General: Open Access

What is Open Access?

Open Access (OA) refers to the free and unrestricted access to scientific 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 OA is to make research results available quickly, permanently and without barriers. Possible advantages for authors include:

  • better discoverability 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 purely digital documents: faster publication compared to print publications
  • mutual benefit: free access to publications by other researchers.

General information

Publication routes: gold, green etc.

Depending on the author's wishes, aspirations and document type, there are various ways or roads to publish a document in OA:

  • Golden:
    The document is published by a publisher as an original publication in an OA medium with an OA licence, for example in a journal. It is financed, for example, by charges payable by the authors or their institutions.
  • Green:
    The document is published by a publisher 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 licence).
  • Bronze:
    The document is published freely available by a publisher as an original publication, but without an OA licence. Reading is therefore possible free of charge, but any other use - e.g. distribution, editing, etc. - is not permitted.
  • Hybrid:
    The document is published by a publisher as an original Open Access publication, but in a journal that is financed via the Closed Access model. Usually, authors have to pay charges for the open access release of their document.
  • Grey:
    The document is not published via a publisher, but made freely available as 'grey' literature on a document server or website (with an OA licence).

Open Access contrasts with the classic Closed Access model, in which publication costs are financed through user charges, which are usually paid by libraries or readers (e.g. through literature purchases, journal subscriptions).

Various business models have developed to finance the OA publishing process and the necessary infrastructure. Examples are:

  • author-based models:
    The publication costs are paid by the authors - usually after the document has been accepted by the publisher and before publication.
  • institution-based models:
    The authors' institution finances its own OA medium - e.g. a university document server - and covers the costs of publication and infrastructure.
  • Community fees models:
    Specialist societies finance the publication costs of their members through their membership fees or provide their own OA media for them.

Further information on OA business models:

Author funding

In the author-based funding models for gold or hybrid publications, the publication costs - also called "article processing charges" (APCs) - have to be paid by the authors.

In order to relieve them, funding or support programmes have been set up. For researchers at a university, there are, for example:

  • external offers from institutions such as the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) or the German Research Foundation (DFG),
  • internal offers from universities such as publication funds, from which the APCs for OA publications can be paid in part or in full.

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

Note: The publication fund of Trier University of Applied Sciences is currently exhausted. Funding is not possible until further notice.

Licence models

If a document is published in OA, various licences can be used to define the conditions and restrictions for further use of the publication.

Well-known models are:

  • Creative Commons licences (info)
  • Digital peer publishing licences (info)
  • Free Documentation licences (info).

Example: Creative Commons licences

Creative Commons licences are particularly widespread. They were developed by the non-profit organisation Creative Commons and can be applied to all works covered by copyright.

The design of the CC licence agreements is based on the following basic building blocks:

  • BY (attribution): The name of the author must be mentioned in the case of further use.
  • NC (non-commercial): The work may only be used for non-commercial purposes.
  • ND (no derivatives): The work may not be modified, e.g. no translation is permitted.
  • SA (share alike): After modification, the work may only be distributed under the same licence conditions.

By selecting individual components, you can grade the release of your work. Depending on the composition, the OA idea is realised to a greater or lesser extent. Licences used are:

  • CC0: full release, no restriction (insofar as legally possible)
  • CC BY: attribution
  • CC BY-SA: attribution + sharing under the same conditions
  • CC BY-NC: attribution + non-commercial
  • CC BY-NC-SA: attribution + non-commercial + sharing under the same conditions
  • CC BY-ND: attribution + no derivatives
  • CC BY-NC-ND: attribution + non-commercial + no derivatives.
Project DEAL


The DEAL project was launched in 2014 on the initiative of the Allianz der deutschen Wissenschaftsorganisationen (Alliance of German Science Organisations). The aim of the project was and is to negotiate new licensing models for German scientific institutions with the three major publishers Elsevier, Springer Nature and Wiley & Sons and to help shape the transformation towards an Open Access publishing landscape.

The focus is on the so-called "publish-and-read" licence agreements. For the participating institutions and their publishers, they mean, among other things:

  • The authors of an institution have the right to publish their articles in selected OA or hybrid journals of the DEAL publishers in OA.
  • Instead, the publication costs are charged to the institution (which may charge them back to the authors as in the case of Trier UAS).
  • In return, the institution and its members receive permanent full-text access to all or almost all of the publishers' e-journals and e-journal archives.

To facilitate 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 contractual partner for the eligible institutions vis-à-vis the DEAL publishers.

Trier UAS and DEAL:

Trier University of Applied Sciences participates in the DEAL agreements with the publishers Elsevier, Springer Nature and Wiley & Sons. The agreements run provisionally until the end of 2028.

Open Access

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