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,

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

Open Access in the Geosciences

The geosciences study the scientific aspects of the Earth system in an interdisciplinary way. The major geoscience disciplines – geology, palaeontology, geodesy, mineralogy, petrology, and geochemistry – have close links, for example, to soil science and atmospheric, marine, and climate research. The interdisciplinary spectrum of the geosciences is supplemented by other research fields, such as geomicrobiology and geoinformatics.

The geosciences are among the disciplines in which open access is comparatively widespread (Severin et al., 2020). In the geosciences, the typical publication cultures of the natural sciences predominate. As a rule, articles are published in international peer-reviewed journals. At present, reputational ascriptions are still guided mainly by the journal impact factor

On the whole, books play a minor role in the geosciences and are used mainly as digests and collections of essays. There are however exceptions in some subdisciplines – for example, in palaeontology, where books certainly play a greater role.

Although regional non-English-language publication venues, which were very common in the past, are decreasing in number, they are still of importance for regional topics (Bertelmann, 2017). More detailed studies on the open access publishing behaviour in sub-disciplines are available for geochemistry (Pourret et al., 2020a; Pourret et al., 2020b). 

Many professional geoscience societies in Germany publish or co-publish journals. Most of these journals are published in cooperation with a publisher and are financed via the subscription model. The leading international professional societies with the largest membership are the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and the European Geosciences Union (EGU). Besides subscription-based journals, the AGU also publishes a number of open access journals. By contrast, all of the EGU’s journals are open access. The Specialised Information Service for Geosciences (FID GEO) supports the German geoscience societies in implementing open access.

Open Access Journals

As of January 2021, the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) listed 168 entries under the subjects “Geology", "Geodesy", "Geophysics. Cosmic physics", and "Geomagnetism", of which 37 had the DOAJ Seal. 

Important Open Access Journals are:

Open Access Books

As of January 2021, the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) listed 1,335 titles under the subject “Earth and Environmental Sciences”. The OAPEN Library can be browsed by subject. Suitable search terms for geoscience titles are “geo” or “earth”.

Disciplinary Repositories

The most important repositories in the geosciences include:

  • Agris: an offering of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), mainly for agricultural sciences
  • Aquatic Commons: an offering of the International Association of Aquatic and Marine Science Libraries and Information Centers that covers the area of marine research (merging with OceanDocs in 2021 to create a new repository, AquaDocs)
  • GEO-LEOe-docs: the disciplinary repository of the Specialised Information Service for Geosciences (FID GEO)
  • NASA STI Repository: contains a collection of NASA’s aerospace-related research results
  • OceanDocs: Repository of Ocean Publications of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) (merging with Aquatic Commons in 2021 to create a new repository, AquaDocs)

The following repositories of relevant research institutions are particularly suitable for direct searches:

  • Earth-prints, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia
  • EPIC, Alfred Wegener Institute – Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research
  • GFZpublic, Helmholtz Centre Potsdam – German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ)
  • Oceanrep, GEOMAR – Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel

Preprint servers:

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

Using BASE, the Bielefeld Academic Search Engine, around 350,000 titles can currently be found, for example, via the menu item “Browsing”, the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) main class “Science”, and the DDC division “Earth sciences and geology”.

For article-level searches, the library search engine ALBERT also accesses the relevant open access journals and a number of relevant repositories. This also includes published research data.

GEO-LEO is a metasearch engine for searching for sources of information on the Earth system and space.

FID GEO offers to digitise geoscience works free of charge. All works digitised by FID GEO are made freely available in GEO-LEOe-docs, the disciplinary repository of FID GEO. 

FID GEO documents map sheets of the geological map 1:25,000 (GK25) of Germany and adjacent territories that are already freely available online. Moreover, researchers can suggest map sheets of the GK25 in the public domain for digitisation by FID GEO. The service is free of charge 

The articles published in open access journals can also be searched via the popular discipline-specific databases and in transdisciplinary offerings (e.g., GeoRef, Science Citation Index, Scopus).

Open Science in the Geosciences

The handling of research data has been a key issue in the geosciences ever since the International Geophysical Year (1957/58). It is no coincidence that the first journals devoted exclusively to articles on research data (Earth System Science Data (ESSD) and Geoscience Data Journal) were published in the field of geosciences.

In relation to research data, the German geoscience community is organised in the consortium NFDI4Earth in order to establish a set of common and internationally compatible principles, rules, and standards for research data management in Earth system science (ESS); to create experimental prototype platforms; and to provide tools and mechanisms for data integration and analysis. In this pursuit, NFDI4Earth follows the principles of FAIR and open data.

Information on the topic of research data in the geosciences (e.g., on repositories, initiatives, and literature) is compiled in the German-language information portal

At international level, the Coalition for Publishing Data in the Earth and Space Sciences (COPDESS) connects Earth and space science publishers, data centres, and other actors in order to translate the aspirations of open, available, and useful data into practice.

Other contributions to open science are the International Geo Sample Number (IGSN) for referenceable samples (e.g., rock samples), and the open peer review processes conducted, for example, for over 10 years now at the journals of the publisher Copernicus Publications. Because the geosciences are software-intensive sciences, attention is being increasingly focused on the handling of software – that is, its publication and referenceability (see, e.g., Stall et al., 2020).


  • Bertelmann, R. (2017). 5c. Geowissenschaften. In K. Söllner & B. Mittermaier (Eds.), Praxishandbuch Open Access (pp. 261–266). De Gruyter Saur.
  • Pourret, O., Hursthouse, A., Irawan, D. E., Johannesson, K., Liu, H., Poujol, M., Tartèse, R., Hullebusch, E. D. van, & Wiche, O. (2020). Open Access publishing practice in geochemistry: Overview of current state and look to the future. Heliyon, 6(3), e03551.
  • Pourret, O., Irawan, D. E., Tennant, J. P., Hursthouse, A., & Hullebusch, E. D. van (2020). The growth of open access publishing in geochemistry. Results in Geochemistry, 1, 100001.
  • Severin, A., Egger, M., Eve, M. P., & Hürlimann, D. (2020). Discipline-specific open access publishing practices and barriers to change: An evidence-based review. F1000Research, 7, 1925.
  • Stall, S., Townsend, R., & Robinson, E. (2020, April). The paper and the data: Authors, reviewers, and editors webinar on updated journal practices for data (and software). Zenodo. 

Content editor of this page: Specialised Information Service for Geosciences, FID GEO (Last updated: January 2021)