Germany has a strong OA awareness. Research players as well as the Federal Government and the Länder have initiated different activities to improve Open Access. The big research organisations and many institutions of higher education have Open Access policies. 

There is a great number of institutional and discipline-specific repositories in Germany, which are maintained mostly by universities and research institutes. According to ROAR, there are 167 OA institutional repositories. The German Initiative for Network Information (DINI) is supporting a national repository infrastructure. 

DOAJ indexes 349 German Open Access journals. These journals are hosted in part by OA journal platforms, in part by research institutions and learned societies. 

Important platforms which host OA Journals are: Copernicus Publications, Digital Peer Publishing NRW, German Medical Science, Living Reviews. 

Enabling Environment:

The major research organisations (Max-Planck-Society, Leibniz Association, Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, Helmholtz Association) have Open Access policies. There is a general consensus to encourage publication in Open Access journals or depositing in Open Access repositories.

The German Research Foundation (DFG) has tied Open Access to its funding policy: Recipients of DFG-Funding are expected to make their research results to be published and to be made available, where possible, digitally and on the internet via Open Access.

A similar Open Access clause is planned by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), which also is a major funder of research in Germany.

A secondary publication right has been adopted recently to strengthen Open Access. It has been incorporated in the German copyright act. Now, scientists and researchers have the legal right to self-archive their publications in the internet, even if they have agreed to transfer all exploitation rights to their publisher. The regulation applies to results of mainly publicly funded research, 12 month after the first publication using the author’s version. This right cannot be waived.

The Berlin Declaration has been initiated by the German Max-Planck-Society in 2003. The Berlin Declaration has been signed by 53 German Institutions, including the big research organizations including the German Rectors’ Conference which represents 258 universities and other HE institutions.

The DFG provides lump sums for covering publication costs including Open Access fees and also has a funding programme “Open Access Publizieren” by which universities can apply for funding in order to cover Open Access publication charges by university-based authors. From 2010 onward, the DFG financially supports so-called “Alliance Licenses” only under the condition that the publishers whose journals are licensed permit German authors and their institutions to deposit their articles from the licensed journals in Open Access repositories.

Research organisations are funding Open Access publishing, and / or have membership agreements with publishers on the central payment of publication fees for publications by their scientists in Open Access journals.

Within the BMBF-research funding of research projects publication costs including Open Access may be funded.

The open-access-platform provides detailed information about open access for scholars and other stakeholders. Moreover, information is presented from different user perspectives: authors, librarians, OA publishers, institutions running OA repositories, and so on.

Potential Barriers:

  • Awareness of OA amongst individual researches could be stronger.
  • Many, but not all universities have an open access policy.
  • Possible misunderstanding on issues of copyright and intellectual property.

Major Projects/Initiatives:

The major German research organisations work together in the Priority Initiative “Digital Information”. The goal of this initiative is to equip scientists and academics with the information and infrastructures best suited to facilitate their scientific work. One priority area of the initiative is Open Access.

The German research organisations are taking part in working groups on Open Access on an international level, e.g. the EUROHORCs working group on Open Access and Knowledge Exchange

National and Institutional Level Policies/Mandates:

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research supports Open Access. It also provides information on Open Access on it’s website and plans to develop an Open Access strategy in the new legislative term.

Details of Key Organizations:

Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina – National Academy of Sciences 

Deutsche Initiative für Netzwerkinformation (DINI)

German Research Foundation (DFG)
Overview: Main governing research funding organisation
OA mandate: Requires deposit of research output within 12 months.
Communication: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft , Kennedyallee 40, 53175 Bonn, Germany; e-mail: postmaster(at)

Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

Fraunhofer Gesellschaft
Overview: Fraunhofer is Europe’s research organization aimed  at improving health, security, communication, energy and the environment.
OA mandate: Requires deposit of research material in OA depositories within 12 months of publication.
Communication: Hanasastrasse 27c, 80686, Munich, Germany; e-mail: web contact form on site.

German Rectors’ Conference (HRK)
Overview: The German Rectors' Conference (HRK) is representative group of 258 universities (covering 96% of all students) and other higher education institutions in Germany.  HRK serves as the political and public voice of its representatives and focusses on all aspects of higher education research, knowledge and technology transfer.
Communication: German Rectors' Conference, Ahrstraße 39, D-53175 Bonn; e-mail: info(at)

Helmholtz Association

Overview: An association of 17 scientific-technical and biological-medical research centres leading government research in science and environment.

OA Policy:  No strict mandate. Gold OA road is encouraged, Green OA road is promoted through institutional repositories of the individual Helmholtz Centres. The Helmholtz Association was one of the initial signatories of the “Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities” in 2003. This commitment towards open access was then formally approved by its Assembly of Members (assembly of the directors of the Helmholtz Centres): ”Publications from the Helmholtz Association shall in future, without exception, be available free of charge, as far as no conflicting agreement with publishers or others exists.” (Resolution of the Assembly of Members, 27 September 2004).

Communication: Helmholtz Association, Berlin Office, Anna-Louisa-Karsch-Straße 2, 10178 Berlin; e-mail: open-access(at)

Hochschulrektorenkonferenz (HRK)

Leibniz Association
Overview: An association of independent research organisations established to promote science and research cooperation with each other and state and commercial research institutes.
OA mandate: No mandate. Green and Gold OA roads promoted through Leibniz repository.
Communication: Leibniz-Gemeinschaft, Bonn-Büro, Eduard-Pflüger-Straße 55 D-53113 Bonn; e-mail: info(at)

Max Planck Society
Overview: Major independent scientific research organisation of excellence with a demonstrated commitment to OA.
OA mandate: Institutional self-archiving of research output on the eDoc server and publications by its researchers in open access journals within 12 months.
Project web links: Communication: Max Planck Digital Library, Amelienstr.33, 80799 , München; e-mail: edoc-support(at)


Thematic Open Access projects/Initiatives

There are OA projects in publishing, journals, repository building and cooperation, licensing and networking listed with links. The following are a sample; many more are listed on en/communication/open access projects.

Past and Future OA Related Activities:

Study on Open Access Publishing (SOAP), EU funded project to assess OA publishing initiatives; now completed. organises OA events, OA week, workshops for members.

List of Publications

Podcasts, videos and presentations on OA in Germany are available 

Boosen, Martin (2008). Institutionelle Repositorien in Deutschland. Master's thesis. Fachhochschule Köln. (CC)

Braun, K., Buddenbohm, S., Dobratz, S., Herb, U., Müller, U., Pampel, H., Schmidt, B., et al. (2011). DINI-Zertifikat Dokumenten- und Publikationsservice 2010 (Version 3.1).Göttingen. Online

Dallmeier-Tiessen, S., Darby, R., Goerner, B., Hyppoelae, J., Igo-Kemenes, P., Kahn, D., Lambert, S., et al. (2011). Highlights from the SOAP project survey. What Scientists Think about Open Access Publishing. Online

Dobratz, S., & Müller, U. (2009). Wie entsteht ein Institutional Repository? – Eine systematische Hinführung in acht Schritten. cms-journal, (32), 47-54. Online

Fournier, J. Information, Infrastructure, Involvement: The open access agenda in Germany, 2007. In Berlin 5 Open Access: From practice to impact: Consequences of Knowledge dissemination, Padova (Italy), 19-21 September.

Georg-August-Universität Göttingen. (2005). Die Open Access-Politik der Universität Göttingen. Online

Humbold-Universität zu Berlin. (2006). Open-Access-Erklärung der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Online

Klump, J et al. (2006) Data Publication in the Open Access Initiative. Data Science Journal, 5, 79-83 Open Access.

Hagenhoff, S (2010) Open access in Germany Bulletin of the Transylvania University of Brasov, Vol. 3 (52).

Open Access-Strategien für wissenschaftliche Einrichtungen

Romary, L (2007) OA@MPS — a colourful view Zeitschrift für Bibliothekswesen und Bibliographie, Issue 4-5.

Scholze, F., & Maier, J. (2012). Establishing a Research Information System as Part of an Integrated Approach to Information Management: Best Practice at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).Liber Quarterly, 21(2), 201-212. Online

Seadle, M (2007) Who wins? Economic gain and Open Access Zeitschrift für Bibliothekswesen und Bibliographie, Issue 4-5.


(Modified on December 2013)

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