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Plan S: A European Open Access Mandate

C Users Kalliroi AppData Local Packages Microsoft.SkypeApp kzf8qxf38zg5c LocalState 9e8410de 36a2 4704 af2f 2c032c66ffeaOpenAIRE welcomes the announcement of the ambitious ‘Plan S’, launched by cOAlition S, a coalition of 11 national funding organisations. This is an important step towards an open and transparent environment for research, where all kinds of research outputs can be openly accessed, linked, enriched and archived. We expect that this initiative will accelerate the transition to Open Access and Open Science, complementing the existing efforts, with the aim of making all publicly funded research publications Open Access by 2020.

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OA in Germany

The National Research Environment

Very few countries offer such a diverse higher education landscape as Germany: Germany currently numbers 347 Higher Education and over 250 public research institutions. Most of the higher education institutions are financed publicly (238), but there is also a large number of private universities which used to play only a subordinate role, but gain more and more importance. Currently major changes are taking place in German higher education: The Federal Government and the federal states initiated the Excellence Initiative to promote competition between universities. A large number of new ideas and projects have already been realized as a result of the Excellence Initiative. Moreover, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) released its Open Access Strategy entitled "Open Access in Germany" on September 20th 2016 which contains a clear commitment to the principles of open access and open science. The BMBF has also set up a post-grant fund for open access publications in 2017, which will provide financial aid for researchers who wish to make a publication openly available after their BMBF-funded research project has ended.

Other important institutions in the German research landscape are the big research institutions such as the Max Planck Society, the Helmholtz Association, the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft and the Leibniz Association. German research organizations and funders actively support OA projects and initiatives.

Major research funders

The major research funder in Germany is the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) which has tied open access into its funding policy: “When entering into publishing contracts scientists participating in DFG-funded projects should, as far as possible, permanently reserve a non-exclusive right of exploitation for electronic publication of their research results for the purpose of open access. Here, discipline specific delay periods of generally six to twelve months can be agreed upon, before which publication of previously published research results in discipline-specific or institutional electronic archives may be prohibited.” Other funders like the Volkswagen Foundation (VolkswagenStiftung) support OA publishing in financial terms (see the overview at open-access.net). Beside nationally funded research, EU-funded research projects are gaining more and more importance in the last years.

Open Access and Repositories

In the federated environment of Germany, strong competition among universities and research institutions is stimulating - but also challenging – to the development of Open Access publication strategies and digital repositories. At present, there is no national OA mandate (compare ROARMAP), but a growing number of OA statements/policies of German universities and research institutions/organizations are in place. The most prominent statement in use is the 2003 “Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities”, signed by approx. 250 international research institutions/organizations (with >30 from Germany, including the German Rectors’ Conference which includes 258 universities and other HE institutions; the Max Planck Society, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the Helmholtz Association and the Leibniz Association).

Open Access Repositories

Many universities and research institutions in Germany run an institutional or discipline-specific repository, some of which are centrally managed by umbrella organizations. Today, there are over 200 OA repositories in Germany: 213 OAI repositories according to OpenDOAR, plus those listed by DINI and OAI service providers (like BASE and OAIster). The majority of German repositories are based on the OPUS software, followed by DSpace, MyCore, FEDORA and Eprints as well as locally developed software options. Over 40 repositories operate on platforms that are centrally managed by country-state library networks in Cologne, Berlin, Jena, Munich, and Constance.

The most relevant organization in Germany for supporting a national repository infrastructure is the German Initiative for Network Information (DINI). It has initiated several projects to support the technical development of a network of digital repositories and actively encourages the process of DINI certification. The certification process evaluates and improves the quality of publication services by referring to international standards and quality criteria. In consequence, the process improves data quality and conformity to enable services and the networking of repositories. Together with the DARE guidelines, the DINI certificate served as a basis for the DRIVER Guidelines for Content Providers.

Open Access Publishing

According to the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) there are 275 German OA journals. Some of these journals are hosted by OA journal platforms, but most are run individually by research institutions and learned societies. Important platforms which host OA Journals are:  Copernicus Publications, Digital Peer Publishing NRW, German Medical Science, Living Reviews. A new intiative in the open access publishing world is Open Access 2020 which builds on the Berlin Declaration and calls for the large-scale transition of scholarly journals from a subscription model to an open access model. Special responsibility in this regard is accorded to research libraries. Initial signatories from Germany include the German Research Foundation (DFG), the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK), the German Council of Science and Humanities (WR), the Max Planck Society (MPG), the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, the Helmholtz Association, the Leibniz Association, the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

Open Access projects and initiatives

There are also several projects in the field of Open Access. The most central ones are the following:

  • Information platform open-access.net: The main aim of the platform open-access.net is to provide detailed information about open access for scholars and other stakeholders. For example, scholars from different disciplines can find information about the OA culture in their respective communities, about OA journals and repositories etc. Moreover, information is presented from different user perspectives: authors, librarians, OA publishers, institutions running OA repositories and so on.
  • Network of certified Open Access repositories and related projects: In order to increase the worldwide perception and effect of the German Research contribution, the project "Network of certified Open Access Repositories” OA-Network seeks to intensify the national networking of repositories. It aims to virtually integrate all document and publication services with a DINI certificate and to increase the number of DINI certified repositories. These certified repositories easily blend in overall networks such as the DRIVER pan-European repository infrastructure (Repositories Infrastructure Vision for European Research).  Networking will not only be pushed forward organisationally, but also technically and infrastructurally.


Open Access Events

Germany regularly hosts the Open Access Days, the foremost Open Access and Open Science conference in the German-speaking realm. Since their inception in 2007, the Open Access Days have grown both in impact and participant numbers. They take place annually in the fall and are hosted by a different institution in a different German, Swiss or Austrian city each year. Its target audience includes OA-experts and advocates, researchers of all disciplines, librarians, representatives from publishing as well as research funders and supporters.


Useful links and resources

The state-of-the-art of the OA movement in Germany is described in several publications, for example the book "Open Access. Chancen und Herausforderungen" published 2007 by the Deutsche UNESCO-Kommission (also available in English: "Open Access. Opportunities and Challenges - a Handbook." European Commission / German Commission for UNESCO, 2008), and the special issue “Open Access”, Zeitschrift für Bibliothekswesen und Bibliographie, Vol. 54 (2007), Nr. 4/5 (in German).

Further information can be found on the central German open access website open-access.net which also lists current local news & events.


Contributors Contact Details

Anja Oberlaender
Library of the University of Konstanz

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Jessica Rex
Library of the University of Konstanz

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