Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, October 17, 2008

ETH Zürich adopts an OA mandate

Switzerland's ETH Zürich (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich) has adopted an OA mandate.  Thanks to Stevan Harnad for the alert and these details:

It is the policy of the ETH Zürich to maximise the visibility, usage and impact of their research output by maximising online access to it for all would-be users and researchers worldwide.

Therefore the ETH Zürich:

Requires of staff and postgraduate students to post electronic copies of any research papers that have been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal (post-prints), theses and other scientific research output (monographs, reports, proceedings, videos etc.), to be made freely available as soon as possible into the institutional repository “ETH E-Collection”, if there are no legal objections. The ETH Zürich expects authors where possible, to retain their copyright. For detailed information see the rules of the ETH E-Collection.

The policy statement (September 29, 2008) adds that:

  • [The university] encourages their researchers to publish in a suitable Open Access Journal where one exists; the ETH Zürich will cover the publication costs, if any.
  • The ETH library is the contact for all questions regarding Open Access.

The policy FAQ adds that:

The ETH Zurich does not support hybrid journals. This model is criticised for the fact that the library / organization has to pay double, namely, on the one hand, for the journal subscriptions and licences and, on the other, for the Open Access publication fees of the authors.


  • I applaud the mandatory language, the inclusion of theses and dissertations alongside peer-reviewed postprints, the requirement for early deposit, the willingness to pay publication fees at fee-based OA journals, and drawing the line at hybrid OA journals using a double-charge business model. 
  • I'd only recommend two refinements:  (1) recognize that some hybrid OA journals don't use the double-charge business model and actually reduce subscription prices in proportion to author uptake of the OA option, as Oxford has done for three years in a row; and (2) before mandating OA for monographs without qualification, consider making an exception for royalty-producing works.  The policy could welcome monographs from authors persuaded either (2a) that the benefits of OA outweigh meager royalties or (2b) that OA will stimulate a net increase in sales of the print edition.