Last updated on 
05 January 2021

National Open Access Desk

University of Konstanz
University of Konstanz
  • Overview

    Very few countries offer such a diverse landcsape in higher education as Germany. Germany is currently home to 390 Higher Education establishments and over 250 public research institutions. Most of the higher education institutions are publicly funded (240), however a significant percentage of private universities exist which historically played a subordinate role but in recent times have gained increasing popularity.

    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 this Excellence Initiative. Furthermore, 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.

    national overview

    Support and Landscape

    National Initiatives

    The major research funder in Germany is the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) which has secured 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 the publication of previously published research results in discipline-specific or institutional electronic archives may be prohibited.” The DFG 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 Beside nationally funded research, European research projects are gaining importance in recent years. Another prominient aspect of the German research world are the large research institutions including: the Max Planck Society, the Helmholtz Association, the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft and the Leibniz Association, al of whom actively support OA projects and initiatives.

    The OA movement in Germany is frequently referred to in related community 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).

    national landscape

  • Open Science Policy

    National Policy

    In the federated environment of Germany, competition among universities and research institutions is stimulating, yet also challenging to the development of a national Open Access policy. Presently, there is no national OA mandate, however 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).

    national policy

    Funder policy

    The major research funder in Germany, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), has secured open access into its funding policy: “When entering into publishing contracts, researchers 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.

    funder policy

    Institutional Policy

  • Infrastructure & EOSC

    Key networks & Aggregators

    Many universities and research institutions in Germany run an institutional or subject-based repository, some of these centrally managed by umbrella organizations. Today, over 270 OA repositories exist in Germany: 275 OAI repositories according to OpenDOAR, plus those listed by DINI (for more information about DINI see below) 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 federal 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) having 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.

    national infra

    Data repositories

    Much like with literature repositories, the German data repository landscape is both complex and highly federated. Many universities and research institutions control their own data repositories, which according to re3data there are over 400 such repositories in Germany. In April 2017, the German Council for Scientific Information Infrastructures (RfII) issued a discussion paper recommending the creation of a national research data infrastructure (NFDI) designed to link, augment and complement already existing infrastructures.

    national data repos

    National publishing initiatives

    According to the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) there are 265 German OA journals in existence. Some of these journals are hosted by OA platforms, but most are run individually by research institutions and learned societies. Important platforms hosting OA Journals include: 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 upon the Berlin Declaration and calls for the large-scale transition of scholarly journals from a subscription based model to an open access equivalent. Responsibility for which is afforded 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) established a post-grant fund for open access publications in 2017, which provides financial aid for researchers wanting to make a publication openly available after their BMBF-funded research project has come to an end.

    National agreements with publishers

    Project DEAL: Project DEAL is an initiative by the Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany. Its goal is to negotiate and complete 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 whilst expanding access to academic literature including some sort of Open Access.

    The involvement of 268 German universities, research institutions and state libraries raises hope that new contracts will be negotiated and changes inevitably made. Negotiations started in 2016, and concentrate on the three biggest publishers in the German market: Elsevier, Springer Nature and Wiley. As press releases state, negotiations with Elsevier were unsuccessful. Although approximately 300 institutions have cancelled their contracts with Elsevier, consensus could not be reached so far with negotiations being temporarily adjourned in July 2018.

    In January 2019, a deal with Wiley was 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 (APCs) for Wiley’s gold open access journals. The contract also includes perpetual access to all 1.700 Wiley ejournals.

    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. A discount of 20% on APCs for Springer Nature's gold open access journals can now be realized. 

    Source and further information:

    OA books

  • Training & Support

    Information can be found on the central German open access website which also lists current local news & events as well as on the central German RDM information page
  • Statistics

    {include_countrynumber PUB DE} OA publications in {include_countrynumber DATASRC DE} repositories
  • News

    19 October 2020
    Virtual environment, perfect organization: On September 15th, Germany, as an OpenAIRE partner, teamed up with the organizers of the Open Access Tage 2020 at Bielefeld University for the national workshop on OpenAIRE initiatives and the EOSC. Due to the pandemic, the Open Access Tage 2020 was transferred to the digital world under the perfect organization of the team from Bielefeld University of Ap...
    28 February 2020
    The "Good Practice Exchange" (GPE) program of OpenAIRE is aimed to support National Open Access Desks colleagues (NOADs) and consortium members in 2020 to visit another consortium partner to exchange and learn about Open Science aspects, such as "Embedding Open Science Practices", "Open Science Policy and its Practical Alignment in an Institutional Context", "National Coordination of Open Science ...
    03 July 2018
    A new open access project called OLH-DE has launched at the University of Konstanz. Started March 2018 and funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the project seeks to further promote the Open Library of Humanities (OLH) in Germany. The OLH is an England-based scholarly-led non-profit organisation for publishing open access journals from all over the humanities. It is funded by a...
    02 July 2018
    Last year, German Parliament passed a controversial copyright reform bill known as UrhWissG (Gesetz zum Urheberrecht für die Wissenschaft) which came into effect in March 2018 and will be subject to review after a 5-year period. The review had become necessary over concerns that major changes in the academic landscape due to the digital revolution had rendered previous laws outdated. The freshly a...
    02 March 2018
    Workshop Report: Berlin, Germany, 1-2 february 2018. For the third time, the “” network met for a two-days workshop at the Free University of Berlin, Germany. The event was organized by the head of the expertise network, the Center for Digital Systems (CeDiS), and attended by about 70 participants from German speaking countries and Denmark. “”, funded by the German Research Fou...
    20 October 2016
    The Open Access Days (Open-Access-Tage) is the foremost annual Open Access and Open Science conference in the German-speaking area. Its target audience includes OA-experts and advocates, researchers of all disciplines, librarians and representatives from publishing as well as research funders and supporters. This year they were held on October 10th-11th and were hosted by the university library of...

flag black white lowOpenAIRE has received
funding from the European 
Union's Horizon 2020 Research and
Innovation programme under Grant
Agreements No. 777541 and 101017452.


  Unless otherwise indicated, all materials created by OpenAIRE are licenced under CC ATTRIBUTION 4.0 INTERNATIONAL LICENSE.
OpenAIRE uses cookies in order to function properly. By using the OpenAIRE portal you accept our use of cookies.