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Press Release No. 53 | 31 October 2011
Presenting Research Findings to Global Audiences

Success Stories Highlight the Importance of Open Access Publishing for a Variety of Participants / DFG-President Kleiner: Enhancing Access to Knowledge a Strategic Issue for German Research

Ensuring free and easy access to scientific knowledge and research data is the goal of Open Access publishing. The Open Access concept has gained ground on the international stage, particularly in Europe and the USA. In Germany, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) actively supports the growth of Open Access publishing across the scientific disciplines. Running from October 24-30, 2011, the “International Open Access Week” is an opportunity for German universities and research institutions to inform the public about ongoing and forthcoming Open Access initiatives, and to advocate for unrestricted access to research findings developed through publicly funded research. “Unrestricted access to scientific information enhances international exchange within the scientific community and boosts the international profile of German and European research efforts, making Open Access a strategic issue for German research,” underscored DFG-President Matthias Kleiner.

An English-language platform has been published online to coincide with this week-long event: www.oastories.org. Commissioned by the Knowledge Exchange network, of which the DFG is also a member, the platform presents portraits of projects alongside interviews with representatives of initiatives from eleven participating countries, showing how a variety of participants have benefited from the publication of research findings on Open Access platforms. German proponents include the world leading e-journal for qualitative social research: “Forum: Qualitative Social Research” (FQS). Founded in 1999 and supported by the DFG throughout its pilot phase, this trilingual Open Access publication (www.qualitative-research.net) has made a name for itself as a research journal while also positioning itself as a network for researchers in this field. FQS-founder and editor Dr. Katja Mruck explained: “We are (...) part of a truly international and truly interdisciplinary community. This is completely different from the situation in 2000. Completely. Open access has helped us to get international.”

To establish a strong international profile and relevant networks, Open Access has to be adapted to the specific needs and requirements of different disciplinary cultures. In order to address specific disciplines, one also needs to shift the attention from the scientific journal, the main publication organ for research findings in the life and natural sciences, towards monographs, which continue to figure as the medium of choice (and prestige) in the humanities. In an ongoing drive to identify new and suitable funding and cooperation models, the DFG-funded cluster of excellence “Topoi” has initiated a pilot project in collaboration with publishing house de Gruyter. The project aims to supply curated Open Access editions of monographs alongside the usual high quality print editions, which remain an indispensable resource for many researchers. The pilot project has been implemented through a new edition launched by de Gruyter in 2010, “Topoi. Berlin Studies of the Ancient World”. The first volume in this series (“Babylon: Cultures of Knowledge in Orient and Occident”) has already been published. It remains to be seen whether or not this cooperation model will in fact meet with success in the humanities, which are still strongly focussed on print publications (books).

Another cooperation model has, however, already made its mark: peDOCS, (www.pedocs.de).This Open Access platform for Education Studies has established cooperative agreements with 25 relevant academic publishing houses in the first three years of its existence. The project facilitates the online publication of important research articles in the publisher’s version – in this case as secondary publications. A number of partners have granted access to entire volumes of journals, while others have provided access to selected articles from recent anthologies. With the DFG’s support, peDOCS has been integrated within the electronic specialist portal “Pädagogik”, providing enhanced searchability and unrestricted on-screen access to information and research resources.

The DFG’s long-term objective is to ensure that all researchers at universities and research institutions enjoy quick and free access to sources, data, and research findings. To this end the DFG actively promotes the Open Access paradigm through targeted initiatives. The DFG has a strong ally in the “Alliance of German Science Organisations”, which launched its “Digital Information” priority initiative in summer 2008. The initiative is committed to the vision of a comprehensive digital research environment that will provide researchers and teaching staff with direct, on-site access to relevant information, databases, and platforms. Successful open access projects and initiatives will undoubtedly play an indispensable role in the realisation of this vision both now and in future.

Further Information

For information on the legal, organisational, and technical aspects of Open Access, please contact:

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