National negotiations with publishers – Read & publish reorganised

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swissuniversities’ negotiations with publishing powerhouses Wiley and Elsevier regarding open access to publicly financed publications has resulted in an agreement for 2020. Despite the absence of an agreement with Springer Nature, access to all journal contents is granted until further notice.

Results for 2020

  • Wiley: Extension of the current agreement with no cost increase. The agreement does not include any open access clauses. All Wiley journal content will remain accessible as usual. Wiley has concluded a memorandum of understanding to enter into a “read & publish” contract from 2021 onwards. Negotiations will continue in 2020.
    Authors from ETH Zurich still have the opportunity to publish free of charge in Wiley's Gold Open Access journals via the ETH Library.
  • Elsevier: A “read & publish” agreement was concluded with Elsevier. Access to content from Elsevier journals now includes more than 2500 journal titles in ScienceDirect. In addition, members of ETH Zurich can engage in open-access publication in Elsevier journals without incurring Article Processing Charges (APC).
  • Springer Nature: A “read & publish” agreement was concluded with Springer Nature. This agreement generally applies to all Springer Nature journals, with the exception of the journal Nature, the “Nature”-branded journals (e.g. “Nature Chemistry”) and “Scientific American”. A separate agreement allows author affiliated with ETH Zurich to publish free of charge through ETH Library in the Gold Open Access journals of the Springer imprints BioMed Central and SpringerOpen.

Frequently asked questions: About the negotiations

Licensing and publishing situation

Licensing: Current agreements for access to the content of major scientific, technical and medical (STM) publishers see high annual fee increases and most often do not comply with national and funder’s strategies and policies on open access.

Publishing: More and more researchers are publishing their results open access. Meanwhile, hybrid journals practice double-dipping (charging separately for subscription access and gold open access publishing), and fees for this publishing model are high and continue to rise.

The negotiating team has clear objectives that they want to reach on behalf of all Swiss institutions of higher education.


  • Licensing and open access go hand in hand: Articles published by Swiss university researchers in journals belonging to the aforementioned three publishers must be immediately released in open access format.
  • Publishers must grant ongoing access to all of their journal content as part of the deal.
  • Cost neutrality: No open access = no price increase. If a contractual agreement with publishers on open access cannot be reached, future price increases should not be accepted.
  • Transparency for licensing deals: No non-disclosure clauses in the agreements.

Subscriptions and current expenses

  • Number of journals: Elsevier (approx. 1,900 titles), Springer Nature (approx. 2,190 titles) and Wiley (approx. 1,500 titles)
  • 2019 expenditure: EUR 22.4 million (excluding tax) for all of Switzerland
  • 2019 expenditure: EUR 6.4 million (excluding tax) for ETH Zurich

Traditional licensing models for accessing scientific publications are often based on the size of the subscribing institution (number of full-time employees) and historical print subscription expenses. These agreements do not take into account the institution’s expenses for gold open access publishing (article processing charges, or APCs). Annual fee increases on these agreements vary on average from 3% to 6% or even higher.

Transformative agreements aim to bundle negotiated pricing conditions for accessing scientific publications and publishing services in a single agreement in order to streamline expenses and prevent double-dipping.

  • Read & publish agreement
    This type of contract bundles a fixed-sum payment for reading (providing access to a publisher’s journal portfolio for the subscribing institution) and publishing (allowing the authors affiliated with the institution to publish open access without paying individual APCs).
  • Publish & read agreement
    In this agreement model, institutions pay the publishers only for their open access publishing services. The price is determined based on the institution’s publishing activity, and the authors affiliated with the institution can choose to publish open access without paying individual APCs. Access to the journal portfolio is included at no additional cost.

A team commissioned by swissuniversities has been negotiating since January 2019 with the three major publishers Elsevier, Springer Nature and Wiley to find a satisfactory agreement for the Swiss scientific community based on the read & publish principle.

The team negotiates on behalf of all Swiss institutions of higher education, including EPF Lausanne and ETH Zurich.

Individual institutions have agreed not to run parallel negotiations with these three publishers until the objectives of the current negotiations have been met.

Solidarity with this initiative implies acceptance of a no-deal situation (no subscriptions, no access) after current agreements lapse if the negotiation objectives are not achieved.

More information about the swissuniversities negotiation strategy and goals (external link)

The situation is Switzerland is in line with international trends. Institutions in many countries are facing similar difficulties with publishers and are running negotiations with the same underlying goals.

No-deal with Elsevier (selected examples)

  • UC Berkeley (external link): The University of California (UC) walked away from negotiations with publishing giant Elsevier, leaving UC researchers without easy access to some of the world’s top scientific papers.
  • Germany (Project DEAL (external link)): All institutions terminated their contracts at the end of  2017. Access to newly published content was granted from January to July 2018. Formal negotiations had not yet been resumed as of late August 2019.
  • Sweden: No agreement since 1 July 2017 (results of the survey among researchers (external link)).

More information

Subnavigation and related Informations

Related Informations National negotiations with publishers – Read & publish reorganised


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You can contact us also via WhatsApp (external link) and our Chat.