Open Access


Open Access is the free of charge and free of most copyright and licensing restriction way of disseminating publications online (Peter Suber – Open Access, 2012. MIT Press).

Publishing the research results in Open Access (OA) ensures a maximum visibility for the work. There are two ways to ensure this free access to publications: the Green and Gold road.

Green OA consists in depositing its scientific contributions (articles, conference proceedings, books and book chapters) in an institutional (Infoscience at EPFL) or thematic (ArXiv, PuMed, etc.) open archive.  The Green OA conditions (version and embargo) are defined in the publication contract and can be checked on the Sherpa Romeo database, the journal’s website or at the Library.

Generally, publishers do not allow the dissemination of the final version but allow the deposit of the postprint version (or accepted version), which is the peer-reviewed and accepted version prior to any proofreading and production steps.

Gold OA consists in publishing its research results in an Open Access journal (DOAJ list), in a book or a book chapter in OA (DOAB list). Online access to these publications is free and immediate. Most of the time, this type of publication implies publication costs (APC – Article Processing Charge, BPC – Book Processing Charge or BCPC – Book Chapter Processing Charge) charged to the author, the institution or the funder. When EPFL authors do not have dedicated funds available to cover such costs, the Library contributes, under certain conditions, through the Open Access Fund. The Library also negotiates agreements with certain publishers for discounts. All information on financial support can be found here.

Hybrid (Hybrid OA) is an alternative form of Gold OA consisting of publishing an article in a subscription journal (closed-access journal) and paying for the OA option at the article level. The publication then becomes immediately and freely accessible. Since access to hybrid publications is financed by both the subscription to the journal and the payment of the OA option, this is called double-dipping. For these reasons, EPFL (and certain funders) do not contribute financially to this type of cost unless they are provided for in a reading and publication license.
Unlike most non-OA publications for which the author assigns most of their rights to the publisher, Gold OA publications are distributed under open CC-BY licenses allowing wider reuse. More information on the Fastguide #3.

EPFL researchers are sometimes contacted to publish their results in journals, mostly Open Access, run by predatory publishers. These profit-greedy publishers, whose operation is not very transparent, do not guarantee any quality or scientific integrity. The proofreading and editing stages are almost always non-existent and the manuscript is generally put online immediately after submission.

Publication in these journals, therefore, has very little scientific value and can damage the reputation of the researcher that of EPFL. Moreover, the research cannot be submitted to another journal once published in the predatory journal. Generally, these types of journals or publishers solicit researchers directly by email; however, the predatory practice is also found in the context of conference or thesis publication.

In case of doubt about the editorial quality of a journal or publisher, you can consult the ethical and professional recommendations of the scientific publication of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), or check if the journal is listed in the DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals) and listed in bibliographic databases (Scopus, Web of Science, etc.). It is also useful to make your own assessment by reading an article from these journals and to seek advice from your colleagues and peers.

The website Think, Check, Submit also provides information about predatory publishers (Think, Check, Attend is also a great resource for predatory conferences). The following checkpoints are also important:

  • Communications and website: Emails and the website content are of high quality.
  • Editorial board: Editors and committee members (editorial or advisory board) are experts in the field; the editor of a journal is responsible for only one journal.
  • Contacts: Contact information is available and requests are answered.
  • Peer review and publication charges: Review processes, submission steps, and publication charges are clearly indicated.
  • Journal’s scope: The topics and expectations of the journal are well defined.
  • Identifiers: The journal has an ISSN and publications have DOIs.
  • Copyright: Information on the transfer of rights, conditions of reuse, license types are available on the journal’s website.

Other resources:

  • QOAM (Quality Open Access Market): evaluation by academic authors on their experience with OA journals.
  • Compass to publish: online tool that helps to identify predatory journals and publishers (developed by the ULiège Library).
  • Retraction Watch: tracking of article retractions related to fraud or weaknesses of the publishing system.

Feel free to contact the Library if you have any questions.

Open Access requirements

OACT - A new solution for the Swiss research community


Compare Open Access publication conditions of research institutions, funders and scientific journals.

Since 2019, EPFL has an Open Access policy defining the institution’s requirement for the dissemination of the publications of EPFL researchers according to the principle of OA.

EPFL policy requires that EPFL authors publish all of their OA research results according to the Green or the Gold road and deposit all their publications in Infoscience at the moment of the publication.

In the case of Green OA, the publication should be made open no later than 6 months for articles (12 months for books) after publication. This embargo period is not always in accordance with the journal’s Green OA policies and may be negotiated with publishers. In order to support the authors in this negotiation, an amendment to the publisher agreement (Fastguide #2) and an accompanying message are proposed to the authors of EPFL.

Most funders, including the SNSF and the European H2020 program, require their grantees to publish all their research results in Open Access via the Gold or Green road (maximum 6 months embargo for articles and 12 months for books). More information on the Fastguide #2. It is important to check the requirements of the funder as soon as possible in order to prepare publication strategies and to plan the costs related to publication in OA. The Library is available to assist units in verifying the compliance of publications.

Under certain conditions, funding from Gold OA is possible:

  • SNSF: publications in Gold OA are eligible for direct payment to the publisher or for reimbursement within 6 months after publication. Information on this web page.
  • European Commission (Horizon 2020 program): Open Access fees (Gold and Hybrid) are eligible. More information here.


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