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Publishing Open Access

Make your scientific publications and research data freely accessible on the Internet. Your work is then accessible without restriction for reading, downloading, saving, linking, printing and thus free of charge. You can grant further rights of use via free licenses. This enables users to use, reproduce, distribute or modify your documents. Your copyright remains uninjured.


Reasons for Open Access

  • Rapid dissemination of knowledge on the Internet, as the publication process is much shorter than for print media.
  • Better, free access to scientific online publications for everyone at home or at work, regardless of the location of a research institution or its financial resources. This also promotes interdisciplinarity and internationality. Cooperation between scientists is supported and a faster, direct exchange is possible. Research processes are accelerated and research cycles shortened.
  • OpenAccess publications are much better perceived than those not freely available on the net. The increased visibility goes hand in hand with an increase in the frequency of citations.
  • Free access to publicly subsidised research results is guaranteed. Multiple sales are prevented, because scientific institutions do not have to buy publicly funded research results from publishers in order to make them available to their users.

  • By storing them on our Cologne University Publication Server KUPS, your OpenAccess publication is available for the long term.

  • The Open Access movement is pioneering developments such as Science 2.0, e-science and Open Science, which will gain even more momentum in the future.

  • An overview of the Open Science idea is provided by Ralf Depping, Head of the Division Research and Publication Support, in his 2022 working paper: Open Science and Open Access on the rise (German).

Publishing strategies

  • Golden Road: This refers to the first publication of scientific papers, either as articles in Open Access journals, as monographs or in collective works and conference proceedings. Like closed-access publications, Open Access texts usually undergo a quality assurance process (usually peer review or editorial review). A publishing agreement governs the rights and conditions of use for the documents that are accessible free of charge. Open Access publication licences allow you to grant more extensive, specified rights (see also Creative Common licences).
  • Green Road: The green road (also known as self-archiving) refers to the secondary publication of a document on Open Access document servers or repositories. This can take place at the same time as or after the publisher's publication (see also secondary publication rights).

Secondary publication rights

Secondary publication right for the scientific sector is governed by Section 38 (4) of the Copyright Act (German). It cannot be effectively excluded by contract, i.e. as a scientific author you can always refer to it in the event of any conflicting phrases in the publishing contract.

However, there are the following conditions for the scientific secondary publication right:

  • It only applies to articles in a collection that appears periodically at least twice a year, e.g. a scientific journal.
  • The contribution must have been made within the scope of research activities at least half of which are publicly funded. This is the case if it is produced within the framework of public project funding or at an institutionally funded institution. In the predominant view, this also includes research at universities.
  • No profit may be made from the secondary publication.
  • The source of the first publication must be named.
  • The manuscript version accepted by the publisher may be published, i.e. the version submitted to the publisher and checked there, e.g. in a so-called peer review process. The printed version prepared and published by the publisher may not be published.
  • The contribution may not be "secondarily published" until 12 months after the first publication.

It is important that the exclusive right of use nevertheless remains with the publisher. For the purpose of secondary publication, authors are only granted the simple right to place their publication in a repository once.
At the University of Cologne, our University Publication Server KUPS is available for this purpose.

Creative Commons licences

In the case of articles published in Open Access, the copyright remains with the authors. At the same time, authors can be granted rights of use adapted to their own needs. Special open content licences such as the Creative Commons Licences allow you to precisely define the rights of use granted to the general public, to share your content under globally standardised conditions and to keep further publishing options open. You can use the following attributes to do this:

    • BY Attribution
    • ND No Derivs
    • NC Non Commercial
    • SA Share Alike

The combination of these four attributes results in the following CC licences:

CC-0: No copyright
The content can be used completely freely without having to give the name of the author.


CC-BY: the author must be named

The name of the author must be mentioned at the place of use. The work may be distributed, modified and remixed. Commercial use is permitted.

CC-BY-SA: transfer under the same conditions
The name of the author must be mentioned at the place of use. The work may be distributed, modified and remixed. Commercial use is permitted. The modified work must be made available under the same license (CC-BY-SA).

CC-BY-ND: no derivatives
The name of the author must be mentioned at the place of use. The work may be distributed, but not altered or remixed. Commercial use is permitted.

CC-BY-NC: no commercial use allowed
The name of the author must be mentioned at the place of use. The work may be distributed, modified and remixed. The work may not be used for commercial purposes.


CC-BY-NC-SA: no commercial use, allows distribution under the same conditions
The name of the author must be mentioned at the place of use. The work may be distributed, modified and remixed. The work may not be used for commercial purposes. The modified work must be made available under the same license (CC-BY-SA).


CC-BY-NC-ND: no modification and no commercial use allowed
The name of the author must be mentioned at the place of use. The work may be distributed, but not altered or remixed. The work may not be used for commercial purposes.


Predatory Publishing

Due to current research, the focus is shifting to a topic that has actually been around for some time and is bringing both science and the Open Access movement into disrepute. We are talking about Predatory Publishing or "predatory publishing". Predatory publishing refers to publishing houses or journals that charge fees for services that they do not provide or only provide in poor quality.

In the field of scientific publishing, it is Open Access publishers or journals that ask for submissions by mass e-mail. For some of them, the dubious intentions are immediately apparent, as the e-mails and websites are full of typing errors. For others, this is much more difficult, as the web presence and title descriptions are reminiscent of the external appearance of already established journals. Occasionally, names of renowned scientists are mentioned as editors without their knowledge or consent.

To protect yourself from predatory publishing, the Think Check Submit initiative has developed a checklist to help you check the trustworthiness and seriousness of a scientific journal. If in doubt, you should refrain from submitting a submission.

Of course, it is not possible to say in general terms that submitted or published articles in Predatory Journals are not scientific. It depends on the individual case. What is problematic, however, is the lack of a "peer review process", which checks and proves the correctness of the theses developed by other scientists.

Unfortunately, the topic has also spread to conferences, so-called Predatory Conferences, which massively solicit submissions and demand unusually high participation fees from speakers. When choosing a conference, you should therefore consider criteria similar to those used in publishing: Is the organizer known in the professional community? What about other participants (chairs etc.)? Will all contributions be accepted without detailed examination? Is participation particularly expensive? In case of doubt, you should also refrain from submitting a contribution.

Finding an Open Access journal for your own publication

You have prepared a manuscript and would like to publish Open Access in a journal and do not know which journal to choose? The following two tools can help you choose.


Developed as part of the BMBF-funded joint project "" and operated by Bielefeld University Library, the free research tool provides information on open access, subject area and impact for over 55,000 journals. The oa.finder thus helps researchers to identify a suitable journal for OA publishing.



How to find the right Open Access journal

  1. Select the type of publication you are planning under "My publication type".
  2. Click on your role in the publication process under "My role".
  3. Under "My organisation", enter "University of Cologne".
  4. You will then be shown a comprehensive list of possible journals. If you use the available filter, sort and search options, this list will become even clearer for your journal selection.


Under funding you can see whether the publication fund can be applied ("publication fund") or whether there is a "transformative agreement" in which the costs of the publication are covered in full or in part.



The B!SON Journal Recommender, developed with funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), is available both for independent use by researchers and as a tool for publication advice. The project has been realised and implemented by TIB Hannover and SLUB Dresden.

Based on the components of a manuscript to be published (title, abstract, references), the B!SON recommendation system identifies quality-assured OA journals that are relevant to the content. The similarity determination is carried out with machine learning methods as well as semantic and bibliometric methods, the data basis of the similarity matching is formed by open data corpora (article metadata of the Directory of Open Access Journals, citation relationship database of OpenCitations).or whether there is a "transformation contract" in which the costs of the publication are fully or partially covered.

After making your selection, please contact the UCL Open Access Team ( for a binding statement on the publication grant or cost coverage through a transformation contract.


Costs and financing possibilities of Open Access publications

Open Access document server

Publishing on Open Access document servers or repositories is usually free of charge, as is the publication on our University Publication Server KUPS.

Open Access journals

Publication fees may be charged for publishing in Open Access journals. You should therefore inform yourself in advance about the form of financing and the possible amount of fees. Initial information on this can usually be found on the respective websites of the publishers.

The University of Cologne has concluded Open Access transformation agreements with a number of publishers and publication platforms on behalf of its scientists. In addition to (almost) complete online access to the respective journal portfolios, the financing of publications in Open Access has been agreed upon.
List of publishers and publication platforms >>


Funding through funding agencies

Some funding institutions provide funding for the publication of articles in professional journals. For example, publication funds can be applied for from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) as part of funding applications. This also applies to the Volkswagen Foundation. Internationally or EU-wide, for example, the Wellcome Trust and Horizon 2020 should also be mentioned.

It is always advisable to consult the funding guidelines of the respective funding organisations. The SHERPA/JULIET database provides an initial overview of the Open Access requirements of research funding organisations.

Some universities provide financial support to their researchers for publication in an Open Access journal by means of a publication fund. This possibility is unfortunately not available at the University of Cologne at present.

Legal questions

As a matter of principle, you should only agree on the simple and not the exclusive right of use during contract negotiations with the publisher. In addition, the blocking or embargo period after which you may second publish your publication should be as short as possible. If the contribution has already been published elsewhere, it is essential that you check whether you have the secondary publication right before any further publication. SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) offers assistance in negotiating the secondary publication right with an (international) publisher on an individual basis (including English language wording aids for publishing contracts).

Further information

Your contact persons

Open access commissioner:

For questions on the funding of OA publications: