Open Access in sociology

Neither the German Sociological Association (DGS) nor its US counterpart, the American Sociological Association (ASA), are among the signatories of the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities. However, despite the absence of a commitment to open access (OA) on the part of these professional associations, the prerequisites for OA exist in sociology. 

Open Access journals

Not one of the following core journals are published in OA: American Journal of Sociology (AJS), American Sociological Review (ASR), Annual Review of Sociology, Sociological Methodology, and in the German speaking area, Berliner Journal für Soziologie (BJS), Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie (KzfSS), Leviathan, Soziale Welt, Sozialer Sinn and Zeitschrift für Soziologie (ZfS). However, the ZfS makes its articles openly accessible on its homepage two years after publication, as does Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft (WuG). Other journals adopt a similar approach. For example, two years after publication, Historical Social Research (HSR) automatically makes articles openly accessible in the disciplinary repository Social Science Open Access Repository (SSOAR). Examples of "born-OA journals" areForum Qualitative Sozialforschung (FQS), Survey Research Methods (srm), Sociological Research Online, Comparative Population Studies, the European Integration Online Papers and Demographic Research. Moreover, the ASA has announced that it will launch a new OA journal in 2015, which will cover all subfields of sociology. Other OA journals in sociology can be searched for via the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).

Disciplinary repositories

In particular, the aforementioned repository, SSOAR, may be considered important for sociology. Internationally, the Sciences Research Network (SSRN) is also of importance, although the literature it hosts is not sociological in the narrow sense of the word but rather from fields such as economics, political science, and anthropology.

Literature searches in sociology

There are no specialised points of access for literature searches in sociology. Anyone searching specifically for content from this discipline is obliged to have recourse to general services, such as the Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE), and to filter search results according to disciplinary criteria (in the case of BASE, the Dewey Decimal Classification Code 301.

Open Science

Sociological journals do not, as a rule, use any open science practices such as the open peer review of newly submitted articles, or requirements that authors make publication-related data or software publicly available. Nonetheless, GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences offers extensive opportunities for making data or software publicly available, for example via its data repository service datorium, which also facilitates the assignment of citable Digital Object Identifiers (DOI). Moreover, with da|ra GESIS offers the possibility of registering data for the purpose of DOI assignment - even in cases where the institutions host the data themselves. The open science infrastructure specifically for qualitative data is poorer. Particularly worthy of mention as a service for making research data publicly available is Qualiservice, which emerged from the Archive for Life Course Research (ALLF). First and foremost, Qualiservice is a service facility for the re-use of primary qualitative research data from the social sciences, which are mainly in the form of interview data (as audio material or transcripts). For the sake of completeness, it should be mentioned that the Code of Ethics of the American Sociological Association (ASA, 2008) requires that sociological research data be made available: "Sociologists make their data available after completion of the project or its major publications, except where proprietary agreements with employers, contractors, or clients preclude such accessibility or when it is impossible to share data and protect the confidentiality of the data or the anonymity of research participants." In their submission policies, US closed-access journals, such as the American Sociological Review and Sociological Methodology, refer to this code of ethics and encourage their authors to make research data available. The OA journal Demographic Research also has such requirements. However, they apply not only to data but also to software programme codes.


American Sociological Association (2008). Code of Ethics

Herb, Ulrich (2014). Open Science in Soziologie-Journalen aus deutschsprachigen und nicht-deutschsprachigen Ländern, Daten und Auswertungen einer Journal-Stichprobe. ZENODO. 10.5281/zenodo.10786


Content editor of this web page: Ulrich Herb, SULB Saarbrücken.