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 a wider reuse.

Authors are sometimes solicited to publish their research results in OA journals published by predatory publishers. These mercantile publishers, whose operation is not very transparent, do not guarantee any quality or scientific integrity. Publication in these journals therefore has very little scientific value.
In case of doubt about the editorial quality of a journal or an editor, it is useful to consult the ethical and professional recommendations of the scientific publication of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), or to check if the journal is listed in the DOAJ or contact the Library.

Open Access requirements

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 publication contract 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). 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.