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Open Access

Open Access (OA) refers to free and unrestricted access to academic information on the internet. Documents published in OA can be accessed, downloaded and used free of charge by all interested parties.

One of the aims of open access is to make research results available quickly, continuously and in an accessible form. Potential advantages for authors are:

  • improved findability of the publication by search engines and reference services
  • higher visibility of the content through free accessibility on the internet
  • potentially larger readership, combined with potentially higher reception and more frequent citation (impact factor)
  • ideally: self-determined definition and control of exploitation rights
  • for digital-only documents: faster publication compared to print publications
  • mutual benefit: free access to publications by other researchers

The publication fund

Everything about access to the fund

Gutenberg Open Science

Everything you need to know about the Open Access Publication Server of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz


Why ORCID-ID and how to create a profile

General information

Depending on the author's wishes, expectations, and document type, there are various ways to publish a document in open access:

  • Gold:
    The document is published by a publishing house as an original publication in an open access medium with an open access license, for example in a journal. Funding is provided, for example, through fees paid by the authors or their institution.
  • Green:
    The document is published by a publishing house classically in closed access. In addition, however, it is made available on a document server as a pre- or postprint in open access (with an open access license).
  • Bronze:
    The document is published as freely available by a publishing house as an original publication, but without an open access license. Reading is possible free of charge, but other uses such as distribution, editing, etc. are not permitted.
  • Hybrid:
    The document is published by a publishing house as an original open access publication, but in a journal that is funded using the closed access model. Authors typically have to pay fees to release their document in open access.
  • Gray:
    The document is not published through a publishing house, instead it is made freely available as gray literature on a document server or website (with an open access license).


Open access stands in contrast to the classic closed access model, where publication costs are financed through user fees, which are usually paid by libraries or readers (for example, through the purchase of literature or journal subscriptions).

Various business models have been developed to finance the open access publishing process and the necessary infrastructure. Examples include:

  • Author-based models:
    Publication costs are paid by the authors typically after the document has been accepted by the publishing house and before publication.
  • Institution-based models:
    The authors’ institution funds its own open access medium – such as a university publication server – and covers the publication and infrastructure costs.
  • Community fees models:
    Professional associations finance the publication costs of their members through their membership fees or provide their own open access media for them.

For more information on open access business models:


In the author-based funding models used for gold or hybrid publications, the publication costs, also known as article processing charges (APCs), are borne by the authors. 

To reduce the financial burden on them, funding and support programs have been established. For researchers at a university, for example, there are:

  • External offers from institutions such as the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the German Research Foundation (DFG)
  • Offers within the university such as the publication funds, from which the APCs for open access publications can be paid in part or in full

Funding for a publication is usually subject to certain conditions, such as the selection of a quality-assured open access journal for the publication.

Please note: Mainz University of Applied Sciences established an open access publication fund for its members who wish to publish, out of which APCs can be partially reimbursed. 


When a document is published in open access, various licenses can be used to specify the conditions and restrictions on the continued use of the publication.

Well-known models are:

  • Creative Commons licenses (info)
  • Digital Peer Publishing licenses (info) (only available in German)
  • Free documentation licenses (info)

Example: Creative Commons licenses

Creative Commons licensing agreements are especially widely used. They were developed by the non-profit organization Creative Commons and can be applied to all works covered by copyright.

The structure of CC licensing agreements is based on the following core elements:

  • BY (attribution): The name of the author must be mentioned when the work is reused.
  • NC (non-commercial): Work may only be used for non-commercial purposes.
  • ND (no derivatives): Work may not be modified (for example, no translation is allowed).
  • SA (share alike): Work may be redistributed after modification only under the same licensing terms.

You can choose individual building blocks to more finely adjust the release of your work. Depending on the combination, the open access idea is implemented to a greater or lesser extent. Licenses used are:

  • CC0: complete release, no restriction (as far as legally possible)
  • CC BY: attribution
  • CC BY-SA: attribution + sharing under the same licensing terms
  • CC BY-NC: attribution + non-commercial
  • CC BY-NC-SA: attribution + non-commercial + sharing under the same licensing terms
  • CC BY-ND: attribution + no derivative works
  • CC BY-NC-ND: attribution + non-commercial + no derivative works


General information:

At the initiative of the Alliance of Science Organizations in Germany, the DEAL project was launched in 2014. The aim of the project was and is to negotiate new licensing models for German academic institutions with the three major publishing houses Elsevier, Springer Nature and Wiley & Sons, and to help guide the transformation towards an open access publishing landscape.

The focus is on agreements called publish-and-read license agreements. For the participating institutions and those publishing there, these agreements mean, among other things:

  • The publishing authors of an institution have the right to publish their articles in selected open access or hybrid journals of the DEAL publishing houses in open access without being charged fees by the publishing houses.
  • Instead, publication costs are charged to the institution (which may charge them back to the publishing authors).
  • In return, the institution and its affiliated members receive permanent full-text access to all or nearly all of the publishing houses' eJournals and eJournal archives.

To simplify the implementation of the agreements, MPDL Services GmbH was founded in 2018. It is a subsidiary of the Max Planck Society and acts as a contract partner for the eligible institutions towards the DEAL publishing houses.

Status update: Positive agreements have been reached with Springer Nature and Wiley. Negotiations with Elsevier have not yet been concluded (03/2021).

Mainz University of Applied Sciences and DEAL:

Mainz University of Applied Sciences is a participant in the DEAL agreements with Springer Nature und Wiley & Sons. Key data:

  • Springer Nature:
    • Contract term: 2020-2022
    • Access for university members via SpringerLink to almost the entire journal portfolio (roughly 1,900 journals) and archive rights
    • Possibility to publish in hybrid journals in open access (OpenChoice)
    • Possibility to publish at reduced article prices in completely open access journals (Fully Open Access).
  • Wiley & Sons:
    • Contract term: 2019-2022
    • Access for university members via the Wiley Online Library to all of the publishing house's electronic journals (roughly 1,600 journals) and archive rights
    • Possibility to publish in hybrid journals in open access (Online Open)
    • Possibility to publish at reduced article prices in completely open access journals (Wiley Open Access).


General information: background information on open access

Funding programs for researchers

Open access media: overviews and directories

Open access media: tools for quality assessment and assurance

The DEAL project

Publishing houses: open access guidelines


Questions? Who to contact