Swiss national contract negotiations with academic publishers

This webpage provides you with updated information regarding the ongoing negotiations led by swissuniversities with the main STM publishers.


A transformative agreement Read & Publish has been signed by swissuniversities with academic publisher John Wiley & Sons. For 4 years (2021-2024), EPFL affiliated authors can publish in Hybrid Open Access at no cost in 1’396 Wiley journals and have an unlimited access to 1’474 titles available on
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Despite mutual efforts, the current negotiations between swissuniversities and academic publisher John Wiley & Sons have not resulted in a Read & Publish agreement. At the end of November, the negotiating parties decided to continue negotiations at the beginning of 2021. Access for current licenses of Wiley Journals and the Cochrane Library will be maintained until the negotiations are concluded.

Starting in January 2021, EPFL affiliated authors will publish in Gold Open Access at no cost in more than 2,000 Hybrid and Gold Taylor & Francis journals and will have an unlimited access to Science & Technology and Social Science & Humanities collections.

During the contract term (2021, 2022, and 2023), the number of Gold Open Access articles taken in charge is restricted at a national level (260, 366, and 450 publications, respectively). If in any year the maximum number of articles included in the agreement is exceeded, or if the eligibility of the authors has not been validated by EPFL, the publishing invoice will be directly sent to authors.

In the frame of the agreement with Cambridge University Press, the Open Access publication in 330 Hybrid and 40 Gold Open Access journals from the Full Collection will be at no cost for EPFL affiliated authors. The EPFL community will also have an access to the Full Collection (403 titles).

A supporting Open Access agreement has been signed with the publisher, leading to a 50% discount on the APC (Article Processing Charges) for EPFL authors, in addition to a full access to all titles.

A transformative agreement Read & Publish with the publisher Springer Nature has been signed by swissuniversities for 3 years (2020-2022). EPFL affiliated authors can now publish in Open Access at no cost in more than 2’000 hybrid journals and have an unlimited access to SpringerLink.
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 the first transformative agreement Read & Publish with the publisher Elsevier has been nationally negotiated by swissuniversities and signed by Swiss institutions for 4 years (2020-2023). EPFL affiliated authors can now publish in Open Access at no cost in more than 2,000 hybrid and fully Gold Open Access journals. EPFL community will have an unlimited access to Elsevier articles.

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Access to journals published by Springer-Nature will be maintained beyond 31.03.2020. Swissuniversities’ negotiations for a national Read & Publish licence are ongoing.
swissuniversities information

Springer-Nature maintains access to newspaper articles (Springer and Nature titles) until the end of March 2020. After this deadline, Swiss academic institutions, including EPFL, may have to call upon the services of the libraries to obtain the articles.

  • Wiley: a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed with Wiley for the conclusion of a Read & Publish agreement for 2021. Negotiations with Wiley will continue in 2020. Institutions that already have a license agreement with Wiley have been offered an extension on unchanged terms for one year.
  • Elsevier: a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed with Elsevier for the conclusion of a Read & Publish agreement that will be valid from January 2020. swissuniversities supports the agreed framework conditions. The contract will be fully negotiated between the parties by the end of March 2020. 
  • Springer-Nature: the existing license agreement with Springer-Nature was extended by one year in 2018. In 2019, despite mutual efforts, it was not possible to agree on a Read & Publish agreement that met the requirements of the swissuniversities mandate. Springer Nature was unable to accept a further extension of the contract that would have no impact on costs. To date, the parties have left the negotiating table without result. From January 2020 and until further notice, the Swiss universities will no longer have an agreement with Springer-Nature (non-contractual status). As a consequence, there will be access restrictions on new articles in Springer-Nature journals next year.

   Why negotiate?
♦   New models for licensing
♦   Swiss context : the swissuniversities mandate
♦   Key aspects of the current negotiations
♦   Possible scenarios for 2020
♦   No-deal scenario consequences in 2020
♦   What about these 3 publishers and EPFL Open Access policy?
♦   We are not alone: the international situation

“How to get articles” factsheet

Some alternatives to access the publications essential for your research, when EPFL doesn’t have a current subscription.

Contact us

Should you need any help or have any further questions, please contact the Library.

♦   Why negotiate?

The licensing and publishing context

Licensing: current agreements for access to content of major STM publishers see high annual fee increases and most often do not comply with national and funder’s strategies and policies on Open Access.

Publishing: more and more researchers publish their results in Open Access, while

  • hybrid journals practice double-dipping (charging separately for access and Gold Open Access publishing), and
  • fees for this publishing model are high and tend to increase.

   New models for licensing

Traditional licensing models to access scientific publishing are based on different patterns for pricing, often based on the subscribing institution size (FTE) and historical print subscription expenses. They don’t consider the expenses made for Gold Open Access publishing (Article Publishing Charges, APC). Annual fee increases on these agreements vary in average between 3% to 6%, but could be much more.

Transformative agreements aim to bundle negotiated pricing conditions for accessing scientific publishing and publishing activities in a sole agreement, to rationalize the expenses and avoid double-dipping:

  • Read & Publish Agreement

This agreement bundles into the same contract the payment (fixed sum) for reading (providing access to entire journal portfolio for the subscribing institution) and publishing (allowing the authors affiliated to the institution to publish in OA without paying specific APCs);

  • Publish & Read Agreement

Through this agreement model, institutions pay (price settled on the publishing activity basis) the publishers only for their Open Access publishing services (the authors affiliated to the institutions can choose to publish in OA without paying APCs). The access to the entire journal portfolio is included at no additional cost.


   Swiss context: the swissuniversities mandate

A negotiation team commissioned by swissuniversities has been negotiating since January 2019 with the three major publishers Elsevier, Springer-Nature and Wiley to find a satisfactory agreement for the Swiss scientific community on the Read & Publish principle.

The negotiation team negotiates on behalf of all Swiss institutions of higher education, including EPF Lausanne and ETH Zürich.

Single institutions agreed not to run parallel negotiations with these three publishers until the objectives of the current negotiation have been met.

Solidarity with this initiative implies acceptance of a no-deal situation (= no subscriptions, no access) after the termination of current agreements if the negotiation objectives are not achieved.

More information about the swissuniversities negotiation strategy and goals


♦   Key aspects of the current negotiations

Negotiation team

2 rectors (UniGE and UniZH), 2 researchers (Unil and ETH Zürich), 2 library directors (UniZH and UniBE); 2 representatives of the Consortium of Swiss Academic Libraries

Contents and current expenses

  • Publisher’s journals: ELSEVIER (~1’900 titles), SPRINGER-NATURE (~2’190 titles) and WILEY (~1’500 titles)
  • Not included (imposed by publishers): NATURE journals (Springer-Nature); CELL Press journals (Elsevier), databases and ebooks
  • 2019 expenditure: 22.4 M€ (excl. tax) for Switzerland
  • 2019 expenditure: 1.41 M€ (excl. tax) for EPFL

Negotiation objectives

  • Licensing and Open Access go hand-in-hand: articles published by researchers of Swiss universities in journals belonging to the 3 above publishers must be immediately accessible in Open Access.
  • Sustainable access to the entire content of all journals of the publishers must be granted as part of the package.
  • Cost neutrality: no Open Access = no price increase. If an agreement with publishers on Open Access cannot be reached in the contracts, future price increases should not be accepted.
  • Transparency for licensing deals: no non-disclosure clauses in the agreements.

♦   Possible scenarios for 2020

  1. Conclusion of a Read & Publish agreement (bundling in the same contract the payment for reading – providing access to entire journal portfolio – and publishing – allowing the authors affiliated to the institution to publish in OA without paying APCs);
  2. Cost neutral prolongation of the existing licenses with the publishers. Negotiations will continue in 2020;
  3. No deal, with a resulting cancellation of subscription from January 2020. Negotiations will continue in 2020.

♦   No-deal scenario consequences in 2020

  • No access to articles published from January 2020 onwards.
  • Archival access for articles published before January 2020 is granted for Wiley and Springer. Post Cancellation Access clauses in the current Elsevier agreement permit archival access to only 146 titles (some more backfiles will remain accessible, as the Library purchased them).
  • Grace periods to access content during the pursuit of negotiations could be granted, although for the moment there is no clear information about that from the publishers.

In case of a no-deal scenario with one or more publishers, alternatives routes to access their articles exist, please check out our factsheet  for more information.

“How to get articles” factsheet


♦   What about these 3 publishers and EPFL Open Access policy?

According to the EPFL Open Access policy, implemented in February 2019, EPFL researchers are required to make their research outputs Open Access via Gold (incl. hybrid OA) or Green OA. If the Green OA is chosen, a maximum embargo of 6 months is mandated.

This embargo duration (same required by funders) is not always compatible with some journals policies (e.g Elsevier from 12 to 48 months; Springer and Wiley: 12 months).

In order to reduce the embargo period, an amendment to the copyright agreement has been prepared for researchers and parallel negotiations with publishers have been initiated by the

VPR and the Library. None of these three editors has accepted any change in their policy either at the level of the authors or at the EPFL level.

If current contracts are extended, nothing will change; if a Read & Publish agreement is concluded, EPFL researchers will be in the situation to publish in immediate Open Access with the publisher.


♦   We are not alone: the international situation

The Swiss context fits into the international trend. Several institutions in many countries are facing the same difficulties with the publishers and are running negotiations sharing all the same goals.

No-deal with Elsevier (some examples)

  • UC Berkeley: the University of California walked away from negotiations with publishing giant Elsevier, leaving UC researchers without easy access to some of the world’s top research papers.
  • Germany (Project DEAL): all institutions terminated their contracts at end of year 2017, access to new published contents has been granted from January to July 2018. At the end of August 2019 formal negotiations have not yet been resumed.
  • Sweden: no agreement from July 2017 to November 2019 (results of the survey among researchers:

More information :


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