FAQ Open Access

Is Open Access not just a utopian dream?

On the contrary - despite its relatively short history, the Open Access movement has enjoyed enormous success and is currently radically changing the face of the academic publication market:

How can I publish my own articles on my website without infringing any legal agreements?

There is no standard answer to that question, as it depends for each text on what you have agreed with the publisher in writing. It is therefore vital that, before signing a contract, you carefully examine which rights of use you grant to the publisher and their scope (also refer to the FAQs provided by the Swiss National Science Foundation on this topic, particularly sections 12 and 13). However, the vast majority of publishers will allow you to make available either the post-print (author's last version) or the preprint (submitted but not yet peer-reviewed version) : You will find information on your publisher's policy in the SHERPA/ROMEO database.

Isn't there a danger of plagiarism if everything is freely accessible online? Who ensures I retain the rights to my texts?

Plagiarizing electronic resources with copy and paste is certainly easier than copying out information from a book. (However, plagiarism was around before the Internet). And plagiarism does not just apply to Open Access literature but to any electronic text, whether it be Wikipedia or the online edition of a daily newspaper. However, as soon as the full text of the original appears online, text comparison also makes it much easier to spot plagiarism.

In addition, Open Access publishers and journals mostly work with Creative Commons licenses, which safeguard the author's intellectual property rights and credit and ensure ensure their right to be named as the author. It also gives authors the option to specify for themselves how and to what extent their publication may be used by others (whether e.g. for non-commercial use only, whether editing is permitted, etc.). Thus, the individual authors, not the publishing company, are able to specify who is allowed to work with their texts and how.

Isn't it absurd if I have to pay publication fees as an author? After all, I have written the article myself and given it to the publisher for free!

From the researcher's perspective, this makes no sense, until you look at the distribution of costs in the traditional publication model, when the reasons become clear:

As an author, you provide the content to the publisher free of charge (or you may be required to pay page charges/contribute to the publication costs). Likewise, the editorial board of a journal usually works for free, as do the peer reviewers. The publisher takes care of proofreading the text (in some cases), printing, distribution and marketing – and then sells the journals mostly to university libraries, which then have to 'buy back' their articles using public funding.

Thus, in the traditional model, the reader pays, either in a pay-per-view model (readers pay to view an article) or indirectly via public subsidies in the form of library subscriptions. In the Open Access model, the costs of publication are charged before publication itself, so that readers do not have to pay anything.

Studies, such as that conducted by the British Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) in 2009, indicate that switching over the entire academic publication system to an Open Access model would entail significant cost savings. Open Access certainly makes the overall costs of the publication system much more transparent, enabling a much greater number of readers to be reached at the same cost.

I would like to publish in an Open Access journal, but I need financial support to cover the publication fees.

Depending on how your project is funded, different options are available:

1. If you are working on an EU research project, you can budget and charge 100% of the publication costs to the project.

For further information, see:

EUresearch Bern can also provide further assistance with any questions you may have concerning EU projects.

2. If you are funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF), you can also use your research grants for a gold Open Access publication (not for models known as hybrid models, i.e. for unlocking a single article); or you can apply for additional funding, if necessary. SNF publication cost contributions are another option. You will find detailed information on the SNF pages (in particular, see the FAQs).

3. Many of the larger Open Access publishers offer institutional memberships, which reduces the publication fees for members of participating institutions. The University of Bern Is currently a member of BioMed Central and SpringerOpen; other memberships are under discussion. Please contact us if you wish to suggest a publisher or journal to us.

4. We would be pleased to offer you personal advice regarding financing and publication options. Please do not hesitate to contact us.