Below is a list of questions frequently asked of the oa.helpdesk – and the answers to them.

If you have questions of your own, you can address them directly to the oa.helpdesk or to the open access community in our Forum.

Introduction to Open Access

An overview of various aspects of open access, which includes bibliographical references, can be found on our Information pages. In addition, the following sources provide a good introduction:

Learning materials:

You can find helpful tips on this question in the Finding Content section on our Open Access Journals page.


A persistent identifier (PID) is a long-lasting digital identifier that points directly to a digital object. The assignment of a PID is therefore a meaningful quality criterion for online publications.

In the case of the dual publishing of a book (in open access and in print form), most publishers assign an ISBN for each edition.

In the case of digital publications, DOIs (digital object identifier) are suitable for persistent identification. Frequently, one DOI is assigned per publication. The addi-tional assignment of DOIs for individual chapters, figures, and tables is sometimes considered desirable.

To unambiguously identify researchers, ORCID IDs can be used. ROR IDs can be used to unambiguously identify research organisations.

For more information on this topic, see: Böker, E. & Schneider, G. (2020, September 8). Persistente Identifikatoren - Dauerhaften Zugang sichern. Zenodo.

Funding Possibilities

Many higher education institutions and research organisations promote open access, and enable the financing of publication charges for their researchers’ open access publications through a publication fund. Your institution’s library or open access officer can advise you accordingly. If your planned open access publication stems from a third-party funded research project, you should check whether project funding is available to finance open access publication charges.

Before you formally publish your article in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal, you can publish a preprint version free of charge, thereby initiating an immediate discussion with fellow researchers. And finally, there is the possibility of making your article open access after publication by self-archiving it completely free of charge, for example in a repository operated by your institution. This is known green open access. In this case, too, you can get advice from your library.

Many institutions have a publication fund. You can get in touch with the relevant contact person at your institution to find out which journals your institution has concluded transformative agreements with, and whether your institution can give you financial support. The tool oa.finder is also helpful.

If your article stems from a third-party funded project, it may be possible that the funding organisation will also cover the publication charges for an individual open access article in a hybrid journal. Otherwise, you could consider publishing the article in a purely open access journal. Another possibility would be to publish the article in the desired journal, and then self-archive a version of it in an open access repository after publication. This is known as green open access. In this way, you can make your work available in open access without having to pay publication charges. However, there may be a time delay, as you may have to observe an embargo period. You can find details of journals’ self-archiving policies on the Sherpa Romeo website. In addition, we recommend that you ask your institution’s open access officer about funding options.

Many scientific institutions now make funds available through a monograph fund for the publication of open access books. You can enquire with your institution’s library or open access officer.

You can find some information on further funding possibilities on our Open Access Books page. In addition to project funding, the German Research Foundation (DFG) also offers financial support through its Publication Grants programme. The Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) have established dedicated funding programmes for financing the publication of open access books. Some federal states in Germany, for example Brandenburg, provide financial support for open access book publications through a monograph fund.

Green open access (i.e. self-archiving) can be a low-cost alternative to publishing a book open access. You can try to get the publisher to agree to as short an embargo period as possible, and then self-archive the work in a timely manner in an institutional or disciplinary repository.

You can find some information on funding possibilities on our Open Access Books page. Through its Publication Grants programme, the German Research Foundation (DFG) has offered financial support for the publication of open access books since 2021. Funds for the publication of PhD theses are awarded only in exceptional cases. To be eligible for funding, the thesis must therefore have received the highest marks possible (e.g. summa cum laude) according to the respective doctoral degree regulations. The annual Open Access Monograph Bursary launched by DARIAH-EU in 2021 is addressed specifically to early career researchers in the field of digital humanities. Publication costs of up to 7,000 euros per book are covered.

Funding Guidelines

The European Commission requires beneficiaries of the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon Europe (2021–2027) to provide open access: "The beneficiaries must ensure open access to peer-reviewed scientific publications relating to their results" (Europäische Kommission 2021, Article 17, Annex 5). In addition, the European Commission supports cOAlition S and Plan S. The open access mandate applies also to PhD theses that arise from an EU-funded project and are published through a publisher: "PhD theses and habilitations for professorial degrees are considered peer-reviewed if they are formally published through a publisher" (Europäische Kommission 2021, p. 154).

Funds for open access publications can be applied for in addition to the project funding itself. Further information can be found on our Research Funders and Open Access page.

Open Licences

Creative Commons (CC) licences are standard open licences that can be applied, for example, to scholarly publications, in order to regulate the reusability of the content. Detailed information on CC licences can be found on our Licences page and on the FAQ page of the non-profit organisation Creative Commons.

By using a Creative Commons licence, you can securely regulate the reuse of your open access publication. There are six different types of CC licences. They are modular in structure and differ greatly in terms of their permissiveness and the possibilities for reuse that they grant. For open access text publications, the most permissive licence – CC BY (Attribution) – is recommended because it ensures not only open access to the content but also open reuse. This corresponds most closely to the idea of open access.

The imposition of restrictions by using additional licence elements, such as NC (NonCommercial), may mean that the free reuse of the content will – perhaps unintentionally – be hampered (see Redhead, 2012). If researchers publish their works under a CC BY-NC licence, they may not be able to upload them to commercial platforms, such as ResearchGate, or to use them for spin-offs or self-employment on the side. The use of a CC licence does not affect the right to quote, which remains in force in any case.

You can find detailed information on CC licences on our Licences page and on the FAQ page of the non-profit organisation Creative Commons. Creative Commons provides a Licence Chooser to help licensors choose a CC licence with several licence elements. CC licences can be applied not only to texts but also to other copyrighted materials, such as images, graphics or videos.

It is advisable in this case to include a note in the imprint of the open access publication to the effect that the figures are not covered by the CC licence, and that information on image rights is provided in a note under each figure or in a list of figures. When doing so, you should individually check the respective image rights and, if applicable, the right to quote, just as you would in the case of a closed access publication. The following guides may be helpful in this regard:

The self-archiving of the entire volume is allowed, provided the licence terms BY (Attribution) and NC (NonCommercial) are also complied with. The additional element, ND (NoDerivatives), means that no modified or abbreviated versions or individual parts of the book may be self-archived. This also includes translations.

Open Access Journals

There are various ways of publishing an open access journal: it can be operated independently, published through a scientific institution or with the help of a publisher. When founding an open access journal, it is important to give thought to matters such as concept, editorial planning, affiliation, and covering costs. Information about all these aspects can be found on our web pages Publishing Open Access Journals und Business Models for Journals.

When converting a journal to open access, various parameters such as concept, policy, licences, editorial procedures and technical implementation must be rethought. There are two ways of realising this:

  • through “journal flipping”, where an existing journal is converted to an open access model and the journal name and all its metrics are retained;
  • by founding a new journal, whereby the persons involved migrate from an existing subscription-based journal to an open access journal.

For information on open access journals, see in particular the following web pages:

A hybrid journal is a subscription journal that offers authors the option of publishing individual articles open access for a fee. Thus, hybrid journals that are not actively committed to transitioning to a full open access model do not meet the cOAlition S criteria for transformative journals. Publications in such hybrid journals are therefore not compliant with the open access guidelines of research funders.

As defined by cOAlition S, a transformative journal is a “hybrid/subscription journal that is actively committed to transitioning to a full open access model” (cOAlition S, 2020). In other words, after transformation, these journals can be accessed and reused free of charge by everyone.

Unfortunately, there are journals and publishers that take advantage of the levying of publication charges (also known as article processing charges, APCs). These predatory journals/publishers try – sometimes massively – to attract researchers to publish in their journals. However, they do not observe the usual standards of good scientific practice. It is often difficult to recognise predatory journals/publishers, because the providers go to a lot of trouble to make their offerings appear reputable. The following approach is recommended:

  • It is advisable to take a look at the publisher’s website in order to check whether important information is provided, for example about the team and the editorial bodies, the authors, the cost structure, the licences, and the peer-review process.
  • If a publisher is a member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) and the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), and if its publications are indexed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) or the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB), this is a sign of a reputable offering.
  • It can also be helpful to ask colleagues whether they have ever heard of the journal/publisher. In any event, in case of suspicion, you should inform others.

For further information, see our Open Access Publishing page.

If all articles are published “online first” under a Creative Commons licence, there is no reason why they should not be classified as gold open access. The fact that a fee-based print edition is published in addition to the open access version is not a contradiction in terms. This dual-publishing model is common and legitimate practice, especially in the case of open access books.


Important elements that should be included in open access policies and guidelines can be found on our Open Access Policies page.

An overarching open science policy should in any case also include rules or recommendations for open access to scientific publications (in addition to research data etc.). One example from Germany is the open science policy of the University of Konstanz.

The OpenAIRE Toolkit, for example, which includes checklists and model policies, is a useful resource for developing one’s own open science policy.

Finding a Publication Venue

There are several approaches and tools for searching for suitable open access journals/publishers.

  • First, you can check the offerings that are listed on our discipline-specific pages by experts from the respective fields.
  • To orient yourself towards thematically similar publications, it is also a good idea to search in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) or in the Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE).
  • Enquire with your institution’s library as to whether it offers publication possibilities.
  • B!SON is a tool that helps users to find a suitable open access journal for manuscripts that have already been prepared. Based on the title, abstract and references, the tool lists suitable open access journals to which it assigns a score indicating the respective goodness of fit.
  • Using the search tool oa.finder, authors can find suitable publication venues by selecting the publication type and their role in the submission process (e.g. corresponding author), and by entering the name of the scientific institution at which they are employed.
  • It can also be helpful to ask colleagues for advice.

For further information, see in particular the following pages:

Two types of repositories are distinguished: institutional repositories (operated by an institution) and disciplinary (i.e. discipline-specific) repositories. To find a suitable repository, you can proceed as follows:

  • Contact your institution’s library to find out whether an institutional repository would be an option. If you are looking for a disciplinary repository, check the website of your specialised information service (FID). It may provide such a repository itself or can advise you where to find one.
  • In addition, you can search for a suitable repository in the Open Directory of Open Access Repositories (OpenDOAR) or in the Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR). A worldwide overview of research data repositories is provided, for example, by the registry of research data repositories re3data.
  • Furthermore, there are generic repositories, for example Zenodo, which are online collections of documents of diverse disciplines.
  • In addition, you can check the offerings that are listed on our discipline-specific pages by experts from the respective disciplines.

An easy way of publishing materials that you have created yourself is to use generic repositories and publication platforms, such as Zenodo, that offer the possibility of publishing documents under an open licence and with DOIs. Note, however, that documents published via such repositories do not undergo peer review.

Special open educational resources (OER) repositories, such as Twillo, or ZOERR, are possible publication venues for your own OER.

Legal Issues

In Germany, the use of quotations is regulated in Section 51 of the Act on Copyright and Related Rights (UrhG). The right to quote is not affected by open access.

Photos and film stills, for example, may also be covered by the right to quote if they are correctly quoted and an intellectual discussion of their content takes place. However, an illustrative use is not covered by the right to quote.

Diligence and caution are also called for when regulating reuse. If a Creative Commons licence is to be applied to a publication, this is also possible when using (image) quotations. However, you must make it clear that the CC licence applies only to your own text, figures, etc., not to figures from third parties used in the publication. You can achieve this by including a corresponding note under the figures and/or in a list of figures. Furthermore, a corresponding note in the imprint is recommended.

The following guides may be helpful in this regard:

The wording in the publishing agreement is decisive – and here the principle of freedom of contract applies. Under German copyright law, the various rights of use can be granted individually. Making a work available to the public in a repository pursuant to Section 38 of the Act on Copyright and Related Rights (UrhG) – which is also known as the right of self-archiving – is possible even if the publisher has been granted exclusive rights of use. For wording suggestions and other information, see our Publishing Agreements page.

Academic social networks, such as ResearchGate and, are not repositories but rather commercial networks. Making publications available to the public in such networks is not covered by the definition of open access. As a rule, most publishers do not allow published articles to be uploaded to such platforms (see Voigt, 2016).

Conversely, whether a manuscript that was published initially in an academic social network may be published with a journal depends on whether the journal (1) allows the publication of preprints, and (2) classifies the published manuscript as a preprint (see Rule 8 in Bourne et al., 2017).

Whether a (preprint) manuscript that has already been published in an academic social network may, in addition, be deposited in a repository depends on whether an open licence was applied to it, or – if that is not the case – whether exclusive rights of use were granted to the network.

Further information can be found on our Preprints page.



In Germany, the inalienable secondary publication right is regulated in Sesction 38 (4) of the Act on Copyright and Related Rights (UrhG).

A number of conditions for the application of this limitation of copyright are specified in the text of Section 38(4). If all these conditions are met, the accepted manuscript version of the scientific contribution to a journal may be self-archived upon expiry of 12 months after first publication, even if the author has granted the publisher an exclusive right of use. Further information and a German-language video about the right of self-archiving (Zweitveröffentlichungsrecht) can be found in the Rights section on our Repositories page.

If the secondary publication right under German law cannot be applied, it may still be possible to self-archive a publication, for example if the publisher on its own initiative permits self-archiving upon expiry of an embargo period.

In German law, this case is regulated in Section 38 (2) of the in Act on Copyright and Related Rights (UrhG).

As the author of “a contribution to a collection that is not published periodically”, you can self-archive the contribution upon expiry of one year after publication, unless otherwise agreed in the publishing agreement, and provided you did not receive remuneration for the publication.

Detailed information on the legal provisions governing the deposit of documents in a repository, and an example of a licence agreement with authors (deposit licence) can be found on our web page Operating a Repository.

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