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.

There is a great number of institutional and discipline-specific repositories in Germany, which are maintained mostly by universities and research institutes. As of July 2015, OpenDOAR registers 172 OA institutional repositories. The German Initiative for Network Information (DINI) is supporting a national repository infrastructure. 

DOAJ indexes 354 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. The Directory of Open Access Scholarly Resources (ROAD) currently lists 49 Scholarly Blogs. Germany is indexed to have the highest number of scholarly blogs.

The big research organisations and many institutions of higher education have Open Access policies. ROARMAP registers 22 OA policies.

Enabling Environment:

In recent years, German universities and research organisations have developed a growing need to improve knowledge about their research outputs and impact. This stems from the German Excellence Initiative (which funds outstanding research projects and institutions, selected through a nation-wide competition), institutional and funders’ open access policies, international rankings of universities and, last but not least, from building up publication funds to support open access publishing.

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.

German universities and funding agencies have official open access policies, these OA policies have not resulted in an enforced mandate. Instead, organizations like the Federal funding agency, the DFG, and the Federal Ministry of Research and Education, have provided support for the implementation of open access in a number of interesting ways, ranging from the creation of publication funds to changes in the copyright law. The German OA activities have also been closely linked to activities supported by the European Commission.

The “Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft” (DFG) is the main research funding body in Germany and supports the implementation of open access in multiple ways. The Federal Ministry of Research and Education has intensified its activities over the last few years and has been supportive of the new copyright law.

The German open access community has developed a range of tools and services—many of them with initial funding from the DFG—, a certificate that sets standards and best practices for repository services (DINI Certificate), a network of open access repositories and services on top of repositories, and a collaboration of university presses. A registry of research data repositories has been recently launched. These national projects are linked to international activities through collaboration with COAR, Knowledge Exchange, OAPEN, DOAB and other initiatives.

Internationally, recent statements by research funders and organisations expressed the need for joint action to further the uptake of open access, e.g. the Global Research Council (May 2013) and the G8 Ministers for Science and Education (June 2013). The European Commission has been a driver of open access for several years, from 2008 with an open access pilot for the Seventh Framework Program and moving on to a mandate for Horizon 2020, the new framework program for research starting in 2014. Open access to publications will be obligatory to publications while a pilot for open data will be optional and only apply to selected research areas. Since 2009, the EC-co-funded initiative OpenAIRE supports the implementation of the EC’s open access policies. 

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:

Research Data Publishing, Research Data Alliance Outputs Workshop, Munich, Germany, February 19, 2015.

20-21 January 2015: "Exploring the Future of Scholarly Communication & Academic Publishing", Berlin, Germany. The core themes were:

- The Communication of Scientific Results
- The Road Ahead? We have celebrated Webat25, but what comes next?
- The Future of University Presses
- US Policies for public access to scholarly publications and data
- Mandatory Licenses: Are author’s rights being infringed?
- Is Peer Reviewing a Publisher Value Add only?

Overcoming Obstacles to Sharing Research Data, Academic Publishing in Europe 9 Conference, Berlin, Germany, January 29 2014.

International Open Access Week celebrations:

  • 23 October, 2014: Workshop "Why Open Access Matters" held at Leuphana University, Luneburg, Germany.

8-9 September, 2014: German Open Access Days 2014 in Cologne.

26-27 March, 2014: International Science 2.0 Conference in Hamburg:  The first International Science 2.0 Conference brought together the library community, the scientific community and other stakeholder groups affected by the changes in scholarly communication. The conference was dedicated to the latest scientific trends, developments, challenges as well as best practices in the area of Science 2.0. It provided an excellent framework for networking among international researchers from different scientific disciplines and practitioners from libraries. The programme included invited talks from internationally recognized experts. The Science 2.0 conference was organized by Goportis, the Leibniz Library Network for Research Information, and the Leibniz Research Alliance Science 2.0.

German Open Access Days 2013 in Hamburg: From 1-2 October 2013 the german speaking Open Access Community came together in Hamburg to promote open access as a new norm in scholarship and research. The event was hosted by the Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Hamburg and the ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft. It covered the different essential aspects of open access. This event was hosted by the Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Hamburg and the ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft. Study on Open Access Publishing (SOAP), EU funded project to assess OA publishing initiatives; now completed. organises OA events, OA week, workshops for members.

Open Science and Open Data Related Events

February 2016: Open Science Days 2016

This conference was directed at fostering interdisciplinary communication about Open Science between researchers and specialists and was organized by the Max Plank Society.

The focus area within Open Science was that of Citizen Science, which tries to have a growing involvement of amateur/non-professional scientists in the research process. This conference discussed whether this could be an important element of the research process in the future.

January 2016The European Open Science Cloud: INDIGO at the Helix Nebula Open Day Event

Cloud computing, innovation and Open Science have become European priorities. Many stakeholder groups continue to contribute to this goal.

This event aimed to converge on a model for the European Open Science cloud that can be widely accepted by research infrastructures and their user communities.

The event also presented the recent outcomes of the joint exercise on how H2020 e-Infrastructure projects help researchers, to which INDIGO-DataCloud, together with several other e-infrastructure in Europe, have contributed.

List of Publications

"The Determinants of Open Access Publishing: Survey Evidence from Germany" by Thomas Eger, Marc Scheufen, Daniel Meierrieks published in European Journal of Law and Economics June 2015, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 475-503

28 April 2015: "Disrupting the Subscription Journals' Business Model for the Necessary Large-Scale Transformation to Open Access": A Max Planck Digital Library Open Access Policy White Paper. By Ralf Schimmer, Kai Karin Geschuhn, Andreas Vogler.

26 February, 2014: A Global View of Open Access-Part 5: A Perspective on Open Access in Germany. Blog by Tony Hey "Tony Hey on e-Science"

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.



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