Open Access at HZB

Here you find a summary of what you may want to know about Open Access to publications by HZB authors. More general information about Open Access can be found elsewhere.

Are the works produced at the centre publicly accessible in the sense of Open Access?

They should be since mid-2006, when the publication regulations were amended accordingly. Since then, all publications from the Centre should be posted on the Institute's server. Here we are taking the "green road" to open access, i.e. access to publications via so-called secondary publications on the institute server. Since 2014 copyright law explicitly allows this offer.


Surely the publishers are the main obstacle to the process of open access?

No, that is not true. There are only a very small number of publishers whose copyright regulations (also known as copyrights) preclude the electronic distribution of journal articles by posting them on institute servers. Most publishers allow this, if their copyright regulations are observed! However, the further use of the contents is regulated very differently.

Do authors have to deal with copyright law?

Yes, because the authors are the authors and sign the publishers' contracts of use. They should understand in broad outline what they are signing. Even if they want to reuse content from other publications (e.g. illustrations) they must obtain the rights beforehand. This can be expensive or even impossible. With Gold Open Access (Licence Creative Commons By Attribution, CC-BY) you have these rights explicitly!

In the question of Open Access, the Centre stipulates that the library must conclude the additional contracts for Open Access (money is flowing) for the authors. You first conclude a contract of assignment (known as an author's contract) in which you hand over the right to publish to the publisher, and then another contract (for which payment is usually required) for the Open Access licence (CC-BY should be the rule) is concluded with the help of the library. The library is in charge of this process and can thus contribute its experience with publishers and also accelerate and simplify payments.


After all, there are archive servers where copyrights do not play a role. Why is that so?

Archive servers like Los Alamos' ArXiv have emerged as an innovative, fast replacement for the once common practice of sending preprints. They are used extensively in some communities, others reject them. However, they make no claim to completeness or that the documents stored correspond to actual publications. Copyright regulations of publishers also apply there if material is deposited there after signing the copyright.


Surely the major publishers should know everything about their copyright?

Yes, they should, although this can change over time. A major problem with Open Access, however, is that conference proceedings are a major problem if conference proceedings are not published as special journal volumes. In that case copyright is completely unclear. This applies to about 50% of the publications from the Centre and it is precisely such conference proceedings which are often not easily accessible.


Haven't I done everything by submitting voucher copies in PASTA?

The voucher copies are also handed in on paper in the library. Paper cannot be placed on the institute server. You are therefore obliged to upload electronic versions. The library does not store new paper versions anymore.


What if I hand in the specimen copy electronically?

The voucher copy shows the version in which the publication actually took place. For uploading, however, an electronic (pdf) version, which the authors have obtained themselves, is required - the secondary publication law allows this. This author's version should, of course, be identical in content to the published version, but it must not be exactly the same as the publisher's version. An exception are Gold Open Access articles, which are not stored on the institute's server. These are freely accessible at any time via the publishers and search engines with their DOI.

So the published publisher version and the Green Open Access version are different?

In the case of most publications, they are different in layout, but they should be identical in content. And that is what matters!


It's all too bureaucratic for me, couldn't it be easier?

Let us do the math. Making an (electronic) copy when signing the transfer contract takes max. 2 minutes. Pick it up and send it to the library if necessary, makes 5 minutes. On the happy day of the publication of your work, send the author's PDF to the library, that will take 5 minutes. Together we are 12 minutes extra work. If it could be easier, please tell us. We are happy to be contacted for anything.

With Gold Open Access, we will help you to deal with the publisher. Please talk to us beforehand! Once we receive the invoice from the publisher, it will be too late for changes and you may have wasted money and time, as the EU, for example, could have financed and handled the project! Important: You are not allowed to sign contracts other than the author's contracts for the transfer of use! Please contact the library.


Will there be a "golden road", i.e. Gold Open Access at HZB?

The "golden road" to Open Access means publishing in a journal that is openly accessible, i.e. not by subscription or licence agreement, as the library would otherwise conclude for you. There are such pure Open Access journals, such as PLoS One, Nature Communications or Scientific Reports. Highly respected open access journals have already established themselves.

Our sponsors (federal government, Berlin, EU, DFG...) encourage us to follow this path and offer special funding and services. In EU projects, OA is mandatory and is funded.

For 2018 we have reached an agreement with the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) to make all publications with corresponding authors of the HZB in their subscription-based journals Gold Open Access (these are so-called hybrid journals). A similar agreement exists with ESC.
In the DEAL project, such agreements were negotiated nationally with two publishers (Springer Nature and Wiley). In the long term, all their journals are to become pure Open Access journals. Publications in these publishers are particularly convenient for you. The fees are paid by the central budget of the library and the library is automatically included in the process.

Please avoid agreements on so-called color figures or cover pages. These payments do not generate any added value for HZB and should therefore be avoided. In case of doubt, please declare that HZB will not cover such costs. The publishers will certainly take this into account and waive the payments. It's worth asking!


I have heard that even Open Access journals cannot be free

Effective editing work cannot be in vain. After all, the work of the reviewers is not free of charge either; the institutes of the reviewers pay for this with the salaries of the reviewers.

These costs are no longer paid only by the readers, but by the publishers. Hybrid journals contain free articles and still cost subscription fees. The double payment associated with this is to be overcome by translating them into pure open access journals and special agreements with the publishers.


Some journals allow open access to be paid for and this is very expensive.

Yes, it is particularly expensive because the subscription or paid access to the journal must continue to exist as long as it is not Open Access in total. So those who pay for Open Access actually pay twice.


What could a publication according to the Golden Road cost?

The range is very wide, from 0 € to over 5000 € has already been paid. These are also "moon prices" that are now being demanded by publishers. Through DEAL and other translation contracts, an attempt is being made to keep the costs within the scope of the previous subscription costs overall.

Open Access according to the Golden Road cannot be free. But access to publications would have to be cheaper than at present, because it would eliminate the costs that are now available for marketing and distribution, not to mention the profits made under the current system. This added value will be redeemed, for example, in the DEAL negotiations against extended access to all journals.

Open Access publications are handled by the library, please contact us in advance! The costs still come from their cost centres (with the exception of hybrid publications in journals from RSC, ECS, Springer Nature and Wiley), we do not currently have a fund for this.

So it's not primarily about money when it comes to Open Access?

It is primarily about open access to publications from publicly funded research. It is about promoting research: everyone should have access to results and be able to advance research, in the interests of all those involved.

Money is also at stake if a person does not have the money to buy access to journals. But the fact that those who can currently still buy access may save money through Open Access can only be a side effect, albeit a pleasant one.