Germany Leads Shift Toward Open Science

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The higher education and research institutions of Germany believe science should not be locked behind paywalls. Through nationwide agreements with two of the world’s largest academic publishers, they have joined forces in a consortium known as Project DEAL to enable open publication of German research and restructure the financial streams around scientific publishing.

Spearheaded by the German Rectors’ Conference on behalf of the several hundred institutions comprised in the Alliance of Science Organizations in Germany, Project DEAL was established in 2014 to negotiate nationwide transformative open access agreements with major publishers. In January 2019 Project DEAL reached an agreement with Wiley and in January 2020 with Springer Nature.

The agreements grant every scholar in Germany the opportunity to make their research articles accepted for publication in, otherwise, closed journals freely available to the world to read.  Project DEAL institutions will also have full access to the publishers’ online journal portfolios.

Former library subscription funds will be redirected to cover the open publishing services and reading access via a fixed price fee.

The agreements with Wiley and Springer Nature are expected to result in the open publication of several thousand articles annually by German authors. The Springer Nature deal is even expected to be the “largest of its kind” according to Springer Nature. The deal excludes Nature, Nature Medicine and other subscription journals part of the Nature brand.

Elsevier is the only major academic publisher to hold out on a contract with Project DEAL after formal negotiations have not been resumed – but project DEAL and Elsevier are still in contact. Advocates of open science hope deals like those with Springer Nature and Wiley, as well as new contracts by Elsevier with other countries and school systems like Norway, Hungary and the University of California system, will result in a permanent transition of scholarly journals to open access.