The German Research Foundation (DFG) supports open access (OA). As early as 2006, the DFG’s Joint Committee adopted guidelines for the provision of OA to the results of DFG-funded projects. However, although these guidelines urge funding recipients to provide OA to publications generated by DFG-funded projects, they are not mandatory.
The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) also promotes OA. On an information page on its website, the ministry calls for the strengthening of OA. However, no mention is made of the use of OA as a publishing option in funding guidelines.
Like the DFG and the German Council of Science and Humanities (Wissenschaftsrat), the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK) has signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, thereby committing itself to actively promoting OA.
The Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany, whose members include the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the DFG, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the Helmholtz Association, the HRK, the Leibniz Association, the Max Planck Society and the German Council of Sciences and Humanities, aims to “promote funding for the ‘golden road’, define criteria for the adoption of open access publication fees, work to increase the content of open-access repositories, and collaboratively support international open access infrastructures”.
Most of the aforementioned member organisations of the Alliance have also issued their own position statements and guidelines on OA, for example the Helmholtz Association, the Max Planck Society, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, and the Leibniz Association.
In a report published in 2013, the Commission of Experts for Research and Innovation established by the German federal government advocated the promotion of OA, citing as justification its innovation-enhancing effect. In keeping with this, the coalition agreement between the CDU/CSU and the SPD several times emphasised the importance of a comprehensive OA strategy. The main objectives are access to teaching materials and scientific networking. In the ScienceBlogs, Christian Reinboth has provided an overview of the positions on OA adopted by individual parties in their manifestos for the German federal election in 2013.
The so-called Heidelberg Appeal was a special case in the German debate on OA. In 2009, Roland Reuss, a scholar of German language and literature, used the appeal to mobilise opposition to the digitisation of copyrighted works by Google Books and to OA. The appeal took the form of a petition that was signed by numerous scholars, scientists, and publishers, as well as by non-scholarly authors. The Heidelberg Appeal came in for intense criticism by many authors, scholars and scientists, for example the Coalition for Action “Copyright for Education and Research”. Among other things, it was accused of conflating two separate issues – digitisation by Google, and OA. On the other hand, it was pointed out that the appeal incorrectly postulated the existence of an obligation to publish scientific and scholarly documents in OA. Critics saw the appeal as a campaign on the part of the publishing industry to promote business-friendly but science-hostile copyright.
In its Directive of 17.07.2008, the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) requires that grantees provide OA to all SNSF-funded research results. The SNSF’s OA policy, which is mandatory in principle, allows embargos of up to six months for the deposition of journal articles in repositories, and permits certain exemptions. Up to CHF 3,000 in financial assistance is provided from project funding for publications in purely OA journals. In July 2014, the SNSF’s OA policy was extended to book publications. Analogous to the funding of the publication of journal articles, financial support is now provided for digital book publications, provided they are made accessible in a disciplinary or institutional repository after an embargo period of no more than 24 months. Exceptions can be made only in the case of insurmountable legal and/or technical barriers. Moreover, the SNSF awards publication grants towards the costs of publishing digital books (incl. theses and dissertations) that are produced independently of SNSF research projects.
In January 2008, the Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences (SAHS) issued recommendations to its member organisations for the implementation of OA. SAHS actively promotes the development of the digital humanities, and the conversion of its subsidiaries’ journals to OA. Another member of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences, the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences (SAMS), published a position paper on OA in 2014.
In the Swiss University Conference funding programme 2013-2016 P-2 “Scientific information: access, processing and safeguarding”, open access to publications and data is one of the strategic objectives for the improvement of universities’ information supply. Concrete implementations of OA at national level are financially supported.
Together with national organisations in Switzerland, most Swiss universities have signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities. A number of universities have drawn up OA policies in which their researchers are obliged in principle to provide OA to their publications.
The Austrian Science Fund (FWF) supports and promotes free online access to scientific and scholarly publications and research data, and requires that OA be provided to publications resulting from FWF-funded research.
In 2012, the Open Access Network Austria (OANA) was established under the organisational umbrella of the FWF and Universities Austria (UNIKO). OANA’s mission includes coordinating the OA activities of the Austrian research organisations, funding agencies, and research policy, and adopting a common position vis-à-vis information providers (especially publishers). Moreover, OANA sees itself as a point of contact and a source of information for scholars and scientists, research organisations, and (research) policy.
The three-year collaborative project e-Infrastructures Austria was initiated in January 2014. Its overall objective is to build and develop repository infrastructures for teaching and research in the whole of Austria. The topic of “research data” is also an important part of the project. A large-scale survey on the handling of research data at Austrian research organisations was conducted in 2015.
In the USA, mandatory OA for publicly-funded scientific content has been the subject of sometimes quite controversial debate. In late 2011, for example, an unsuccessful attempt was made to put an end to OA mandates in the USA with a bill entitled the Research Works Act (RWA). Shortly afterwards, an almost antithetical bill entitled the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) was introduced, whereby publications resulting from publicly-funded projects would be made freely accessible six months after publication, at the latest. A current bill, the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), is pursuing similar objectives. However, only federal agencies with annual external research expenditure of over 100 million US dollars would be affected.
The European Commission supports OA in its research and innovation policy and has set itself the goal of pushing OA forward both at European and member-state level. As early as 2007, it issued a policy paper to this effect. In its Guidelines for Open Access, the European Research Council (ERC) has taken the same pro-OA stance, and both UNESCO and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) have adopted a similar position.
Another project that supports the OA movement is the Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), an international alliance of academic and research libraries that promotes and develops the most cost-effective alternatives to conventional publishing strategies. By contrast, the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) is a body that represents the interests of OA publishers with the aim of expanding and developing gold OA for book and journal publications.
Furthermore, an increasing number of higher education institutions are committing themselves to the idea of open access and are facilitating cost-free archiving and free access to scientific and scholarly documents in their repositories. A set of standard measures that higher education institutions and other organisations in this area are expected to fulfil is progressively developing. The information brochure Open-Access-Strategien für wissenschaftlichen Einrichtungen – Bausteine und Beispiele (Open Access Strategies for Academic Institutions – Building Blocks and Examples), which was produced by the Open Access Working Group of the Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany’s priority initiative “Digital Information”, can be regarded as a blueprint for such sets of measures. It provides a detailed description, and in some cases concrete implementation examples, of measures to build and operate a repository or set up an OA publishing house; steps to establish publication funds from which publication fees charged by OA journals can be paid; and other activities to anchor OA at scientific and scholarly institutions.
The Registry of Open Access Repository Material Archiving Policies (ROARMAP) provides an overview of institutional undertakings and policies on OA.
An overview of research funders’ OA policies can be found in the University of Nottingham’s SHERPA/JULIET database.