Educational Sciences

Open Access in 60 Seconds

Video about Open Access. (CC BY 3.0 DE)
Source: Brinken, H., Hauss, J. &  Rücknagel, J. (2021). Open Access in 60 seconds,

Open Access in the Educational Sciences

Although open access is established in the educational sciences, it plays a secondary role compared with proprietary publications. For example, according to the Open Science Monitor, just under a quarter of the publications in the educational sciences in the EU are published open access (green, gold, bronze, etc.; European Commission, n.d.). Journal articles are the preferred form of publication in the educational sciences (Schmidt-Hertha & Müller, 2020, p. 160), followed by monographs, edited collections, and book chapters, which together account for around one third of the publication output in this field (Abs et al., 2020). According to the labelling in the German Education Index, almost 9% of the German-language journal articles, around 9% of the German-language mo­nographs and edited collections, and around 11% of the chapters in German-language edited collections listed in the database as of July 2021 were open access. The German Educational Research Association (GERA/DGfE), one of the key institutions in the educational sciences in the German-speaking area, has not yet adopted a clear position on open access.

A further overview of open access developments in the German-language educational sciences is provided in a dissertation by Bambey (2016) and journal articles by Rummler (2021) and Schindler and Rummler (2018).

Open Access Journals

As of July 2021, the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) listed around 1,631 journals under the subject Education.

Important German-language open access journals that are listed in the DOAJ include:

Important open access journals that are not listed in the DOAJ include:

Journals in the educational sciences are often published open access by committed individuals with the help of their institutions and through voluntary effort. For example, the German Youth Institute publishes the magazine IMPULSE. Although, as mentioned earlier, the German Educational Research Association (GERA/DGfE) has not yet adopted a clear position on open access, its journal, Erziehungswissenschaft, is published open access. The Media Education Division of the DGfE publishes the above-mentioned open access journal Zeitschrift MedienPädagogik. In Austria, the Forum Neue Medien in der Lehre Austria publishes the Zeitschrift für Hochschulentwicklung open access, while the Swiss Society for Research in Education (SSRE) publishes the quadrilingual open access journal Swiss Journal of Educational Research.

In some cases, funding or sponsorship is acquired. For example, the Magazin is funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF), while the online journal bwp@ is operated inter alia via a cooperation with wbv Media and with the support of sponsors.

Financing of Open Access Articles. [german] (CC BY 3.0 DE)
Source: Brinken, H. (2020). Finanzierung von Open-Access-Artikeln,

Open Access Books

As of November 2021, the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) and OAPEN Library each listed over 500 titles under the subject Education. Moreover, peDOCS provides a good overview of series in the educational sciences. The German Education Index indexes open access books and contributions to edited collections.

A large share of the open access books in the educational sciences is now published by university presses or made available to the public by institutional repositories (see Schindler & Rummler, 2018). Besides research reports and edited collections, these publications include in particular monographic disser­tations and habilitation theses. Although the German Educational Research Association (GERA/DGfE) has not yet adopted a clear position on open access, its divisions and committees publish a wide range of open access books and book series as society publishers:

The Gesellschaft für Medien in der Wissenschaft (GMW) publishes the confe­rence proceedings series Medien in der Wissenschaft with Waxmann Verlag. Moreover, various publishers offer authors the option of publishing educational science e-books open access. These publishers include Verlag Julius Klinkhardt, Barbara Budrich, Nomos, Beltz Juventa, wbv Media, transcript, Waxmann and Werner-Hülsbusch-Verlag.

Disciplinary Repositories

The most important repositories in the educational sciences include:

An overview of relevant repositories is also provided by the Open Directory of Open Access Repositories (OpenDOAR).

Source: Brehm, E. (2021). Zweitveröffentlichungsrecht für Wissenschaftler*innen [german], Brinken, Helene. (CC BY 3.0 DE)

Other Offerings

As a virtual specialised education library, the Education Research Portal is the central point of access to (German-language) educational sciences. It is opera­ted by the Information Center for Education (IZB) at DIPF – Leibniz Institute for Research and Information in Education in Frankfurt am Main. The estab­lishment and development of the portal was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). The offering, which can be used free of charge, is divided into three sections: Literature & References, Research Data, and Research Information:

  • In the Literature & References section, users can conduct searches, report publications that are not yet indexed in the database, publish documents via peDOCS, or avail of the services of the Specialised Information Service Education (FID Erziehungswissenschaft und Bildungsforschung). Comprehensive databases are available for literature searches:
  • The Research Data section contains comprehensive studies in empirical education research, which have been documented for the long term. Moreover, there is a central access point to descriptive information about the studies (e.g. survey instruments used, research data collected, information material on research data management).
  • The Research Information section provides a thematic compilation of relevant Internet sources for and about science and research in the area of education.

The Education Research Portal has been online since August 2005. Following complete revision, it was relaunched in September 2017.

Open Science in the Educational Sciences

In the educational sciences, there are also other movements besides open access in the area of open science. For example, a special issue – Issue 61( 2), 2020 – of the journal Erziehungswissenschaft entitled Neue Formen der Archi­vierung, Bereitstellung und Nachnutzung von Forschungsdaten [New Forms of Archiving, Providing and Reusing Research Data], which brought together arguments on the subject of open science and open data, sparked a debate within the educational sciences on new forms of research and data collection and the requirements that these models involve. Moreover, the special issue also addressed the limitations and reservations that are discernible, especially with regard to data protection and the use of open research data and processes. Nonetheless, with open science practices and forms of publication, things will change in the educational sciences, too, because the open handling of research data is supported in principle. For example, the German Educational Research Association (GERA/DGfE), the Society for Empirical Educational Re­search (Gesellschaft für Empirische Bildungsforschung, GEBF), and the Gesell­schaft für Fachdidaktik (GFD) have published a joint statement with recommen­dations on the archiving, provision, and reuse of research data in the context of education and subject didactics research.

At the international level, as of November 2021, the registry of research data re­positories re3data listed over 60 data portals and repositories of open research data in the area of educational sciences. In the German-speaking area, Forschungsdaten Bildung indexes research data via the German Network of Educational Research, and provides information on sharing and managing research data in education research. Engagement with open science and its adaptation to the disciplinary framework conditions and possibilities can increasingly be observed in the educational sciences (van Dijk et al., 2021; Krammer & Svecnik, 2020; van der Zee & Reich, 2018).

Moreover, the educational sciences are also influenced by the open educational resources (OER) movement. By explicitly calling for open access to education, educational opportunities, and educational materials, this thematic field follows the lead of historical pedagogical precursors (Deimann, 2020; Hug, 2014). In the German-speaking area, OER became the focus of public attention in 2015 because of the planned deployment of so-called School Trojans, and the related debate on the legally secure handling of digital educational materials, which led to a number of studies and position papers (Blees et al., 2016; Blees et al., 2015; Deimann et al., 2015; Ebner et al., 2016; Muuß-Merholz et al., 2014). Furthermore, in recent years, an increasing number of studies have investigated the innovations in the area of educational and informational practice. These studies emphasise, examine, and critically discuss the new ways of handling materials and infrastructures (Schön & Ebner, 2021; Heck et al., 2020; Deimann, 2020; Heinen et al., 2015).

Regular German-language news and information on OER and a compilation of German-language OER directories and platforms (e.g. the OER-Repositorium Baden-Württemberg) are available, for example, on the portal OERinfo. These directories and platforms also cover the area of higher education. In Austria, work has begun on the implementation of an OER certificate for teachers at higher education institutions and for higher education institutions (; Schön et al., 2021).


Further Reading

Content editors of this page: Dr Klaus Rummler (Zurich University of Teacher Education), Dr Christoph Schindler (Leibniz Institute for Research and Information in Education), and Dr Sandra Schön (Graz University of Technology) (Last updated: November 2021)