Open Access in 60 seconds

Open Access in Engineering

Open access is not yet as widespread in engineering as it is in other discip­lines (Piwowar et al., 2018). This is due in part to the fact that engineering papers with a strong scientific orientation are usually published in scholarly journals of other disciplines, for example, physics or chemistry. In part, it is also due to the fact that research in the field of engineering is very industry-oriented; in industry, the idea of making findings and knowledge accessible worldwide free of charge is met with great scepticism and misgivings.

For this reason, relatively few engineering papers are published on discipline-specific preprint servers such as engrXiv. Authors do not want to endanger future possibilities of exploiting their findings as well as patents and licences; true to the motto: Patent first, then publish.

Moreover, the majority of engineering articles are more practice- than science-oriented, and are published in trade journals, for example, for the purpose of client acquisition.

In addition, conference papers play a more important role in engineering than do journal articles. In contrast to the journal offerings of other disciplines, the number of conferences that publish their proceedings in open access is compa­ratively small. Smaller conferences in particular are discouraged by the often high book processing charges (BPCs) for conference proceedings or do not publish any collected proceedings at all.

In the field of engineering, increased emphasis is being placed on green open access – that is, the self-archiving of publications in repositories. This circum­stance is facilitated by the fact that many engineering conferences are orga­nised by professional organisations, for example, the IEEE or CIRP, and offer very good self-archiving options in their author agreements. Gold open access usually involves (high) publication costs and is therefore less used, despite the comparatively large funding amounts in the discipline. However, since the introduction of the transformative agreements negotiated by Projekt DEAL, an increasing trend towards gold open access can be observed.

Conference proceedings are often not covered by the DEAL agreements or other international initiatives (e.g., Plan S). Thus, even though the share of open access articles in engineering is likely to increase as a result of these efforts, many conference papers will still not be able to be published in gold open access.

A survey on the publication behaviour of engineers in the German-speaking area was conducted within the framework of the project OpenIng, which was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). It showed that an awareness of open access did exist, but that it was not sufficient to change the publication behaviour of researchers. Reporting the survey findings, Elsner et al. (2019) noted that this was due inter alia to the fact that the organisational and policy framework at universities with regard to when and how research could be published open access was unclear (Elsner et al., 2019).

Open Access Journals

As of December 2021, the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) listed 1,382 entries under the keyword Engineering .

Important open access journals include:

Open access journals devoted specifically to engineering are quite rare. Many engineering articles are published in the journals of other disciplines, for example, in the fields of materials science and physics, or in sub-fields of these disciplines, such as optics. The above selection should thus be regarded merely as a small sample of the journals in which engineering articles are published.

Furthermore, scholarly conference papers or conference proceedings are not listed in the DOAJ, because they are not published as consecutive volumes in journal format. Thus, this DOAJ-based counting method leaves out many pro­ceedings from engineering conferences published, for example, by Procedia CIRP, which play an important role in applied research but receive much less attention in the area of basic research. Although the series titles are often indexed with an ISSN in the literature databases, the contents are usually individual proceedings from a scholarly conference rather than an ongoing series in journal format.

Despite these circumstances, the number of open access journals in the field of engineering is steadily increasing. For example, around 100 journals in the portfolio of the open access publisher MDPI cover this field, as do 30 journals in the portfolio of SpringerOpen.

Predatory publishing is a big problem, especially in engineering (Shen & Björk, 2015), which further increases the scepticism towards open access in the discipline.

Video about the Funding of Open Access Articles

Open Access Books

As of December 2021, the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) listed 4,774 titles under the keyword engineering; the online library and publication plat­form OAPEN listed 6,615 titles under engineering.

The reason why the number of books listed under this keyword in the DOAB and OAPEN is so high is that engineering is not a main category in these databases. Rather, it appears as an accompanying specialist field, for example:

Disciplinary Repositories

The main repositories in engineering include:

  • engrXiv: a preprint server for engineering and related fields; engrXiv is directed by a steering committee of engineers and members of the engineering librarian community.
  • arXiv EESS: the Electrical Engineering and Systems Science archive on the e-print server arXiv.

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

Video about Self-Archiving Rights

Practical Tip

Finding Open Access Literature (in German)

Other Tools and Offerings

Publish-Ing. is an open access platform for the publication of scientific papers in the field of engineering. The idea for Publish-Ing. resulted from the Conference on Production Systems and Logistics (CPSL), which was conducted for the first time in 2020 in collaboration with TIB – Leibniz Information Centre for Science and Technology and University Library, the German Academic Association for Production Technology (WGP), the Institute for Production Systems and Logis­tics (IFA), and Leibniz Universität Hannover (LUH). Publish-Ing. aims to estab­lish a digital platform for researchers on which scientific papers can be pub­lished open access affordably and with minimal effort. All contributions are pub­lished by TIB and deposited in the Leibniz Universität Hannover Repository.

In addition, the project OpenIng, which was funded by the German Federal Mi­nistry of Education and Research (BMBF), developed services for engineers that are still usable after the project’s lifespan. One example is OA-Check, which re­searchers can use to check the open-access compatibility of their publications.


  • Elsner, C., Rosenke, N., Weber, M., Hoppe, C., Drößler, S., & Hermann, S. (2019). Von Bottom up zu Top down. Umfrage: Forschende der Ingenieurwissenschaften erwarten klare Rahmenbedingungen von den Hochschulleitungen bei Open Access und Open Educational Resources. O | Bib. Das offene Bibliotheksjournal, 6(2), 80–91.
  • Piwowar, H., Priem, J., Larivière, V., Alperin, J. P., Matthias, L., Norlander, B., Farley, A., West, J., & Haustein, S. (2018). The state of OA: a large-scale analysis of the prevalence and impact of Open Access articles. PeerJ, 6, e4375.
  • Shen, C., & Björk, B.-C. (2015). ‘Predatory’ open access: a longitudinal study of article volumes and market characteristics. BMC Medicine, 13.

Content editors of this page: Peter Molitor and Eric Retzlaff, Fraunhofer Gesellschaft (Last updated: December 2021)