The German mandate for open access to research

Germany’s Ministry of Education and Research has put in place a strategy for open access to research publications funded with public money

Open access scientific publications are made available to the public free of charge via the Internet – in a digital magazine, on a website, or in an online repository. This means that anyone can access the articles, read and share them.

Under a new policy introduced in Germany, all research funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) will have to be open access. The measures are intended to begin the process of establishing open access as the standard model for scientific publishing in the country.

The new strategy to support public and open access to research was introduced in Autumn 2016. It follows growing impetus in the European Commission and among various member states to move towards a new publishing model and embrace what Commissioner Carlos Moedas has called a “free-to-read culture”.

Presenting the strategy in Berlin, Federal Research Minister Professor Johanna Wanka said: “It is important to me that the results of research funded with tax money are available free of charge to the general public. We need to make these opportunities stronger.”

News ways of using open access

One key measure is the introduction of an open access clause which means all scientific articles from BMBF funded projects should be published directly under an open access model, or made available after an embargo period.

Researchers are still free to choose whether and in which journal or magazine they want to publish.

Many publishers have already developed online open access services, or offer authors the opportunity to publish online as well as in a print publication. The repercussions, it is hoped, will spread more widely across society by removing paywalls to knowledge.

“We want to strengthen the existing initiatives and to show new ways of using open access. Free access to knowledge is a step towards social development,” added Wanka.

In 2016 year, the BMBF distributed around €5.5 billion (£4.72 billion) of funding to universities and research institutions across Germany.

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