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. Important institutions in the German research landscape are also 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 European research projects are gaining more and more importance in the last years.

Open Access and Repositories

In the federal environment of Germany, the 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 OA mandate (compare ROARMAP), but some OA statements 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 subject-based repository, some of these centrally managed by umbrella organizations. Today, there are about 150 OA repositories in Germany: 124 OAI repositories according to OpenDOAR, plus those listed by DINI (for more information about DINI see below) and OAI service providers (like BASE, OAIster, and Scientific Commons). 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 185 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

Open Access projects and initiatives

There are also several projects in the field of Open Access, a list of all projects can be found here. 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. They may access more general information, dedicated to the respective group/interests, by short articles, or via FAQs, providing answers for more practical issues.
  • 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.

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 (English version in preparation), and the special issue “Open Access”, Zeitschrift für Bibliothekswesen und Bibliographie, Vol. 54 (2007), Nr. 4/5. (mostly in German, author’s copies can be found here).

Further information can be found on the central German website on open access open-access.net, where also current local news & events are listed.


Contributors Contact Details

Anja Oberlaender
Library of the University of Konstanz


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