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Germany

Open Access to Academic Literature (DE0013)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Germany National Action Plan 2017-2019

Action Plan Cycle: 2017

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

E-Government, Education, Science & Technology

IRM Review

IRM Report: Germany Design Report 2017-2019

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Description: In Germany, science and research frequently receive public funding. Citizens wish to share in the results of such research. This can be achieved by making academic literature available free of charge on the Internet, for example. Researchers make their papers available on websites or in databases under the keyword “open access” without any legal or financial obstacles to the public. In addition to this simple access to academic literature, open access allows for new ways of disseminating scientific knowledge. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has launched a competition to fund innovative projects for further promoting the open access principle at universities and research institutes. The projects are intended to overcome existing reservations and obstacles for researchers to publish their literature on the Internet free of charge. Aim: Making open access to academic literature a standard for academic publishing so that the public can better share in the results of government-funded research. Currently, only some researchers decide to make their literature freely available on the Internet. To raise awareness of open access, we need specific projects which show how this principle can work in practice. The aim is to reduce existing reservations against new forms of publication and to improve the practical use of open access publications. In the medium term, we intend to make open access a standard method of academic publication in Germany. Status quo: The research community generally supports and promotes open access. In their Berlin Declaration, the large research organizations, the German Rectors’ Conference, the German Council of Science and Humanities and many European and international research institutions declared open access publications vital to fulfilling their task of ensuring comprehensive and free access to knowledge. A study showed that about 90% of German researchers think that providing open access to their literature will benefit their field of work. Despite this largely positive attitude towards open access, researchers often refrain from publishing their own articles as open access. Therefore, we want to support in particular those projects which complement existing possibilities to publish freely available academic literature in Germany, create new possibilities and improve the conditions for open access publications. Ambition: Establishing open access as a standard of academic publication in the German research community. Publications from government-funded research should be freely available to the public, if possible. New or ongoing: new Implemented by: Federal Ministry of Education and Research Organizations involved in implementation: - Organizational unit and contact: Division D1, Philipp Zimbehl, Philipp.Zimbehl@bmbf.bund.de, posteingangd1@bmbf.bund.de Open government values addressed: Participation, innovation, transparency Relevance: Open access makes government-funded research more easily accessible for the general public. This way, also people who cannot directly participate in academia can follow developments in government-funded research.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

13. Promoting Open Access to Academic Literature

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:

“In Germany, science and research frequently receive public funding. Citizens wish to share in the results of such research. This can be achieved by making academic literature available free of charge on the Internet, for example. Researchers make their papers available on websites or in databases under the keyword “open access” without any legal or financial obstacles to the public. In addition to this simple access to academic literature, open access allows for new ways of disseminating scientific knowledge. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has launched a competition to fund innovative projects for further promoting the open access principle at universities and research institutes. The projects are intended to overcome existing reservations and obstacles for researchers to publish their literature on the Internet free of charge.”

Milestones:

13.1 Collecting and reviewing the project proposals submitted for the competition to implement open access

13.2 Start of project funding

Start Date: June 2017

End Date: July 2020

Context and Objectives

The commitment focuses on “[m]aking open access to academic literature a standard for academic publishing so that the public can better share in the results of government-funded research.” The commitment builds on momentum in the science community and beyond to work toward more open access to scientific publications and broader research outputs. More specifically, the commitment focuses on providing financial support for initiatives that seek to create an enabling environment for open access publishing. It covers the implementation of a competition that the Federal Ministry of Education and Research launched in May 2017 to fund innovative projects that promote the open access principle. [50]

The milestones are generally verifiable. However, they lack specific links to the outlined ambition.

The commitment provides financial support for projects that seek to make it easier for scientists to publish their work via open access. Thus, it is relevant to the OGP value of access to information—in this case, for publicly funded research. Boosting open access in Germany is important, as it is estimated that up to 30 percent of scientific publications are currently made available in open access formats. [51] The commitment does not include provisions to directly support civic participation and therefore cannot be coded as directly supporting this OGP value. However, it should be noted that expanding public access to research is also a prerequisite for informed and effective civic participation. Even larger civil society groups focused on research and evidence-based advocacy can hardly afford sufficient access to the latest research outputs in journal databases or academic libraries. [52]

Despite the importance of open access and its explicit recognition by the government the direct, practical impact of the commitment is rated as minor. The commitment complements other initiatives by stakeholders across Europe that directly incentivise open access publishing. Those initiatives include the 2018 Plan S, supported by the European Commission, the European Research Council and over 10 large private and national public research funders from across Europe to open access to all published research they fund by 2020. [53]

Next steps

For future commitment design, the IRM researcher suggests adding the following:

  • performance targets and indicators to the funding scheme, which would help track outcomes and impact more directly. This could also entail front-loading aspects of the target to achieve 70 percent open access by 2025 as put forward in the ministry’s digital strategy in April 2019. [54]
  • a project evaluation and learning component to the funding scheme as a stand-alone action or milestone—if a commitment on open access is carried over in the next action plan;
  • an exploratory component that would assess collaboratively the open access needs of evidence-reliant civil society stakeholders, with the goal of incubating targeted initiatives in this area; and
  • activities to engage and involve stakeholders at the subnational state level.

[50] “Bekanntmachung,” Federal Ministry of Education and Research, https://www.bmbf.de/foerderungen/bekanntmachung-1369.html.

[51] Bundesverband Deutscher Industrie, Fraunhofer ISI, and Zentrum fur Europaische Wirtschaftsforschung GmBH, Innovations Indikator, 2018 http://www.innovationsindikator.de/fileadmin/content/2018/pdf/ausgaben/Innovationsindikator_2018.pdf; European Commission, Open Science Monitor: Trends for open access to publications, https://ec.europa.eu/info/research-and-innovation/strategy/goals-research-and-innovation-policy/open-science/open-science-monitor/trends-open-access-publications_en

[52] Participant observation by IRM researcher (who worked for more than 10 years as research manager for an NGO that is consistently ranked among the top 10 governance think tanks globally but cannot afford subscriptions to more than one or two journal databases).

[53] Plan S homepage, https://www.coalition-s.org.

[54] See https://www.bildung-forschung.digital/files/BMBF_Digitalstrategie_web.pdf.


Commitments

  1. Participatory development of research and innovation policy

    DE0022, 2019, Public Participation

  2. Participatory creation of regulatory policy

    DE0023, 2019, Public Participation

  3. Digital strategy pilot for rural regions

    DE0024, 2019, Public Service Delivery

  4. Open government in North Rhine-Westphalia

    DE0025, 2019, E-Government

  5. Policy co-creation in North Rhine-Westphalia

    DE0026, 2019, Land & Spatial Planning

  6. Data sovereignty in North Rhine-Westphalia

    DE0027, 2019, E-Government

  7. Open government portal in Saxony

    DE0028, 2019, Civic Space

  8. Open-source software in public administrations in Schleswig-Holstein

    DE0029, 2019, Subnational

  9. Regional Open Government Labs

    DE0016, 2019, OGP

  10. Civil Society Consulation on Foreign Policy

    DE0017, 2019,

  11. Create youth strategy

    DE0018, 2019, Marginalized Communities

  12. Craete federal agency for digital innovation

    DE0019, 2019,

  13. Transparency and participation in international aid

    DE0020, 2019,

  14. Strengthen and socialize open data policy

    DE0021, 2019, Open Data

  15. Conditions for OGP Participation

    DE0001, 2017, OGP

  16. Open Data in Administrative Practice

    DE0002, 2017, Capacity Building

  17. Open Data Environment

    DE0003, 2017, Capacity Building

  18. Access to Spatial Data

    DE0004, 2017, Capacity Building

  19. Financial Transparency - EITI Standard

    DE0005, 2017, E-Government

  20. Transparency in Development Policy

    DE0006, 2017, Aid

  21. Open Data for Intelligent Mobility

    DE0007, 2017, E-Government

  22. Citizen Participation in Environmental Policy and Urban Development

    DE0008, 2017, Capacity Building

  23. Electronic Procedures for Family Benefits

    DE0009, 2017, E-Government

  24. Knowledge Network for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex People

    DE0010, 2017, E-Government

  25. Local Alliances for Family Initiative

    DE0011, 2017, Public Participation

  26. Share of Women and Men in Leadership Positions, Private and Private Sectors

    DE0012, 2017, E-Government

  27. Open Access to Academic Literature

    DE0013, 2017, E-Government

  28. Science Year 2018

    DE0014, 2017, Public Participation

  29. Federal Competition “Living Together Hand in Hand”

    DE0015, 2017, Citizenship and Immigration