Open Access and Electronic Publishing

Berlin Declaration on Open Access

The Wissenschaftskolleg is signatory to the “Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities.” The goal of the open-access initiative is to make scholarly literature cost-free to all Internet users.

To the “Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities”

Green and Golden Roads

Essentially there are two different routes to open access – the green road and the golden road.  The “green road” is the second publication in an institutional or specialized repository, and the “golden road” is when the text was originally published in an open-access journal or as an individual open-access article in a licensed journal.

Further information on open access


The financing of publications in open-access publishing houses is done mostly through publication fees that are paid either by authors (author fees) or their institutions (institutional fees). It is to this purpose that numerous institutions and scientific communities make publication funds available, and it is through the “community fee” model that the financing is jointly borne by the scholarly network of a given field whose members are both authors and readers. An example of this is the journal Documenta Mathematica, whose low publication costs are paid by the German Mathematical Association. A similar consortium model within the specialist community is the Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics (SCOAP3), an amalgamation of research institutions, specialist societies and libraries that has as its goal the step-by-step transferral of the most important journals in the field of particle physics to open-access journals. Even commercial publishing houses are increasingly allowing their publications to be placed in open access. But the fees incurred here are mostly doubled because along with the publication fees there are subscription fees for printed editions. Because of the rapidly rising licensing and publication costs of large scholarly publishing houses, in 2011 the initiative “The Cost of Knowledge” opposed the double financing.

The Cost of Knowledge

Cost-Free Publications in Repositories

In the context of open access, the term “repository” designates databases that make publications and research findings electronically accessible to the public on a long-term and cost-free basis along with a permanent link (persistent identifier). In institutional repositories, scholarly institutions make accessible the publications of their staff. Thematic repositories obtain their content from scholars who work in those respositories covering their topic and are thus forums for individual disciplines. 

To the directory of Open Access repositories

Legal Parameters

Authors who wish to make their work accessible via open access should heed certain legal parameters. In publishing scholarly work, the rights of use for the publication must be worked out with the publishing house. In so doing, the authors will often enter into copyright agreements, for instance in the form of a contract of publication (copyright transfer agreement, license to publish). Important here is that they themselves have the rights to online utilization of their documents, which is not necessarily the case particularly in those instances where a work has already appeared in a conventional publishing house. You can consider adding a clause to the contract of publication in order to reserve non-exclusive rights of use for online utilization through a non-profit document server. Various scholarly organizations offer such contract supplements for downloading. If such an agreement cannot be reached with the publishing house, then each case of a submitted or reviewed manuscript must be doublechecked in order to ascertain to what degree publication is possible.  

To the “Author Addendum” of the SPARC Consortium

To the “Author Addendum” of the European Commission

Use of Licenses for OA Publications

Licenses are model agreements. It is through them that the rights of use of a work protected by copyright are transferred to the public. If a work is published without explicit transfer of rights of use, the public will only be granted an extremely restricted use of the work. Users are then limited to that scope of action which has been conceded by the national copyright in the location of use. If users are to be conceded more rights of use, an explicit transfer is necessary. This can be done in batches with the help of the organization Creative Commons, which has made available their eponymous licenses. The use of Creative Commons licenses is simple – all you need to do is place the suitable license icon on the title page or in the footers of the text. It should be noted that in terms of those authors wishing to award a Creative Commons license, for instance, such is dependent on their not having previously transferred exclusive rights of use to a publishing house. Creative Commons licenses only transfer simple rights of use. The fewer restrictions that a license contains, the better a licensed work can be disseminated and utilized. This is particularly the case when works with various licenses are compiled into a new work.  In such cases the restrictions that impinge on a work can then impinge on the entire collection.

To the Creative Commons licenses