s reputation and future projects….

Moving to open-source solutions does not guarantee that personal data will not leak out, but it does ensure that the problems, once found, can be fixed quickly by government IT departments—something that isn’t the case for closed-source products. This is a powerful reason why public funds should mean open source—or as a site created by the Free Software Foundation Europe puts it: “If it is public money, it should be public code as well”.

The site points out some compelling reasons why any government code produced with public money should be free software. They will all be familiar enough to readers of Linux Journal. For example, publicly funded code that is released as open source can be used by different departments, and even different governments, to solve similar problems. That opens the way for feedback and collaboration, producing better code and faster innovation. And open-source code is automatically available to the people who paid for it—members of the public. They too might be able to offer suggestions for improvement, find bugs or build on it to produce exciting new applications. None of these is possible if government code is kept locked up by companies that write it on behalf of taxpayers….”

After Plan S, Here’s Plan U: Funders Should Require All Research To Be Posted First As A Preprint | Techdirt

Now people are starting to think about ways to put preprints at the heart of academic publishing and research. In the wake of the EU’s “Plan S” to make more research available as open access, there is now a proposal for “Plan U” …

Fearing plagiarism, universities avoid INFLIBNET Shodhganga repository « Engineering, Science & Technology Resources Portal

“Bhopal: Fearing plagiarism in thesis awarded for doctorate in philosophy (PhD), prominent universities in the state have shied away from submitting the thesis in the Shodhganga repository despite a clear directive from the UGC to do so. The objective of using Shodhganga was to avoid duplication, plagiarism and repetition that, in effect, is wastage of huge resources….

Two years ago, UGC mandated that after completion of the evaluation and before the announcement of MPhil/Ph.D degree(s), the Institution concerned shall submit an electronic copy of the thesis to the Information and Library Network (INFLIBNET), for hosting the same so as to make it accessible. To implement this provision of UGC Regulations, 2016, Shodhganga repository was set up….”

Guidance on submissions (2019/01) – REF 2021

“106. The four UK HE funding bodies believe that the outputs of publicly funded research should be freely accessible and widely available. Open access research brings benefits to researchers, students, institutions, governments, public bodies, professionals and practitioners, citizen scientists and many others. Open access has the potential to make research more efficient and impactful. In view of these benefits, and to embed open access as an intrinsic part of the research process, the funding bodies have introduced a policy requirement on open access in REF 2021.

107. The intent of the REF open access policy is to provide a set of minimum requirements for open access, while encouraging an environment where researchers and HEIs move beyond the minimum requirements. HEIs can demonstrate where they have gone beyond the requirements in the environment template (REF5b) in the research and impact strategy section (see the ‘Panel criteria’, paragraph 346). The funding bodies encourage institutions to take a proportionate view of the costs and benefits of making other types of outputs (including monographs) available as open access.

108. The open access policy applies to journal articles and conference contributions (with an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)) which are accepted for publication from 1 April 2016 and published on or before 31 December 2020. It requires these research outputs to be made open access for those outputs to be eligible for submission in REF 2021. The outputs should be deposited, discoverable, and free to read, download and search within, by anyone with an internet connection. The funding bodies recommend that institutions fully consider the extent to which authors currently retain or transfer the copyright of works published by their researchers, as part of creating a healthy research environment.

109. Authors and institutions can meet the policy requirement without necessarily incurring any additional open access publication costs (such a through payment of an article processing charge).

110. Evidence gathered in 2017 indicates good progress is being made by the sector in implementing the policy, and a range of systems and tools are being developed to assist authors and institutions in making their outputs open. However, the funding bodies recognise that the current structures and software solutions are still at an early stage, and that it will take time to fully establish open access as an intrinsic part of the research process. The funding bodies expect the sector and service providers to continue the momentum to develop new tools to implement the policy, particularly relating to the deposit requirements. In view of this, there are measures and exceptions which have been developed to provide a degree of tolerance of non-compliance.

111. The funding bodies recognise that information on deposit permissions, licences and embargoes can sometimes be unclear, complex, or hard to find. Until significant progress has been made to address this issue (including developing machine-readable licences and permissions), it is reasonable for the sector to rely on shared services, including those offered by SHERPA (Securing a Hybrid Environment for Research Preservation and Access). Authors and institutions should feel comfortable acting on the information provided by SHERPA in meeting REF 2021 open access requirements, and should not undertake additional work to verify this information.

112. Institutions are not expected to correspond with previous institutions to evidence that outputs published while a staff member was previously employed elsewhere fulfilled the requirements of the policy. This is the case even if the new employer intends to submit the output to REF 2021. For example, when a researcher moves from the institution where the output was published (X), to another institution (Y), the REF does not expect that institution Y corresponds with institution X to seek and retain evidence of the output’s compliance. Where an institution is unable to ascertain themselves if an output is compliant with the policy, a policy exception can be applied (see paragraph 255.a).

113. The intent of this policy is for the output to be made freely available. The policy encourages outputs which are submitted with a deposit, technical, or other exception to be made open access as soon as possible. However, this is not a requirement of the policy.

114. The REF 2021 audit process will seek assurance that the information and data submitted regarding compliance are accurate and reliable….”