National negotiations (Elsevier, Springer Nature, Wiley)


Negotiations have been underway since 2018 at the national level by swissuniversities with the publishing houses Elsevier, Springer Nature and Wiley, as a part of the Swiss National Strategy on Open Access. The objective is to define a new "Read & Publish" license model, namely a license that covers both the consultation of journal articles (Read) and the costs of publishing in Open Access in these same journals (Publish). swissuniversities approach also aims to stem the constant rise in prices, as well as the pressure from publishers to subscribe to 'bundles' of journals ("Big Deals").

On this page you will find essential information on the status of negotiations with these three publishers as well as a FAQ [update 27/03/2020].


The current license with Wiley could be extended for 2020 with no changes to terms and no increase in costs. The declaration of intent concluded with this publisher foresees the continuation of negotiations with the aim of concluding a "Read & Publish" contract in 2021.


A declaration of intent foresees the conclusion of a "Read & Publish" agreement valid from January 2020, which must be fully negotiated by the end of March 2020. Access to academic publications is guaranteed and researchers in the Swiss academic community should, according to a calendar still being established, be exempt from publishing fees from this publisher.

Springer Nature (new situation)

The negotiations in 2019 did not lead to an acceptable agreement and the Swiss academic community has been without a contract with Springer Nature since January 2020. However, the publisher granted a "grace period" until the end of March 2020. Negotiations have restarted and since March 2020 a declaration of intent exists for the conclusion of a "Read & Publish" agreement. Access to the articles is therefore maintained unchanged.


Access to publications

What are the alternative solutions for accessing non-accessible content?

On this page, the Library has compiled recommended solutions for legal access to content that is not or is no longer included in our subscriptions.

In addition, you can download this flyer (in French) which summarizes the main recommendations:


Is it legal to use Sci-Hub to get an article?

According to Swiss law, it is perfectly legal for a person to download pirated content (article, music, film...), as long as it remains for the person's private use.

However, the re-distribution or dissemination of such content is prohibited, as in other countries.

How do I access online resources from home?

If you are outside the University, you must install VPN (Virtual Private Network) software to be able to access the UNIGE's electronic resources as if you were on its premises.

You will find the VPN installation procedure according to your operating system (Linux, MacOS or Windows) on this page: (in French).

The installation and use of the VPN software require authentication through an ISIs account.

In case of problems with the installation or use of VPN, please contact the "Centre d'Accueil des Demandes" (CAD):

Understand the challenges involved

Can I access an article using the "pay-per-view" option?

The Library does not support the use of pay-per-view (one-time access fees for an article, usually limited in time by DRMs). On this page, the Library has compiled recommended solutions for legal access to content that is not or is no longer included in our subscriptions.

What does "Big Deal" mean?

In the field of scientific publishing, a "Big Deal" is an all-or-nothing content delivery model. The publisher offers as the only option the subscription to all its journals, at a flat rate. Libraries cannot choose to subscribe only to titles that are of real interest to their communities. In some cases, subscription to individual titles is possible, but the prices charged are dissuasive. The "Big Deal" is the model used by Elsevier, Springer Nature and Wiley.

What is a "Read & Publish" agreement?

When a library subscribes to a subscription for one or more journals, it purchases read access to protected content for its users. The amount requested by the publisher for this "Read" component generally depends on the size of the institution and the potential number of readers. The institution's researchers, for their part, must pay Article processing charges (or APCs) for their articles to be published Open Access, often with the same publishers to which libraries subscribe, which can lead to "double dipping".

With "Read & Publish" licenses, institutions seek to combine subscription fees and expenses related to Open Access publishing (APCs) in a single invoice, in order to have a high level of cost control and a better view of payments to a publisher. In such a case, the total amount is calculated on the basis of the library's subscriptions and the number of publications issued by the institution.

In a later phase, these licenses will be transformed into "Publish & Read", i.e. the amount of the financial transaction will be fully calculated according to the number of publications, and all journals will be free to read.

What is "double dipping"?

"Double dipping" occurs when the cost of publishing in Open Access in a journal is invoiced by a publisher who also sells the subscription to the same journal to the author's institution's library.

As a whole, the institution pays twice: once to publish in Open Access, and a second time to consult the article that is freely available.

In order to avoid this double payment, institutions try to combine journal subscriptions and publication fees in a single "Read & Publish" agreement. In the absence of such an agreement, they often refuse to cover the costs of publishing in Open Access in journals that remain available by subscription (so-called hybrid journals).

General questions

What can I do to support the University in its efforts to provide fairer access to scientific literature?

When choosing the journal in which to publish the results of his/her research, the researcher should take into account not only the prestige of the journal, but also the economic practices of its publisher, in order to favour journals that offer very wide access, ideally free of charge to the reader.

This is not always easy to do because there are sometimes still no credible alternatives to the main journals in some disciplines. It is nevertheless the author's duty to protect the interests of the academic community and society in general by ensuring that the right to republish or distribute the manuscript is preserved, for example after a short embargo period (6-12 months).

For more information, visit the pages dedicated to Open Access.

Who should I contact if I have any questions?

We would be pleased to answer any questions you may have on this topic at openaccess(at)