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Open Access

In 2024, the Heidelberg University Library will again offer a DFG-funded publication fund. You can find information on this on the funding pages.

What ist Open Access?

The aim of Open Access is to make scientific literature and scientific materials freely accessible to all users: free of charge and as free as possible from technical and legal barriers.

Subject-specific Open Access information

The "" information platform bundles information and prepares it for various target groups. It also offers subject-specific information on OA in the life sciences. Experts from the life sciences have compiled information here, for example, on subject-specific repositories, relevant OA journals and general information on the dissemination and acceptance of OA.

The Budapest Open Access Initiative formed the basis for OA in 2001, followed two years later by the "Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities".

Ways to publish Open Access

Gold Open Access

Gold Open Access refers to the first publication (primary publication) of scientific articles as an Open Access publication. This primarily involves articles in OA journals that, like conventional scientific journals, use a peer-review process for quality assurance. However, publication can also take the form of a book, collective work or conference proceedings.

The publications are available to everyone worldwide free of charge, without additional deadlines, i.e. immediately after publication.

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Green Open Access

Green Open Access refers to the additional publication (second publication or secondary publication) of a document that has appeared in a publisher or journal on institutional or disciplinary Open Access publication servers (or repositories).

This can take place simultaneously with or subsequently to, for example, the expiry of an embargo on publication of the content in the publisher.

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Hybrid journals

In addition to the Gold Open Access journals, there are also so-called "hybrid" journals. These are conventional subscription journals whose publishers offer authors the opportunity to publish their articles in OA for a fee. Thus, in addition to the income from subscriptions, the publisher earns a second time through the OA fees. This model is controversial. While it is supported by some research funders, the German Research Foundation does not allow payment for such articles from the OA funds it supports. However, under DEAL contracts (see "Funding opportunities"), faculty members can have their articles published in hybrid journals from the publishers Wiley, Springer Nature and Elsevier released in open access free of charge.

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Subscribe to Open (S2O)

The "Subscribe to Open Mode" was developed by the US journal publisher Annual Reviews and implemented for the first time in 2020.

The model is based on existing subscribers holding on to their journal subscriptions. By doing so, they enable the publishers to generate enough income to publish the journals. If the subscription volume reaches the designated amount, the publisher commits to publishing all content of the S2O journals open access for the corresponding subscription year. However, as soon as the subscription volume falls below the critical level - this is the basic idea of the S2O model - the journal moves back behind the paywall. New content is then only made available to subscribers.

In connection with S2O, the term "Diamond Open Access" is also used. This means that in addition to the cost- and embargo-free use of the content, authors do not incur any costs for the publication of their scientific work. Read more here about Diamond Open Access.

In 2023, Karger-Verlag will test the Subscribe to Open model on two journals, "Pediatric Neurosurgery" and "Developmental Neuroscience".

For a list of OA journals that use the "Subscribe to Open" (S2O) model, see the Open Access Directory Wiki.

Information on (Open Access) publishing

Funding opportunities

Publishers often charge authors or their institutions a fee for OA publications, the so-called Article Processing Charge (APC). There are various ways to have these fees financed:

Publication funds and author discounts at Heidelberg University

Publication fund

Many universities have set up a publication fund, including Heidelberg University Library. These funds can be used for publication in Open Access journals.

Further information on the Open Access Publication Fund can be found at Heidelberg University Library:

Author discounts for Open Access publications

As a member of Germany-wide consortia, the University Library of Heidelberg University has concluded framework agreements with publishers. These allow the author to receive discounts on the APC.

The payment modalities and the verification of affiliation, which is necessary for granting a discount, vary greatly between the publishers.

More detailed information on author discounts and partly free hybrid OA can be found at Heidelberg UB.

Open Access Monograph Fund

The UB supports Open Access monographs that have been produced in the course of a DFG project with up to 5000 Euros. You can find more information here.

DEAL agreements

The Alliance of German Science Organizations negotiates the nationwide licence agreements with the major scientific publishers with the declared aim of offering participating institutions permanent access to the full texts of all articles from journals of the respective publishers as well as the possibility of Open Access publishing. More detailed information on DEAL can be found on DEAL Consortium.

Heidelberg University has also joined the nationwide contract with Wiley and Springer Nature negotiated by the DEAL consortium. Information for members of Heidelberg University on publishing in the journals of the publishers Wileys, Springer Nature and Elsevier can be found here:

Note for members of the faculty: Authors who have an employment contract with the faculty or enrolled doctoral candidates/students can use the following offers from the publishers Wiley, Springer Nature and Elsevier:

  • Wiley
    • Until further notice, you can publish Open Access in subscription journals with hybrid Open Access option of the publisher Wiley without additional costs (so-called "Wiley Online Open"). A discount of 20% is granted on publication fees in pure Open Access journals ("Gold Open Access"), the publication costs are invoiced to the authors via the University Library. Further information can be found at Publishing in journals of Wiley.
  • Springer Nature
  • Elsevier:
    • Gold Open Access: As Corresponding Author, members of Heidelberg University will receive a 20 percent discount on the list prices of publication fees of the Elsevier Fully Gold Open Access journals and a 15% discount on the list prices of the Fully Gold Cell Press and The Lancet journals for articles which have been accepted for publication from October 27th 2023 onwards.
    • Hybrid journals: If the Corresponding Author belongs to the University of Heidelberg the costs are covered by the university's contract; for the time being, authors will not incur any additional publication costs. More information can be found on the Heidelberg University Library website.


  • What are the requirements of funding agencies?

    Different funding agencies for research funding and research organisations such as the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Helmholtz Association, Max Planck Society and Leibniz Association are active in the field of OA and also take this into account in their funding programmes. While in Germany, OA publication is only recommended, institutions abroad make it mandatory to what extent publications that have been produced within the framework of funding must be published OA.

    General information on the requirements of research funding organisations with regard to OA is available in the database SHERPA/JULIET. For details, please refer to the funding guidelines of the individual institutions.

    More information on funding at and

  • Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)

    The Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) has developed an Open Access strategy for Germany (pdf). The Open Access clause calls for publications from BMBF-funded projects either to be published directly in Open Access (Gold) or to be placed in a suitable repository after twelve months at the latest (Green).

    The BMBF supports Open Access in that costs incurred for publication in an Open Access journal within the framework of project funding can be applied for with the project funds.

    Publications from completed BMBF projects are also funded from a post-grant fund. One of the prerequisites is that the funding period ended no more than three years ago (date of application). Further information at (German)

    The federal government's "Research and Innovation" funding advisory service is the first point of contact for all questions about federal research and innovation funding and provides guidance on funding opportunities offered by the Länder and the EU for research and development projects.

  • Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)

    The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) (DFG, German Research Foundation) called for Open Access in its guidelines as early as 2006. Unlike other research funding organisations, the DFG does not tie grants to an OA obligation. However, researchers are encouraged to make project-related publications available in open access.

    With funding programmes such as "Electronic Publications", "Scientific Journals" or "Open Access Transformation Agreements", the DFG nevertheless promotes OA indirectly via service and information institutions, for example by creating local publication funds for OA publications.

    In the current DFG funding programme "Infrastructure for Electronic Publications and Digital Scientific Communication", the DFG has made OA publications mandatory for the first time. Further information at

  • European Commission - Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe

    For projects funded under the European Framework Programme for Research and Innovation - Horizon 2020 - the publication of scientific results in Open Access is mandatory. After completion of the peer review process, the publications must be made available free of charge in such a way that they can at least be freely read online, downloaded and printed. In addition, measures are to be taken to further improve accessibility. This includes providing opportunities for copying, distributing, searching, linking, crawling and mining.

    The obligation initially applies only to peer-reviewed publications in scientific journals. For all other publications (e.g. monographs ect.), the rules are not binding, although OA publication is recommended. For more information, see Guidelines to the Rules on Open Access to Scientific Publications and Open Access to Research Data in Horizon 2020” und

    Similar requirements apply to the successor programme Horizon Europe, which runs from 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2027. For all peer-reviewed publications funded under Horizon Europe, immediate open access publication in a repository is mandatory. This also applies to monographs. The granting of a CC BY licence is mandatory. For monographs, CC BY-NC, CC BY-ND are also permissible. Publication fees in pure Open Access journals (Gold OA) during the project are reimbursed and should therefore already be taken into account when submitting the application. Costs for Hybrid OA are not reimbursed. A new feature is the publication platform Open Research Europe, which can be used to comply with Open Access requirements. The publication fees incurred for this are covered by the European Commission. The platform can also be used to publish results from Horizon 2020. Further information on the Horizon Europe portal of the BMBF and in the Annotated Model Grant Agreements (AGA) for Horizon Europe (draft April 2023).

  • cOAliton S and Plan S

    The cOAlition S, is an alliance of currently 26 international funding organisations (including the WHO, the European Commission, the Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council (UKRI) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation). With the Plan S strategy, the members intend to make all quality-assessed (peer-reviewed) publications resulting from their grants freely available from January 2021 without delay (i.e. without embargo period) and with a „Creative Commons Attribution CC BY“-Lizenz  (or an equivalent free licence) either on high-quality OA platforms, in OA journals or in open repositories that meet the required conditions.

    Immediate OA publication is possible in pure OA journals; furthermore, also in hybrid journals, provided they have credible transformation plans. The cOAlition S provides a Journal Checker Tool that allows quick orientation as to which journals are Plan S-compatible. Further information at

  • World Health Organization (WHO)

    WHO's open access policy aims to ensure that the published results of its activities are freely accessible and reusable by the public as an essential part of its mission. It is a member of cOAlition S and its open access policy is in line with the principles of Plan S .

    From 1 January 2021, all articles and chapters authored by WHO staff or individuals, or originating in institutions and funded by WHO, submitted for publication in peer-reviewed journals must be published in an open access journal or on an open access platform. Costs for publications in hybrid journals are now only covered in exceptional cases. For more information, see WHO Policy on Open Access.

Publications in the GMS publications of the Association of the Scientific Medical Society (AWMF)

The portal German Medical Science is the interdisciplinary portal of the Association of the Scientific Medical Society (AWMF). Founded with the German Institute of Medical Documentation and Information (DIMDI) and now operated in cooperation with the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) and ZB MED - Information Centre for Life Sciences, it offers free access to high-ranking and quality-checked medical articles. The project is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

GMS German Medical Science - an Interdisciplinary Journal is an interdisciplinary e-journal of the AWMF for the entire field of medicine, aimed at all those who work on and with scientific publications. Original and review articles from all medical disciplines are published. A prerequisite for publication under the umbrella of the German Medical Science portal is compliance with the goals of the Open Access movement and the licensing conditions of the German Medical Science portal. In order to enable Open Access for publications from research and science with GMS, a business model has been developed in which the costs - including peer review, editing, online hosting and archiving - are partly covered by publication fees. The fees are generally borne by the publishing societies and depend on the number of articles to be published. See also Autors Rigths, Journal Policy und Help & FAQ

Heidelberg University Publishing

Heidelberg University Publishing (heiUP) is an Open Access publisher for quality-assured scientific publications. The primary form of publication is online publication in various digital formats in open access. In addition to the freely accessible digital formats, a printed edition is offered (print-on-demand), which can be obtained regularly from bookshops. For the publication of manuscripts accepted by the publisher, the author or editor makes a contribution to the production costs. Further information at heiUP

Zweitveröffentlichungsrecht/Right of self-archiving

Even if your publication has already been published for a fee, you can publish it a second time under certain conditions and thus make it freely accessible online on a publication server (repository) or an institute website, for example on heiDOK, the Open Access repository of Heidelberg University.

There are special requirements for the second publication of publications that contain parts published elsewhere. The willingness of publishers to agree to a second publication varies. The contract concluded at the time of the first publication is decisive. Conditions and deadlines can be found in the contract or researched under SHERPA/RoMEO-Liste. The database collects information on the possibilities of additional provision of scientific papers already published or yet to be published by a publisher.

You can find a lot of important information on second publication rights/Right of self-archiving at:


What is Preprint?

Preprint" refers to scientific publications or manuscripts that have not yet undergone a formal peer review process. Publication in the form of a preprint is often used, for example, to obtain initial feedback from the scientific community or to share results promptly and freely with others. A preprint can later appear in either an open access or closed open access journal. Preprints count as grey literature and open access green.

Handling preprints

Although many journals accept preprint or parallel publication of submitted manuscripts, authors should enquire in advance about the conditions under which this is possible. Information - including on the preprint policy of journals - can be found on the platform Transpose (TRANsparency in Scholarly Publishing for Open Scholarship Evolution) or at Sherpa Romeo.

Citation of preprints

Authors should therefore enquire with a journal before submitting a manuscript whether preprints may be cited in the bibliography. The same applies to applicants seeking research funding or job applicants. Here, it should be clarified before submission to what extent preprints may be listed as a publication.

Preprint repositories

Preprints are increasingly made available on preprint repositories. These often have a subject focus. For the medical field, for example, medRxiv is a subject repository for preprints. In addition, there are also numerous offers from publishers and research funding institutions. The "List of preprint servers" platform provides an overview of preprint servers.

It is advisable to familiarise yourself with the respective terms and conditions of the preprint server before submitting, especially with regard to the types of articles that are accepted, as well as information on the preparation of the manuscript or licensing options.
It should be noted that preprints are now perceived as making scientific results accessible at an early stage and contributing to scientific discourse. Consequently, manuscripts should be prepared with the same care regarding good scientific practice as other publications.

The publications usually receive a persistent identifier, known as DOI, and are thus stably citable. As soon as an article has been published in a journal, the publisher's version should be linked to the preprint, indicating that a peer-reviewed version of the article has also been published. Who is responsible for setting the link - the preprint server, the publishing journal or the authors - should be clarified at the latest when the publisher publishes the version of record. Some preprint servers replace the preprint version with the publisher's version instead. Here, too, it is important to find out in advance who is responsible for this and what the corresponding workflow is.

The Publisso FAQs offer a lot of helpful information on the topic of preprints. Initial information on the extent to which archiving of articles from scientific journals is permitted, at what time and in what form, can be found in the Sherpa Romeo database.

Quality and seriousness of OA journals

The question of the quality of scientific publications is of central importance for the scientific community. Authors have a great interest in publishing their work in renowned journals, as this plays an important role in their scientific career. There are high-quality and low-quality journals. This applies to conventional journals as well as to OA journals.


The large number of new journals coming onto the market makes it increasingly difficult to keep track of relevant literature. Rankings can help to determine relevant journals in a given subject area.

Mostly, rankings are based on citation analyses that determine the impact factor. The more frequently a journal is cited, the higher its impact in the scientific community. Analogous to the studies on citation frequency, some OA journals already have a higher impact factor than comparable subscription journals in many disciplines.

A selection of journal ranking databases can be found here.

Decision-making aids for the selection of reputable OA journals

Unfortunately, there are also "black sheep" among the editors or publishers of OA journals, known as predatory publishers. These are only interested in publication fees, without adhering to the usual standards of good scientific practice.

The following criteria can help you to assess the seriousness of a journal:

Has the journal actually been evaluated in the "Journal Citation Reports" and thus has an "official" Journal Impact Factor (JIF)? It should also be noted in this context that journals can only receive a "Journal Impact Factor" in the third year after publication. However, dubious journals sometimes invent measures that are similar to the Journal Impact Factor or calculate it themselves on the basis of a different set of data.

  • Is the journal's web presence coherent or is it copied verbatim from other sites?
  • Is the journal actually evaluated by the databases mentioned?
  • Do the contractual agreements make a serious impression? In OA journals, the authors retain their right of use. In addition, publication fees are only payable after a publication has been accepted and the amount is clearly stated on the website. Contradictory information indicates inconsistencies.
  • Advice should be sought from peers or academic supervisors.

Selection Open Access Journal

Before submitting your research paper, check the reputation of the OA journal carefully. If you are not yet familiar with the journal or the publisher, the following websites offer information:

You can find more information on this topic at and

Persistent Identifier

To be able to reliably and permanently find, identify and cite electronically published data of any kind, you need a persistent identifier. A Persistent Identifier is a unique label for a specific digital object and always remains the same, even if the name or location of a publication changes.


ORCID is an independent, globally operating, non-profit initiative. An ORCID ID is used to uniquely identify scientific authors. With an ORCID ID, your research activities and publications are uniquely assigned to you, making them more visible and easier to find.


DOI stands for Digital Object Identifier and is a permanent and unique identifier for digital objects. It is mainly used for articles and contributions in scientific publications such as journals.

Bibliographic information on publications can be conveniently imported into an Endnote project via the DOI, for example, and entered into the author's own ORCID profile.

Legal issues and Creative Commons licences

Copyrights and rights of use

As authors, authors usually own all rights to their works. Through a publishing agreement or comparable forms of rights transfer, they assign so-called exploitation rights or rights of use to publishers.

You can find a lot of important information on copyright and rights of use in Germany at:

Creative Commons licences

Creative Commons is a non-profit organisation that provides ready-made licence agreements. The basic idea is non-profit. With the ready-made CC licences, it wants to help authors to make their works available for use by others quickly and easily and at the same time to use other works under this licence. There are a total of six different CC licences.

You can find a lot of important information on Creative Commons licences at:


Repositories offer standardised processes and a sustainable structure to collect and publish digital objects. The objects are clearly described by supplementary information (metadata); their storage location is unambiguous and citable. Objects and data can be accessed by third parties via technical interfaces and can be further shared and reused.

Basically, a distinction is made between institutional and subject-specific repositories. While institutional repositories are located at a single institution and cover a broad spectrum of disciplines, subject-specific repositories focus on a single discipline and include publications by authors from different institutions. Which type of repository you choose depends on your personal preferences and the subject-specific circumstances. In general, it is possible to deposit one's publications in several repositories, as long as the corresponding rights of use are available. Further information on repositories can be found at which is the most suitable repository for your publication?

heiDOK the Heidelberg Document Server is the Open Access platform of Heidelberg University. It offers members of the university the opportunity to publish their research results in Open Access.

Repository search options

Directory of Open Access Repositories this tool enables a worldwide search for academic open access repositories.

Registry of Open Access Repositories ROAR is, along with OpenDOAR, the largest directory for OA repositories. Its special feature is the manual addition of missing repositories.

DINI List German Repositories
A list of repositories with identification of those with DINI certification.

An interdisciplinary repository that records scientific publications and research data and assigns DOIs.
Registry of Research Data Repositories a directory for repositories that make scientific research data freely available. The aim of the platform is to provide orientation in the confusing landscape of research data repositories.

More Information at

Open Access Search Engines and Portals

BASE (Bielefeld Academic Search Engine)
A search engine for scientific documents. It is operated by Bielefeld University Library and provides access to the content and metadata of scientific document servers that are made available free of charge in open access.

Search engine of the University of Michigan and the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) to search the metadata of various document servers. The catalogue includes over 50 million records of digital sources from more than 2,000 participants and is one of the most important search engines for open access content.

OpenAIRE stands for "Open Access Infrastructure for Research in Europe", is strongly supported by the European Commission and aims to contribute to better discoverability and re-use of scientific publications and research data with its portal. OpenAIRE supports the implementation of Open Access and links research information such as publications, datasets, project information, organisations and author information in its search portal.

heiOPENsearch enables comprehensive searches within the publications and digitised historical collections made available by Heidelberg University Library on its own servers in open access. The collections and "pools" can be searched in heiUP, heiBOOKs, heiJOURNALS, heiDOK. Others are in the pipeline ( heiDATA)

Checks the free availability of scientific articles after entering DOI, PMID, title, URL or similar.

Plugin for Firefox and Chrome that checks the free availability of scientific articles and links to them.

Electronic Publishing (Open Access) at Heidelberg University Library

Open Access Policy Heidelberg University

In February 2013, the university adopted an Open Access Policy expressing its explicit support for this publication model. The university library has the task of coordinating the university's OA activities and supporting them with suitable offers.

Dr. Maria Effinger is Open Access Officer at the Heidelberg University Library

Open Access on publication platforms of Heidelberg University Library

  • heiUP – Heidelberg University Publishing is the university publishing house of Heidelberg University. The primary form of publication is online publication in various digital formats in open access. In addition to the freely accessible digital formats, a printed edition is offered (print-on-demand), which can be obtained regularly from bookshops.
  • heiDOK is the Open Access platform of Heidelberg University. It offers members of the university the opportunity to publish their research results in Open Access. Free access to around 16,000 scientific publications in accordance with the principles of Open Access publishing.
  • heiBOOKS The Open Access platform heiBOOKS offers scientists and scholars at Heidelberg University a timely and free publication option for scientific e-books. The platform supports both first publications ("golden path") and second publications ("green path"). The open source software OMP (Open Monograph Press) is used.
  • heiJOURNALS – Heidelberger OJS-Journals Heidelberg University Library offers researchers at Heidelberg University the opportunity to publish e-journals in Open Access free of charge. The university library provides the established Open Journal Systems (OJS) software for this purpose.
  • heiDATA is an institutional research data repository for archiving and publishing research data in cooperation with the University Computing Centre.
  • heiOPENsearch enables comprehensive research within the publications and digitised historical collections made available by Heidelberg University Library on its own servers in open access.
  • heiRIS – The modular research infrastructure of Heidelberg University Library
  • Research Data Unit (RDU) (formerly Competence Centre for Research Data) In accordance with the university's Research Data Policy offers researchers at Heidelberg University central services for archiving and publishing their research data. The Research Data Policy is a joint facility of the university’s Computing Centre and the University Library.

More information on the topic

For more information on the topic of Open Access, please visit:

  • The platform provides comprehensive information on the topic of Open Access and offers practical implementation assistance. It was set up as part of a DFG project by the Free University of Berlin and the universities of Göttingen, Konstanz and Bielefeld.
  • Publisso is the ZB MED an open access publishing platform for life sciences
  • Schwerpunktinitiative "Digitale Information" Open Access information of a joint initiative of the Alliance of Science Organisations to improve the supply of information in research and teaching.
  • DFG Open Access Information on Open Access on the website of the "Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)"
  • BMBF Open Access Information page of the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung
  • Leibniz Gemeinschaft Open Access Information on Open Access from the Leibniz Gemeinschaft

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