Publishing in Open Access

What is Open Access?

Open access (OA) is a pledge to make scientific outputs freely and immediately available online, without any financial (access fees) and legal barriers (copyright and license restrictions). In practice, Open Access is leveraging the internet to give anyone the right to read, download, copy and further disseminate digital information, free of charge. That is particularly important for researchers, experts and patients who cannot afford a personal or institutional subscription to journals. But it ultimately benefits everyone.

Although several other options exist, there are two main avenues for researchers to provide Open Access to their scientific publications: self-archiving (often referred to as the ‘Green’ road) or publishing in Open Access journals (referred to as the ‘Gold’ Road). This decision tree can help you navigate the two different options.

‘Green’ Open Access allows authors to publish in a traditional subscription journal as usual, while they make their articles freely available – i.e. ‘self-archive’ – in a repository. At EPFL, this is typically done using the institutional repository Infoscience. No charges have to be paid by the author as the repository is directly supported by one or several institutions. An embargo period is usually set by the publisher, however, the conditions of ‘Green’ Open Access deposit vary from publisher to publisher. This resource allows authors to browse the copyright and self-archiving policies by journal title.

‘Gold’ Open Access means that all publications in a journal are freely accessible to readers immediately and without restrictions. Publishers cover their publication costs by charging authors (or their institutions) when articles are accepted. These charges are often referred to as ‘article processing charges’ (APCs). Some Open Access journals do not charge any APC – so-called ‘Platinum’ Open Access – as the publication costs are covered in another way, often through philanthropy.

The EPFL Open Access policy was adopted by its Direction in February 2019 and expresses the institutional position. All members of the EPFL scientific community keep their academic freedom and can select the periodical in which they want to publish their research outputs, regardless of the publication model. To comply with the policy, EPFL authors are required to deposit a version of each of their publications in the institutional archive Infoscience. By doing so, they provide unrestricted access no later than 6 months after their publication, following the ‘Green’ road. Generally, publishers grant authors the right to self-archive the postprint version of their publication.

EPFL also encourages its researchers to publish their research results following the Gold’ road, in peer-reviewed journals of recognized and high scientific standard. EPFL can contribute to the publication costs under certain conditions.

The Open Access movement was born over two decades ago, and its vision formalised in the Budapest Open Access Initiative in 2002 and in the Berlin Declaration in 2003. While the details of how to best implement Open Access are still debated, it represent an important prerequisite for open science. Open Access to research articles makes it possible for everyone to read and further share scientific information, fostering the dissemination of knowledge, and supporting innovation, fair competition and the broader participation of citizens in research and knowledge production.

Funding agencies often have expectations regarding Open Access to publications. Amongst them, the specific requirements of SNSF and the European Commission are as follow:

  • The SNSF requires grantees to make the results of SNSF-funded projects freely available to the public, following either with ‘Green’ route or the ‘Gold’ route (see below). Financial support can be obtained from the SNSF to publish in Open Access, including for books. More information and guidelines are available on their dedicated website.
  • The European Commission, in the framework of Horizon 2020 program (including ERC grants), requires each beneficiary to ensure Open Access to all funded publications. Article Processing Charges (APCs) are eligible costs. More information on their website.

Where to find support ?

For any questions concerning Open Access, please visit the EPFL Library webpage dedicated to publishing support or contact the team by email.