Open Access in engineering

Engineering occupies a special position vis-à-vis many other sciences because research in this field is mostly industry oriented, which gives rise to a different publishing behaviour. Engineering papers with a strong scientific orientation are usually published in the scholarly journals of other disciplines, such as physics or chemistry. However, the majority of engineering publications are more practice- than science oriented and are published in advertising-financed journals. In engineering, therefore, it would seem to be particularly appropriate to promote the green road to open access (OA) - that is, the self-archiving of publications in digital repositories.

Another characteristic feature of engineering is that its focus is more national than international as products developed by engineers are, for the most part, produced only for the domestic market, for example because of standardization in the tool sector. This explains why OA journals are still relatively rare in this discipline. The argument that the science sector is becoming more internationalised does not hold water here because an international readership takes little interest in research and development in these specialised areas. This also becomes clear when one takes a look at the engineering journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). Many of these journals are published in the national language of the country in question; only in a few engineering sub-fields are they published in English.

Open Access journals

In recent years, OA as publishing form has spread throughout almost all scientific and scholarly disciplines. Even in the very heterogeneous field of engineering it is becoming increasingly popular, despite the above-mentioned framework conditions. This is due not least to the fact that the number of OA journals in engineering has grown rapidly in recent years; they now cover a variety of specific subject areas. However, there is still a need to catch up as far as OA is concerned. To provide a rough guide, we have compiled the following exemplary list of OA journals. These journals are OA (DOAJ), peer-reviewed (Ulrichsweb), most of them have an impact factor (ISI Web of Knowledge), and, for the most part, they are published in English.

  • Procedia CIRP,  2212-8271 (no impact factor yet because it is new)

Disciplinary repositories

Compared to other scientific disciplines, disciplinary repositories do not play a major role in engineering. Exceptions are engrxiv, for preprints in engineering, and AgriXiv, for preprints in the agricultural sciences. Furthermore, there are institutional repositories such as:

  • Fraunhofer-ePrints: The repository Fraunhofer-ePrints provides access to the full texts of electronically available scholarly publications of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, which is active primarily in the field of applied research, and therefore mainly in engineering. The publication database Fraunhofer-Publica documents publications of all kinds that result from the research activities of the Fraunhofer institutes.
  • LeibnizOpen, the central OA portal of the Leibniz Association, allows a disciplinary view of the publications via the browsing option Engineering sciences on LeibnizOpen.
  • The Hydraulic Engineering Repository HENRY is the specialist repository for academic publications from the field of hydraulic engineering. It is a free service maintained and continuously developed by the German Federal Waterways Engineering and Research Institute (BAW). All publications by the BAW, the Waterways and Shipping Administration of the German Federal Government (WSV), and by scientific partner organisations are archived in HENRY and made available permanently and for free based on the open access principle.

Free access to the full texts of patent specifications is of particular importance in engineering:

  • The DEPATISnet database of the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA)

Literature searches in engineering

Freely accessible articles in engineering can be searched for via the following service offerings:

  • The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) can be used to search for OA journals and articles. (Procedure: Advanced Search, Search in the subject field "technology" and/or "technology and engineering")
  • BASE (Bielefeld Academic Search Engine) is one of the largest search engines in the world for openly accessible scholarly documents on the internet. Searches are conducted via the metadata of the indexed documents. Some 75 % of the documents are OA. (Procedure: Advanced search, Enter search term, e.g. "engineering". Alternatively: search for "engineering" using the Dewey Decimal Classification)
  • According to Sciencegate, it searches over 3,000 repositories and OA journals. However, not all articles are really freely accessible.
  • Freely accessible online databases and data sources can also be found in the Datenbank-Infosystem (DBIS). (Procedure: Select the required discipline, e.g. electrical engineering or mechanical engineering, from the overview of subjects. You will then receive a list of databases in this discipline and information as to whether they are freely accessible online.)

Key players

A key role in promoting OA in engineering is played by the major German science organisations such as the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the Helmholtz Association oder die Leibniz Association, who are exclusively or partly active in this scientific field. They promote OA in a variety of ways, for example by adopting OA policies, creating suitable infrastructure (repositories), providing advice on OA to their staff, and collaborating closely with each other.

Key players among the professional societies, professional associations, and publishers in the field of engineering include the Association of German Engineers (VDI) and the Association for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies (VDE) in Germany, and on the international front, the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE), the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), the Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE), the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), and above all the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The first activities and offerings in the area of OA can be observed in the publishing media for which these organisations are responsible. In other words, the discipline cannot escape the general trend towards OA.



Content editor of this web page: Kristen Endres and Claus Spiecker, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.