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Open Access

On this page we have put together information on the publication in Open Access.

In the following section, you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions. If further information is required, feel free to contact our team directly for individual support. Write an email to the address: [Email protection active, please enable JavaScript.]

What is Open Access?

Open Access is understood as the freely available access to scientific and scholarly information over the internet for anyone, free of charge.
Academics succeeded in establishing Open Access on their own initiative with the ultimate aim to improve scientific and scholarly communication.

Open Access offers

  • An alternative to traditional publication models
  • An additional and further possibility to publish works on the internet that where published elsewhere.

The purpose of Open Access, after all, is to
provide a guaranteed access to global information for anyone at all times from any place for the purposes of education, science and research purposes  (Göttingen Declaration on Copyright for Education and Research).
Please also read:

Why Open Access?

Open Access offers a number of advantages compared to conventional publication.
The advantages of Open Access for authors are:

  • Optimal accessibility of the publication
  • Increased reception of the publication 
  • Good findability of the publication via search engines and reference services in general

The advantages for research and teaching are:

  • Unhindered access to current research results, free of charge
  • Enhance the research efficiency through open discussion of research results
  • Improved information supply
  • Promotion of international and interdisciplinary cooperation

The advantages for society are:

  • No double funding of science
    (provision of financial resources for scientific activities first, then for the purchase of publications by libraries and research institutions)
  • Equal participation of all people in scientific progress

Please also read: and reservations

How does Open Access work?

Golden Road

The Golden Road refers to the primary publication of scientific contributions in an electronic publication medium (e.g. a journal). No subscription fees are incurred for the usage. The golden road postpones the funding to the date of publication. Often publication fees accrue for authors (Author – Pays – model).
A compilation of almost 7000 Open Access journals, sorted by subject, can be found in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).

Many scientific publishers (e.g. Wiley’s Online Open, Springer’s Open Choice) run so-called hybrid Open Access models.
When publishing in a subscription-based journal, an individual article can be made readily available in Open Access by paying an additional publication fee.
The hybrid model is problematic (double- dipping publishing houses, universities pay twice, in practice, it is often not possible to directly access from search portals).

Green Road

The Green Road focuses on the secondary publication of commercial publications in repositories. A distinction is made between institutional and disciplinary repositories. While institutional repositories depict the scientific activities of an institution, disciplinary repositories are mainly geared towards the storage of the publications of an entire discipline.
The vast majority of scientific publishers and under certain conditions the Copyright Law allow a time delayed publication in repositories. The SHERPA/RoMEO list offers information, in no way legally binding, on the contractual conditions.

You can find an overview list of repositories in the Directory of Open Access Repositories (OpenDOAR).

Please note: The legal requirements also apply to publications on your own website or the website of an institution.

Open Access strategy

For many years, Open Access has been, and still is, a generally accepted and a widely disseminated publication strategy, not only for journal articles, but also increasingly for monographs and research data.
Universities, an increasing number of publishers and especially many scientific authors are in line with the Open Access concept.

The German Rectors’ Conference (HRK), the German Council of Science and Humanities, the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs, the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the European Commission wholeheartedly support this form of publication.

An overview of Open Access policies of all research funding organisations  is provided by the database SHERPA/JULIET.

Key documents regarding the Open Access strategy

Further frequently asked questions

Does Open Access simplify plagiarism?

On the contrary. The open online accessibility results in more easily detectable plagiarisms. The plagiarism software’s mode of operation is based on this. Open Access is therefore, by far, the most effective strategy against plagiarism.

Are Open Access publishers only niche publishing companies that publish little?

This is no longer true. Public Library of Science published more than 100.000 articles as of the beginning of 2014. BioMed Central publish more than 260 leading and prestigious Open Access journals.
Apart from the well-known Open Access publishers, international major publishing houses and scholarly societies started founding their own Open Access journals. These include the publishers
Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Sage, Springer, Royal Society Publishing, Taylor & Taylor, Nature Publishing Group or American Physical Society

Do the cheap Open Access journals ruin the traditional, high-quality journals?

On the contrary – traditional publishers are increasingly entering the Open Access business.
Apart from the well-known Open Access publishers, international major publishing houses and scholarly societies started founding their own Open Access journals.
Among these are the publishers
Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Sage, Springer, Royal Society Publishing, Taylor & Taylor, Nature Publishing Group or American Physical Society

Are there any at all suitable Open Access journals regarding my specific field?

Open Access journals cover a very broad spectrum of specialist fields by now. The disciplinary cultures vary considerably. Nearly 7000 journals are listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals. The focus continues to be on the subject areas of medicine/biological sciences.

Do Open Access journals have lesser impact factors?

This is not correct anymore as demonstrated by the database Thomson Reuters’ Journal Citation Reports. Meanwhile, most of the established Open Access Journals are evaluated by Thomas Reuters. Numerous Open Access Journals have achieved high impact factors within a very short period of time, e.g.  PLoS Biology.
When Open Access journals cannot show impact factors, it is due to the fact that many new journals have been launched in this field. Impact factors are issued in the third year of publication at the earliest.
Open Access Journals or publishers often promote on their websites with the current impact factor

Do Open Access journals have a quality assurance?

The reputation of a journal is not a question of the business model it uses. High and low-quality output can be found in both commercial as well as non-commercial publishers and journals and fee-based as well as free of charge publications. High-quality Open Access journals are principally peer-reviewed. Without a functioning quality assurance, high impact factors would be unthinkable.
Information regarding the selection of reviewers can be found on the providers’ websites, e.g.: or 

Is the author pays model fundable?

The scale of publication fees is large. 6400 of the DOAJ covered journals do not charge publication fees, including, e.g., titles that are published by universities or publicly funded institutions.
A study carried out for the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC)   in 2009 comes to the conclusion, after having taken all economic factors into consideration, that publishing in Open Access is overall most cost-effective. 

Legal guide Open Access

Open Access publishing raises numerous legal questions that cannot be answered without looking into Copyright Law and the contract with a publishing house. A legal guide provides orientation. Firstly, it covers the subject of rights related to the publication and then deals with the issue of the transfer of rights concerning the Golden and Green Road. The knowledge of the Open Access’ legal framework enables you to make full use of your rights and to avoid legal violations.

» Read the complete Open Access legal guide (in German)

Open Access at the University of Bonn

The concept of Open Access is also increasingly gaining ground at the University of Bonn. According to the Web of Science, 30% of publications with a corresponding author from the university (including the faculty of medicine) were published in Open Access in 2018. Two thirds of those appeared in journals listed in the Directory of Open Access. This portion increased from 4% to 20% from 2009 to 2018 (Date of data retrieval: 08 February 2019). 

A central financial funding of Open Access publishing in the Golden Road does not exist at the University of Bonn. In individual cases it may be useful to sign up for membership (e.g. BioMed Central or Springer Open) in order to reduce the publication fees. We will gladly check this option for you.

ULB Bonn offers you the opportunity to publish theses or other scientific qualification works in Open Access via university publication server.
All information on this topic can be found on our websites Publishing doctoral theses.

bonndoc is the institutional repository at the University and State Library (USL) in Bonn. It offers scientists of the university the technical infrastructure for secondary publications in Open Access (Green Route). bonndoc enables and allows the university’s scientists to exercise their rights fully in accordance with copyright laws, their individual publishing contracts and further agreements (e.g. within the context of DFG-funded Alliance Licences).
Bonn University Press publications can be published 2 years after publication with the consent of the copyright owner. More information about bonndoc are mentioned on our german website.

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