Open Access

If you have any questions about open access, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Open Access publications are available online free of charge. They make use of a licence which safeguards the author's rights without hindering the use of the text for academic and teaching purposes.

Further information

Open Access offers numerous advantages:

  • OA publications are available to everyone immediately, free of charge
  • OA publications are easier to find via search engines and reference services
  • OA publications achieve a high level of visibility and are read and cited more often
  • The distribution rights remain with the authors
  • OA promotes the dissemination and re-use of research findings
  • Open Access fosters collaboration and speeds up research

There are a number of ways to provide Open Access.

Green OA

Green Open Access refers to self-archiving or republishing previously published articles on a publicly accessible document server (institutional or subject-specific repository). In contrast to storing articles on websites, repositories are easier to search through, bring the research outputs of a particular institution together in one place, and preserve the content in a stable way over the long term. In many cases, the accepted manuscript (post-print, author’s manuscript after peer review) or the pre-print version (author’s manuscript before peer review) must be used when republishing an article. Depending on the publisher, some post-prints may not be made available until after a certain embargo period.
An overview of the republication policies of various publishers and journals may be found at Sherpa/Romeo.

Gold OA

The Gold route is a way of publishing research immediately in Open Access. The publication is freely accessible immediately, ideally with a Creative Commons licence, which allows it to be re-used and disseminated. In some cases, publication fees, known as APCs (Article Processing Charges) are payable.
A list of Open Access journals may be found in the Directory of Open Access Journals.

Diamond OA

The Diamond route is a sub-category of Gold Open Access. Diamond Open Access refers to Open Access publications for which no publication fees are charged. 

Hybrid OA

The Hybrid route refers to initial publication with Open Access in subscription-based journals. Publication of the article is often “paid for” by means of article processing charges (APCs) that are often very high. The University of Bern is wary of this model, because it leads to fees being paid twice – once through a subscription to the journal, and once through the APCs. This procedure is known as “double dipping”.

More and more funding agencies and institutions require free access to publications and research data.


The SNSF supports the principle of Open Access and expects its grant recipients to make their research results publicly available for re-use, promptly and in electronic form.

Since 1 April 2018, published books have to be freely accessible after 12 months. 

You can find detailed information about the SNSF regulations here.


Under Horizon2020, all beneficiaries must make their peer-reviewed scientific publications available through Open Access. They are free to choose either the Green or the Gold route.

Publications in the STEM subjects must be available through Open Access no later than six months after publication. There is a deadline of 12 months for the social sciences and humanities.

You can find detailed information about the H2020 regulations here.

Further information

At the end of 2015, the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) commissioned swissuniversities and the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) to devise a national strategy for Open Access publications. The Open Access Strategy envisions that all publicly funded publications will be freely accessible by 2024. 

Further information may be found here.

The University of Bern supports Open Access as described in the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities which it signed in 2007, and declares that Open Access is a strategic objective. The Open Access Policy is in line with the Open Access Guidelines of the Rectors' Conference of the Swiss Universities (CRUS), the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and the Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences (SAGW); it does not interfere with the free choice of publication media or with academic freedom. The University has approved the following guidelines:

  1. The University of Bern requires its researchers to deposit a full version of all peer-reviewed and published academic work and the corresponding bibliographical information in the institutional repository of the University of Bern. This makes the academic work publicly available through Open Access, provided that there are no legal obstacles.
  2. The University of Bern encourages its researchers to publish their research results in Open Access journals, where appropriate journals exist.
  3. As of the 2014 reporting year, research evaluation and academic reports at the University of Bern are supported by the institutional repository of the University of Bern.

The University of Bern supports the implementation of these guidelines by operating an institutional repository which allows the University’s researchers to deposit their publications and the corresponding metadata.

Clarifications on practical implementation:

  • In relation to publishers, researchers retain the right to make their publications publicly accessible via the University of Bern repository – after the expiry of any applicable embargo period.
  • If this option is not available, the bibliographical information of the publications is deposited together with a full version of the text, which is protected from public access in the repository. 

Professor Reto M. Hilty, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property and Competition Law and Full Professor at the University of Zurich, and Dr Matthias Seemann, a lawyer at Vischer AG, were commissioned by the University of Zurich to produce a legal opinion on the operation of repositories. Special emphasis is placed on republication in repositories.

Legal opinion:
Hilty, Reto M.; Seemann, Matthias (2009): Open Access – Zugang zu wissenschaftlichen Publikationen im schweizerischen Recht [Open Access – Access to scientific publications in Swiss law]. Legal opinion commissioned by the University of Zurich. Zurich.

Further information may be found in the FAQs of Zurich Central Library.

The authors of academic and artistic works use Creative Commons licences to specify the legal conditions under which their works may be published, disseminated and used. The licences are available in over 60 languages and are legally valid throughout the world. They feature a variety of icons which indicate the conditions that must be respected during re-use. They are therefore easy to understand, and users know exactly what they may use the works for – even if they do not have legal expertise.

CC licences function as a modular system. The licence conditions can be combined with each other, giving a choice of six different licences in all. Depending on the combination, a liberal or restrictive use of the content may be permitted.

Funding agencies and universities recommend the use of the most open licence, such as CC BY.

Suggested reading:

Further information:

There are many Open Access journals, with new ones starting up almost daily.

Unfortunately, there are a number of untrustworthy journals and publishers on the market. These are known as “predatory journals”, and provide an unsatisfactory service – or none at all – in return for high publication fees. Such journals are often easy to identify, since their websites are full of spelling mistakes and/or they aggressively try to attract submissions. Sometimes, however, predatory journals are not so easy to recognize. For instance, their web presence may be flawless or they may give the name of a renowned scientist as the editor, even though the latter knows nothing about it.

Predatory journals checklist

The following checklist will help you evaluate (OA) journals.

Suggested reading:

Further information

Some Open Access publishers require the payment of publication fees, known as article processing charges (APCs), before publishing in Open Access mode. These charges vary greatly in amount, with Hybrid OA generally costing significantly more than Gold OA. Reputable Open Access journals state their APCs transparently and communicate them on their websites. For further information on evaluating journals, see this checklist.

The University and University Library of Bern do not have a central Open Access publication fund. However, Bern researchers benefit from reduced APCs from the following publishers:

Within the framework of the LERU petition and the DORA initiative, the Bern University Library endeavours to support alternative, non-profit Open Access initiatives.

The following initiatives are supported by UB:

UB is also a member of:

Do you know of an OA initiative that deserves to be supported? Contact us.

If you have any questions please contact us via our e-mail address

This e-mail address is monitored by everyone in the Open Access team so we can answer your queries efficiently.


Open Access and FAIR Data requirements in funded projects

Open Access has been an emerging issue for the last few years. More recently, research funders like the European Research Council and the Swiss National Science Foundation have introduced mandatory policies for open access and research data. In this information event you will learn about the requirements of the EC H2020 funding program and the SNSF concerning open access and research data management and what options you have to comply with them.

Date: 17.05.2018, Time: 12.15, Slides: H4_101 Uni Hauptgebäude