Open Access in educational science

An article published a decade ago (Schaffert, 2004) described the then-current status of open access (OA) in the field of German-language education research. Today, some of the main academic journals in this field are still closed-access only (e.g. Zeitschrift für Pädagogik). However, many of the OA journals and repositories that had just been founded at the time have succeeded in firmly establishing themselves, and then-new OA initiatives have since been further developed and expanded. Nonetheless, it cannot be overlooked that a number of the start-ups no longer exist and some of the OA journals have since ceased publication.

There are several OA journals and repositories in German-language educational science, and a number of conventional publishers enable their authors to provide open access to their works. Commitment to OA publishing and self-archiving is particularly strong in the subfield of technology-supported learning, as are activities in the area of open educational resources (OER, often abbreviated as OER in German as well), a sister movement of OA.

The doctoral thesis of Doris Bambey (2016) gives an overview:
Fachliche Publikationskulturen und Open Access. Fächerübergreifende Entwicklungstendenzen und Spezifika der Erziehungswissenschaft und Bildungsforschung.

Open Access journals

The following is a selection of links to German-language OA journals in educational science. These journals are fully open access - that is, all their articles are openly accessible:

  • bildungsforschung (ISSN 1860-8213) | an interdisciplinary journal of educational research established in 2004
  • bwp@ (ISSN-1618-8543) | a vocational studies and business and economics education journal established in 2001
  • elearning and education (eleed) (ISSN 1860-7470) | a bilingual (German and English) journal of e-learning established in 2005
  • PhyDid (ISSN 1865-5521) | a journal of the didactics of physics at schools and higher education institutions established in 2002
  • widerstreit-sachunterricht (ISSN 1612-3034) | a journal devoted to discourse on Sachunterricht, a subject taught at primary school in Germany that aims to familiarise pupils with scientific and technical phenomena and with social, technical, and historical aspects of their own local area; established in 2003

These are just some examples of the German-language OA journals in education. To search for further, or new, OA journals, please consult the Directory of Open Access Journals.

Disciplinary repositories

The following is a selection of disciplinary repositories and archives that are freely available online:

  • Pedocs: This repository contains electronic full texts in educational research and educational science (DIPF – Leibniz Institute for Research and Information in Education)
  • DIPFdocs is the institutional repository of DIPF
  • The German Institute for Adult Education (DIE) makes a range of texts on adult education openly accessible via
  • Scripta Paedagogica Online is a digital text archive on the history of education in the German-speaking area. It contains numerous historical educational journals, directories of school teachers, and school programmes.
  • In Switzerland, scholarly journals are currently being digitised and made freely accessible online within the framework of the project. This project focuses on journals published in Switzerland, and also covers historical issues. Several journals in the field of education are included.

Literature searches in educational science

When conducting literature searches in German-language educational science, the central point of access is the German Education Portal, where, for example, the German Education Index database can be searched, or a metasearch can be conducted across this and other databases (e.g. ZDF - Katalog für Unterricht und Bildungsmedien, ZeitDok - Zeitungsdokumentation Bildungswesen).

The following article gives a general, albeit no longer up-to-date, introduction to literature searches in educational science:

The following chapter in an edited textbook on technology-supported teaching and learning also provides a detailed presentation on literature searches. The contribution is not only of relevance to users in the area of technology-supported learning but to all those who work in the field of educational science.

Key players

The website of the German Educational Research Association (GERA; in German: DGfE) does not feature any position statements on OA, nor has the association signed the Berlin Declaration for Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities. However, GERA publishes an OA journal (Zeitschrift "Erziehungswissenschaft") as do other professional associations in German-language educational science, for example the Forum Neue Medien in der Lehre Austria (Zeitschrift für Hochschulentwicklung). Some associations provide OA to conference proceedings, for example the Gesellschaft für Medien in der Wissenschaft (Society for Media in Science) (GMW), whose proceedings (e. g. 2008) are published by Waxmann Publishing. As a rule, research organisations also publish an OA version of their scholarly magazines. One example is the German Youth Institute's (DJI) quarterly magazine DJI IMPULSE.

Academic journals in educational science are often published by committed individuals who keep the journal going with the help of their institutions (employers) and volunteers. In some cases, third-party funding and/or sponsorship is, or has been, availed of for this purpose. For example, the Austrian OA journal on adult education magazin has received ESF funding, and the vocational studies and business and economics education journal bwp@ receives sponsorship.

A number of scholarly publishers actively support OA publishing (sometimes against payment of a fee by the author), while many more allow their authors to make a version of their work freely available on the internet. Publishers who support OA publishing include, for example, the W. Bertelsmann Verlag (wbv), which publishes e-books and e-papers in adult education, educational and social research, higher education and science, human resources and education training, and vocational education and training within the framework of its programme wbv Open Access; the Hamburg University Press, which offers OA monographs in the humanities and the social sciences; and the Werner-Hülsbusch-Verlag, which publishes OA monographs in the area of technology-supported learning. Nowadays, scholarly works do not necessarily have to be published by a publishing house. Rather, academic editors can organise peer review and publication themselves (for instance with the help of repositories). Examples of works published in this way, the online versions of which are openly accessible, include the festschrift in honour of Peter Baumgartner and Rolf Schulmeister, Hochschuldidaktik im Zeichen von Heterogenität und Vielfalt, and the book series Beiträge zu offenen Bildungsressourcen, which is published on behalf of the editors by the non-profit organisation BIMS e.V..

In addition to peer-reviewed articles in academic journals, the open educational resources (OER) movement (see next section) is currently bringing about change in some subfields of education science, and especially in technology-supported learning. As a result, an increasing number of educational texts by individual authors, and even entire textbooks, dictionaries, and handbooks, are now openly accessible. Examples include:

  • Deutscher Bildungsserver: BildungsWiki, an encyclopaedia of the education system
  • Ebner, Martin & Schön, Sandra (2013, Hrsg). Lehrbuch für Lernen und Lehren mit Technologien. (überarbeitetete und erweiterte Ausgabe) [textbook of technology-supported teaching and learning] (revised and extended edition). Freely accessible at the URL:
  • Rösch, Eike; Demmler, Kathrin; Jäcklein-Kreis, Elisabeth; Albers-Heinemann, Tobias (2012, Hrsg.): Medienpädagogik Praxis Handbuch. Grundlagen, Anregungen und Konzepte für aktive Medienarbeit [A practice-oriented handbook of media education: fundamentals, suggestions, and concepts for active media work], Schriftenreihe Materialien zur Medienpädagogik, Band 10, kopaed: München

Open Science

Open science is also making progress in the field of education science. Particularly worthy of mention is the open educational resources (OER) movement, which is also known as "free educational materials" or "open educational resources".

Here, the key players are not so much the professional associations but rather committed civil society organisations and individual members of higher education institutions. The following offerings provide an introduction to the topic:

Regular German-language news items about OER can be found, for example, on the following website:

A number of journals in the area of technology-supported learning - for example INNOQUAL and the recently established ITEL - and several book projects are currently experimenting with open reviewing by the scientific community.

Content editor of this web page: Dr Sandra Schön