Open Acess

Free access to publicly funded research

Free and open access to the outputs of publicly funded research offers significant social and economic benefits as well as aiding the development of new research. Maximising the distribution of these publications – by providing free, online access – is the most effective way of ensuring that publicly funded research can be accessed, read and built upon. In turn, this will foster a richer research culture.

Open access has become increasingly relevant since the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge was published in 2003. Peer-reviewed open access journals with high impact factors have gained respect and great acceptance in the scientific community.

Advantages of open access publications for authors

  • increased visibility, usage and impact for their work
  • results of international co-operations or interdisciplinary research can be published quickly and easily
  • authors maintain all rights to their publications (CC licences, however, cannot be changed retrospectively - a document published under a CC BY ND license, for example, cannot be published again under a CC BY NC license, any new publication must also carry the CC BY ND license)
  • self-archiving is possible on OPUS (green open access) and satisfies open access requirements of public funding agencies

Why do funders demand open access?

Research is mostly publicly funded. When the result is submitted for publication it is peer-reviewed by fellow researchers. Their time is also publicly funded. Finally, publicly funded libraries are forced to pay increasingly large sums of public money to buy access for the researchers of their institutions. They are increasingly unable to buy access for all publications needed and researchers go without. Therefore, the call for open access to publicly funded research has become more and more persistent over the years.

There are several ways to publish open access:

The Gold Road

The gold road to open access – also known as gold OA - refers to the primary publication of scientific and scholarly works as articles in OA journals, as OA monographs, or as contributions to openly accessible edited volumes or conference proceedings. These texts normally undergo the same quality assurance process as their closed-access counterparts - usually peer review or editorial review.

  • The researcher goes straight to an open access journal and publishes his or her article there,
    for example BioMed Central or Public Library of Science (PLoS)
  • Open access journals are usually financed with article processing charges paid by authors, their institutions or the funding agencies.

The Green Road

The green road to open access - also known as self-archiving or green OA - refers to the practice of providing OA to a version of a work published in a closed-access journal or with a closed-access publisher by depositing it in an openly accessible institutional or disciplinary repository. Documents that can be self-archived include preprints and postprints of scholarly articles as well as other document types such as monographs, research reports, and conference proceedings.

Many publishers allow authors to self-archive a version of the article in a repository like OPUS. However, conditions and restrictions are frequently imposed. For example, authors are often obliged to observe an embargo period between the publication date and the date on which the document is made openly accessible online.

A novelty in German Copyright Law (§31, 4 UrhG) stipulates that authors have the right to self-archive in a repository independent of any original closed-access contracts if they received a minimum of 50% public funding for their research and the research is published in a journal etc that is published at least twice a year.