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FAQ: Open Access Publication Funding

Frequently asked questions

Relationship of the "Open Access Publishing" funding programme to "Open Access Publication Funding"

Until when is it possible to submit proposals under the "Open Access Publishing" programme?

The programme will be discontinued at the end of 2020. No further proposals can be submitted under this programme. The programme's funding guidelines continue to apply to ongoing projects.

Can institutions that still have ongoing projects under the "Open Access Publishing" programme also use "Open Access Publication Funding" to submit proposals?

Yes that is possible, by deducting the DFG funds they still have available for golden open access publications in the corresponding period. In most cases this will only apply to 2022.


Does an institution have to have completed implementation of Good Research Practice (GRP) before applying?

If your institution has not yet implemented GRP at all, i.e. not even in the old version, please get in touch with us right away. In this case, proposals cannot be processed.

See this page for details: DFG – German Research Foundation – Good Research Practice

Is it permissible for non-university research institutions to submit proposals under the "Open-Access-Publication Funding” programme?

Yes, non-university research institutions can submit proposals. The head of the institute or the body with legal capacity should submit the proposals. A form (DFG form 12.201) can be used to delegate authority regarding the submission of proposals.

Can higher education institutions submit proposals?

Yes, higher education institutions at which OA publications are issued are also eligible to submit proposals. Private higher education institutions are likewise eligible to submit proposals if they are state-approved.

Does DFG funding only relate to publications in the context of DFG projects or can anyone apply to receive open access funds?

Each institution that incurs open access publication costs can submit proposals. Albeit funding needs in the second phase of the programme can only be calculated based on publications arising from DFG research funding.

What is the funding period? For how many years is funding acquired?

The funding period is the period to which the proposal relates, i.e. the period following the year in which the proposal is submitted (“publication year”). If for example a proposal were submitted for a three-year funding period in 2021, the funding period would be 2022-2024. For information on the possibility of retroactive funding, please see below.

Differentiation in the two programme phases

Why is there a differentiation between open access articles and open access books in the first phase?

All eligible open access articles by an institution's correspondence authors who are liable to pay a fee can be taken as a basis for the funding calculation in the first phase, but only open access books where the author or editor is employed at the institution and the content of which arises from DFG research funding. This differentiation was introduced because the financing responsibility by DFG for the publication costs of books can take effect earlier, as the origin of books is easier to determine. In addition, the "Publication Grants" programme still exists and can in future also be used to raise open access funds for books that do not arise from our funding.

Why can funding needs in the second phase only be calculated based on open access articles that arise from DFG funding?

The reason for this is that the second phase of funding aims to gravitate towards the principle of financial responsibility. So only articles that demonstrably arise from a DFG research project can be used to form the basis of a needs calculation. The set allowance per article increases to €1,400 to account for this.

Calculation of funding needs

Will the data basis for a needs analysis be standardised in some way or is it left to the proposer to develop suitable methods and explain them in the proposal?

The development of suitable methods is left to the proposer. The guidelines clearly regulate the basis on which the funding needs calculation is to be undertaken. Proposers must make and substantiate plausible assumptions regarding their needs in the proposal; these may also include foreseeable transformative agreements.

The Open Access Monitor at Forschungszentrum Jülich offers a service to support the calculation of eligible publications and can be used to find out previous publication volumes. Use of this service is not mandatory, but it can be very helpful for a comparison with data from internal systems or in cases where no internal data is available. The Open Access Monitor provides instructions on how to submit a proposal: please refer to the latest version on the Open Access Monitor homepage.

A separate guide is available for the calculation of retroactive funding.

Does a needs calculation exclusively cover the open access publications of affiliated correspondence authors or also their co-authors?

Only those open access publications by correspondence authors liable to payment who are affiliated with the proposing institution are to be used as the basis, excluding publications that are not eligible for funding. If the first author is required to pay fees, this publication can also be funded in exceptional cases (providing no other institution bears the costs).

“Required to pay fees” here means that costs are incurred by the institution. This can also be the case through memberships of preprint servers or other consortium models (including Diamond Open Access). With SCOAP3, the consortium payment is based on the publication share, but the number of publications that come from the respective institution is the deciding factor when making the application. It is possible to apply for funds if the institution participates in SCOAP3-DE.

What is the set allowance that can be proposed per publication? Does it differ according to disciplines?

  • Proposals in the first phase can be made for €700 per eligible open access article and €5,000 per eligible open access book.

  • Proposals in the second phase can be made for €1,400 per eligible open access article and €5,000 per eligible open access book. The flat rate does not differ according to research sectors or disciplines.

As of which publication year can funds be applied for?

The proposal always refers to the publication years following the submission, i.e. in 2021, funds are applied for the publication years 2022 ff. An exception is made for ongoing transformative agreements: here, the entire period of the agreement can be taken as a basis, i.e. in addition to publications that fall within the funding period, funds can also be requested retroactively (see below) for publications issued by the institution participating in the agreement. This option to apply retroactively only applies to hybrid publications whose funding is regulated by the agreement, not to Gold OA articles. It is only available to institutions that show a deficit in terms of the advance payments on a subscription basis in the event of publication-based accounting. Funds requested retrospectively to cover a deficit must be shown separately in the proposal.

How do you determine whether a transformative agreement is sufficiently "transformative" that resulting publications are eligible?

Please align your proposals to the agreements cited at ESAC and/or cOAlition S. The review session also determines whether agreements are considered to be eligible.

Please align your proposals to the agreements cited at ESAC and/or cOAlition S. If you are participating in an agreement that is not listed, please specify it and include the publications in the calculation. The review session also determines whether agreements are considered to be eligible.

Must transformative agreements be concluded in Germany, i.e. must the institution be an explicit party, or is it sufficient if the publisher has a transformative agreement elsewhere?

The proposing institution must be or planned to be party to an agreement in the period for which the funds are requested.

What is meant by retroactive application for funding?

In the first funding phase (proposals submitted in 2021, 2022, 2023), institutions can also apply retroactively for funds for hybrid publication components under transformative agreements that would require subsequent payments because no previous funding was available to cover these OA costs. Funding for Gold publications (i.e. in Gold OA journals) cannot be applied for retroactively, only prospectively, even where this falls under a transformative agreement.

This option is aimed at those institutions that have a greater financial burden to bear than before due to the use of accounting based on the number of publications, who consequently show a deficit in publication-based settlements in relation to subscription-based payments.

This means that costs incurred for OA publications under transformative agreements (e.g. DEAL agreements) from 2019, 2020 and 2021 can be included in applications submitted in 2021 providing the institution is a party to the agreement, or was a party to the agreement during this period, and has received or expects to receive a request for compensation payment.

The retroactive application period is the start date of the current agreement or of the hybrid OA publication opportunity under the agreement. The end of the retroactive application period is the start of the proposed funding period. The subsidies are intended to help cover the publication-based cost share (e.g. the “Publish” share in the case of “Publish & Read” fees) and only relate to those articles for which there are underlying requests for compensation payment (or might be for the publication years 2020 and 2021).

This means that when applying for funding retrospectively, it is only possible to acquire subsidies multiplied by the number of articles underlying the deficit (i.e. where back-payment requests apply).

  • Example: Institution x submits a proposal for 2022-2024 in 2021. It can claim costs for hybrid publications underlying requests for compensation payment under current agreements (e.g. DEAL Wiley from July 2019 until the end of 2021, Springer from 2020 until the end of 2021). What counts here is the number of articles where costs are not covered by advance Publish and Read payments and for which back-payments may be requested.
  • A separate guide is available for the calculation of retroactive funding.

Following this logic, an institution can also apply for funding for OA transformative agreements that expire at the end of 2021 if back-payment options based on the number of publications are available as part of the internal accounting of transformative agreements.

In addition, it can apply for (anticipated) funding to cover participation in an agreement in the coming years. All articles under DEAL agreements can be considered for funding prospectively as of 2022.

The funds for back-payments can be acquired to allow for back-payments to be covered even if such additional payments do not ultimately have to be made. In this case, the funds go into the total budget and can be used for future articles; here, however, the total funds spent may not exceed the number of eligible articles during the proposed funding period; excess funds remain with the DFG or are reimbursed.

If approved, funds applied for retroactively can be expected to be blocked and can only be called up if proof of the compensation payment is submitted.

Retroactive application for funding does not affect the maximum funding period; only the proposed funding period counts here.

If you are applying for funds retroactively, please indicate separately in the proposal under 6.1 the number of publications to which the application for retroactive funding applies as well as the total amount of funding being applied for retroactively.

This option to request retroactive funding in the case of transformative agreements is to be distinguished from the calculation of funds to cover article volume estimates for the proposed funding period. The latter should be made based on the three previous years and include plausible assumptions for the future. Here, all (anticipated) articles under the transformative agreements can be included in the calculation.

Do the true-up payments or compensation payments charged under DEAL via accounting based on publication numbers (PABA) have to be made if funds are requested for them via the Open Access publication costs programme?

No. You can also apply for these funds in advance so as to have the option to cover back-payments. The retroactively requested funds can only be used for this purpose however, as the funding logic of the programme is publication-based and the PABA is adapting the funding structures to the Open Access transformation.

Can all articles from the DEAL agreements be included in the calculation for future publication years?

Yes, except for “non-research articles” under the Springer agreement, see below.

What does the programme define as eligible “research articles”?

“Research articles” are publications which convey scientific knowledge. This includes articles of the categories original paper, review paper, brief communication, etc. Under the DEAL Springer agreement in particular, non-research articles are defined as a separate category (Hybrid Publishing, Section This category of article is not eligible for funding.

Does this funding represent a departure from the ceiling of €2,000 per APC, which was envisaged in the "Open Access Publishing" programme?

No and yes. This ceiling applied to Open Access Gold and there was also an orientation towards this figure envisaged in the DFG "Open Access Transformative Agreements" announcement on publication costs in relation to hybrid journals. DFG considers adequate remuneration for the publishing service to be proper, and it has now set the subsidy at a maximum amount which it believes to be sufficient for a good, sustainable publication service. However, research institutions are now free to define their own ceilings for the (gross) APC and to provide co-funding at a level they deem necessary.

Is it possible to finance publications from the institutions' own publication infrastructures (e.g. OA journal, OA publisher) via funds from this programme?

Funds can also be used for this purpose if the publications of the institution's authors appear in these publication infrastructures and are quality assured in open access. This applies to all so-called Diamond journals/infrastructures, i.e. publication outlets operated by publicly funded institutions or infrastructures supported by collective funding which generally do not charge authors directly for publication services, but may be supported by the institution through collective funding.

No subsidies are available for dissertations published via the university server if this forms a part of normal services provided by the university. Subsidies can be provided for books published by a university press, for example, where additional costs are incurred.

Should I set out the requested funds in a table?

Yes, please feel free to include tables where possible, especially under 6.1, showing the period and amount of funding you are requesting.

What do I have to include under 6.1 in the application?

Here you should state the number of publications for which you seek funding. Please provide a breakdown according to publishers/publication platforms and differentiate between articles and books.

You should justify the estimate for the application period based on past publication data.

Be sure to provide separate details of numbers and funding amounts for retroactive applications. Please state how you arrived at this number (e.g. true-up calculation by MPDL Services GmbH, extrapolation for 2020, 2021).

You should use clearly structured tables as far as possible.

What happens if the calculation of the funds required was too high?

In this case, do not request disbursement of those funds you do not require.

What happens if the calculation of the funds required was too low?

In this case you can submit a supplementary application as soon as it becomes clear that the funds will not be sufficient or that more eligible publications will be produced during the application period.

Use of funds for eligible content

Can funding be proposed for a Gold OA article that arose from a project not funded by DFG?


When requesting article numbers in Gold journals, Procedure A of the Open Access Monitor can be used. Articles can also be funded if the journals are not listed in the DOAJ but quality assurance is guaranteed. Here we ask institutions to check on a case-by-case basis.

Can I use DFG subsidies of €700 for Gold OA articles that are more expensive than €2000?

You may apply for funding for Gold OA publications for 2022 and subsequent years. If you then use funds from the Open Access Publishing programme, however, this is only possible subject to the conditions of this programme, i.e. only for Gold OA articles under €2000.

If you do not have funds for Gold OA articles under the Open Access Publishing programme, you can also use the subsidy from the Open Access Publishing Costs programme for articles that are more expensive than €2000.

It is not possible to apply for Gold OA funds for 2021.

Can my institution make flexible use of the total amount of funding approved?

When using the funds, the total amount of DFG funds spent must correlate with the number of eligible publications during the funding period. Here, a distinction has to be drawn between articles and books.

It is not necessary to account for €700 EUR per article; DFG funds can be flexibly included in an integrated budget and reinforce the institution’s total funds. However, it must be possible to provide evidence of the actual use of DFG funds (e.g. for a specific segment of eligible publications). All eligible publications must therefore be verifiable, even if no DFG funds are used for them.

  • Example: In 2023, 70 articles of an institution are eligible for funding. The institution can therefore use an amount of €49,000. It can share this amount of €49,000 among 40 articles, but it must be able to provide evidence of all 70 eligible articles and their funding.

In the case of OA books, the funds may only be used for publications resulting from DFG research funding.

Can research content that is only freely accessible after the expiry of an embargo period be funded via this programme?

No. Secondary publications are not eligible for funding.

Nor can articles that have been paid for via hybrid APC and undergo secondary publication be included in the calculation or financed from DFG funds.

Can the institution's authors use the funds to publish preprints?

Yes, if these preprints incur costs, e.g. due to membership fees or contributions to infrastructures. However, it is only permissible to use DFG funds once per "aggregate state" of a publication, i.e. not for the preprint and the open access article.

What does quality assurance of the content mean in terms of this programme?

Quality assurance in terms of the programme is defined in such a way that scientific debate and its documentation must be assured before or after publication. This can take the form of community peer review or post publication peer review. Good research practice applies to all publications funded by the programme.

Legally secure reuse of the funded publications must be ensured, that are regulated by means of CC or other licences that enable reuse as defined by the Berlin Declaration. The guidelines (DFG form 12.21) lists standards that serve as orientation.

Are there particular funding guidelines for this programme?

Yes, the funding guidelines for the programme will be available in a special section of the Funding Guidelines (DFG form 2.00) from 2021.

Which funding purposes are definitely not possible?

  • Use of the funds for non-research articles
  • Funding of publications in “mirror journals”
  • Fees for submission charges, page charges, colour charges, etc.
  • Use of the funds for opt-out articles, i.e. articles that do not ultimately appear in open access
  • Use of the funds for administration fees associated with publication
  • Funding of individual articles in edited volumes
  • Use for conference proceedings if the publication is financed from other sources (e.g. admission fees, membership fees).

Externer LinkFurther information on "mirror journals"

How does the disbursement process work?

The disbursement process is no different from other DFG procedures. You may request disbursement of funds after approval using the relevant funding provision form. No list of publications is required for the disbursement of funds.

Project-internal publication funds from DFG research funding. The Open Access Publication Costs programme and project-internal publication funds from DFG research funding

Can individual researchers propose open access funds to the DFG or is funding only arranged via institutions?

Only the institution’s management or a duly authorised individual can submit proposals under the Open Access Publication Funding programme. Individual researchers can however also use their project-internal publication funds from the research funding for open access purposes.

Must funds for open access publications in the context of DFG research projects be specifically submitted in the proposal for the DFG research project?

No, the proposal remains unaffected by this. "Project-internal publication funds" can still be proposed under general research funding.

Is it still possible to propose "project-internal publication funds" within DFG research projects?

Researchers can continue to directly propose "project-internal publication funds". The DFG does however recommend that researchers contact the central information units when open access publications are involved, so that double funding is avoided.

Does the funding of "open access publication costs" occur in addition to the grants for "project-related publication expenses" that are awarded directly to the researchers?

Yes, but the grantee must ensure there is no double funding of the same publication. "Project-related publication expenses” can however be used to co-finance open access publications.

What regulates the introduction of a funding acknowledgement for publications that arise from DFG funding?

The introduction of funding acknowledgements is regulated in the "General section" of the DFG Funding Guidelines (see DFG form 2.00, section 13). Each grantee (author) is individually responsible for this insertion. In the programme context, however, it may be appropriate for the proposing institution to draw its institutional authors' attention to this DFG requirement.

Supplementary note: The University of Göttingen’s rapid test provides an overview of individual aspects that are relevant to DFG funding, including the coverage of publications with ORCID links and the use of funding acknowledgements: