Very few countries offer such a diverse higher education landscape as Germany: Germany currently numbers 390 Higher Education and over 250 public research institutions. Most of the higher education institutions are financed publicly (240), 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 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.” The DFG also offers a number of funding schemes aimed at enabling open access publication (Open Access Publishing Programme) and the development and implementation of open access infrastructure (Infrastructure for Electronic Publications and Digital Scholarly Communication Programme).
Other funders like the Volkswagen Foundation (VolkswagenStiftung) support OA publishing in financial terms (see this overview at open-access.net). Beside nationally funded research, European research projects are gaining more and more importance in the last years.Another key player 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. They actively support OA projects and initiatives.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).
In the federated environment of Germany, strong competition among universities and research institutions is stimulating - but also challenging – to the development of a national Open Access policy. At present, there is no national OA mandate, but some 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).
As of 2020, 72 German universities and other higher education institutions had a published OA policy, according to ROARMAP.
All of the 4 big research associations have open access policies:
The major research funder in Germany, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), 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.”
In 2016, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) also published an Open Access strategy. On an information page on its website, the ministry expresses its support for the strengthening of Open Access. A BMBF directive on the funding of Open Access entered into force in June 2017.
According to the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) there are 265 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 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. The Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) 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.
Project DEAL: Project DEAL is an initiative by the Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany. Its goal is to negotiate and conclude nationwide license agreements with major academic publishers for their entire range of ejournals. Changes in prices and availability of content shall be made to reduce costs and use institutions’ financial capacities more efficiently as well as expand access for academics to academic literature including some sort of Open Access.
The involvement of 268 German universities and research institutions as well as state libraries raises hopes that new contracts will be negotiated and changes made. The negotiations started in 2016 and concentrate on the three biggest publishers on the German market: Elsevier, Springer Nature and Wiley. As press releases state, negotiations with Elsevier prove to be unsuccessful. Although around 300 institutions have cancelled their contracts with Elsevier, no consensus could be reached so far and negotiations have been temporarily adjourned in July 2018. In January 2019, a deal with Wiley has been achieved resulting in the first Publish and Read (PAR) contract with German institutions. The PAR fee is calculated yearly on the basis of publications per institution and allows all submitting corresponding authors of participating institutions to publish open access (generally under CC-BY) in all of Wiley’s ejournals at no further cost, as well as a 20% discount on Article Processing Charges for Wiley’s gold open access journals. The contract also includes perpetual access to all 1.700 Wiley ejournals. Very similar conditions apply to the contract with Springer Nature published in January 2020. Since then it is possible for all submitting corresponding authors of participating institutions to publish open access under CC-BY in almost all of Springer Nature's ejournals with a PAR fee paid by the insitutions. The second part of the contract, addressing publications in Springer Nature's gold open access journals at 20% discount will be valid from August 2020.
Source and further information: https://www.projekt-deal.de/about-deal/
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