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FAQ: Open Access


The exchange of knowledge and the critical examination of results are vital aspects of research. This means that researchers must assimilate the work of others and disseminate their own findings as widely as possible. However, high licence fees for electronic publications often make this exchange of knowledge difficult, particularly at international level, and the research data on which the published results are based often cannot be represented in conventional media, or at least not in a form that is suitable for subsequent in-depth use. By contrast, open-access publications which are available online free of charge can be consulted without any restrictions, making raw and primary data available for productive reuse. The status of electronic publication varies between disciplines; in some subjects it is controversial, and its development is still in flux. Yet recent experience suggests that open-access publications are now cited more frequently than conventional publications and attract considerable attention from the academic community; their comprehensive supporting data provides a broad basis for innovative research. So on 22 October 2003 the DFG signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, signalling its commitment to supporting the advancement of knowledge by promoting freely accessible online electronic resources. More recently, in spring 2016, the DFG signed the Expression of Interest of the OA2020 initiative.

In January 2006 the DFG's Joint Committee adopted a set of guidelines for the publication of results from DFG-funded projects on an open-access basis. These guidelines stipulate that if possible, recipients of DFG research grants should make their results available online in digital format and free of charge, either instead of or in addition to traditional publication. The guidelines recommend publication in suitable open-access journals or the retroactive provision of previously published papers in open-access repositories (cf. DFG form 2.00 – 12/15, p. 44).

No. The general guidelines for use (DFG form 2.00 - 12/15) contain the following provision on types of publication:

“Project results arising from projects funded with DFG resources should be published and preferably also published digitally and made available free of charge on the Internet on an open-access basis. Articles should either be submitted to discipline-specific or institutional electronic archives in addition to traditional publication by a publisher or published directly in peer-reviewed and/or renowned open-access journals. If project results are only published in a print publication, a copy must be submitted to and handed over to the DFG in an electronically archivable form (PDF document).” (p. 44)

Please note that publications must always be clearly identified:

“Publications must contain a reference to DFG funding. Only the following wording may be used. In German, the DFG and the project must be named as follows:

“Gefördert durch die Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) - project number(s)”.

In foreign-language publications, a translation by the DFG may be added in the target language (e.g. in English: “funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) – project number(s)”. (p. 43).

To promote open access the DFG works closely with partners in Germany, Europe and the rest of the world. As part of the Digital Information Alliance Initiative, the DFG is supporting the introduction of an inalienable second publication right. Through organisations and networks such as Knowledge Exchange, Science Europe and the Global Research Council, the DFG is also working at European and international level to influence the transformation of academic publishing from a subscription-based to an open-access model. In spring 2016 the DFG signed the Expression of Interest of the OA2020 initiative.

DFG-funded authors can also take advantage of the publication allowances available through individual grants and coordinated programmes to pay the processing fees that may be required by open-access journals.

The DFG also offers funding programmes which can be used to establish open-access infrastructures and services:

A flat-rate publication allowance can be applied for as part of the proposal to carry out a research project. In the case of individual grants, for example, the DFG makes available a publication allowance of €750 or in the case of book publication €5,000 per year of DFG funding. This allowance can also be used to pay the fees for the publication of open-access journal articles or open-access monographs.

If the fees for open-access publication exceed the approved publication allowance, then with flexible funding it is possible to increase the publication allowance by reducing the staff funding or allowance for direct project costs within the same grant.

The DFG does not accept proposals which only request funding for open-access publication.

Additional Information

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