Open Access in the Helmholtz Association

The Helmholtz Open Access Policy

Open access, the unrestricted access to scientific publications and cultural heritage, is an ongoing and future trend in the scientific landscape worldwide. Research publications and other digital objects such as research data will thus be publicly available on the internet.

The Helmholtz Association was one of the initial signatories of the „Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities“ in 2003. This commitment towards open access was then formally approved by its Assembly of Members (assembly of the directors of the Helmholtz Centres): „Publications from the Helmholtz Association shall in future, without exception, be available free of charge, as far as no conflicting agreement with publishers or others exists.“ (Resolution of the Assembly of Members, 27 September 2004).

An Open Access Policy of the Helmholtz Association is ensuring that publications originating from funded projects will be made freely available to the public on the internet.


The Helmholtz Open Access Coordination Office

Since 2005 the Helmholtz Open Access Coordination Office supports the scientists as well as the respective Helmholtz Centres in the realisation of open access. The project´s Newsletter and the Helmholtz Open Access Workshops are only two examples of how the project informs and advises employees about new developments, strategies, and ideas.

One example of the project’s success is that most Helmholtz Centres now run institutional repositories. These openly accessible databases contain a significant and steadily growing share of the scientific output of the Helmholtz Association.

Regularly organised workshops support the establishment of a Helmholtz Open Access community. This community includes dedicated scientists who act as editors and/or members of the review board of open access journals and who, in addition, continue to develop the idea of open access in their individual research centres.

Open access to research data will in the future be an indispensable part of scientific culture and will generate a considerable added value to science. Even today, „data sharing“ already has a high relevance for the many Centres within the Helmholtz Association. A growing number of data centres with open access - including two of a total of three ICSU-World Data Centres in Germany - are run by Helmholtz Centres. Helmholtz scientists are actively involved in national and international initiatives related to open data.


Open Access in Helmholtz Centres

The „green road“ to open access

Most of the 18 Helmholtz research centres run institutional repositories, which are often closely related to the centre´s publication database and provide an OAI-PMH interface. In some Helmholtz Centres, scientists are explicitly requested to deposit the final drafts of their publications in the repository, given that copyright regulations with publishers are not infringed. To prevent the latter, Helmholtz scientists are asked to retain the respective copyrights when publishing with a traditional, non-open access publisher. Besides repositories for text publications only, an increasing number of data repositories are established by Helmholtz Centres.

The „golden road“ to open access

Helmholtz scientists are active as founders, editors and reviewers of open access journals and are supported by the Helmholtz Open Access Coordination Office. Furthermore, many centres support open access journals through institutional memberships and Helmholtz Centres play an active role in the pioneering „Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics (SCOAP³)“. The publication of peer reviewed research data is strongly promoted e. g. by the innovative journal „Earth System Science Data (ESSD)“, which is supported by Helmholtz scientists.


Open access to research data

Provision of and access to research data is of high priority for Helmholtz Centres, not at least because many centres run internationally well reputed large research infrastructures and devices. In spite of positive experiences in e. g. the geo- and life sciences, there are many technical, organisational and cultural challenges in respect of open data. One of these challenges is to guarantee traceability, trustworthiness, and persistence of research data. Model licenses to protect usage- and copyright on the one hand and to maximise societal benefit on the other hand are still to be developed in most cases.

An important and worldwide recognised project is „Publication and Citation of Scientific Primary Data“ (STD-DOI), funded by the German Science Foundation and pushed forward by Helmholtz Centres, among others. Its aim is to make primary scientific data citeable as publications. Results from this project were integrated in PANGAEA, the award winning „Publishing Network for Geoscientific & Environmental Data”, a database run mainly by the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI).

Additional Helmholtz Centres providing open access to research data include the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, hosting the "Scientific Drilling Database", where data from the International Continental Drilling Project (ICDP) are published using Creative Commons licenses. Moreover, two of a total of three ICSU-World Data Centres in Germany are run by Helmholtz Centres.


Letzte Änderung: 6.11.2013


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Germany License.

Commons License