Observations from the “Open Access Policies of German Publishers” conference

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Despite the continuing momentum of the open access movement, only a few
German-language publishing houses have so far developed a clear position on
open access. This was apparent at a recent conference
organised by the Universitaetsbibliothek Stuttgart – for a summary of the day,
see Ulrich Herb’s excellent article, (in
German).

Whereas established publishing houses have been slow to adapt to the
changing landscape, University presses (for instance in Goettingen) are undergoing a
revival, offering services such as open access book publications (so far to
theses and textbooks). Free availability of content and commercial sales can go
hand in hand, and especially when combined with print-on-demand services they
provide the basis for innovative publishing businesses. This was demonstrated
by the memorable labelling of the free, online version as a “full-range teaser”
by the founders of Monsenstein und Vannerdat
– a phrase with potential to become part of standard terminology.

There
is also strong and growing support for open access among researchers and research institutes. In BioMed Central
journals alone, nearly 1,800 articles have been published with German researchers
as the submitting author, accounting for nearly 7% of all articles. In addition, 35 German
institutes/organisations
have taken out a BioMed Central membership
including the Max Planck Society. Earlier this year, the Universities
of Bielefeld, Goettingen, Constance and the Free University of Berlin set up
open-access.net, an online
information platform that intends to inform on the growing scientific and
political significance of open access issues
.