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The Austrian Science Fund Endorses De Gruyter for its Open Access Publishing Program

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Featured Image Credits: VC Max Price signs the Berlin Declaration on open access | © Courtesy of openuct.

In 2016, the Austrian Science Fund has included De Gruyter into the roster of publishing houses recognized as preferred venues for open access funding.

A Blog Article by Pablo Markin.

The decision of the Austrian Science Fund (Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF)) to list De Gruyter as one of its certified open access publishers represents a recognition of the role its imprint, De Gruyter Open, has been playing in promoting scholarly open access.

As part of this scheme for funding book processing charges, De Gruyter joins Palgrave Macmillan and Springer, among other publishing houses, a limited number of internationally recognized providers of open access solutions. For science and humanities authors, this decision will further expand their choice of academic book programs to which they can submit their manuscripts.

For De Gruyter, this development promises to improve its international standing in academic publishing, in relation to global leaders, such as Elsevier, Springer and Wiley-Blackwell, that make accessible collections of peer-reviewed publications to individual and institutional publishers alike in the fields of humanities and social sciences, biological and medical sciences and natural and technological sciences, as a recent report indicates. It is notable that, for book processing charges, the Austrian Science Fund does not include Elsevier and Wiley-Blackwell into the list of recognized open access publishers, even though the latter publishers are also active as book publishers.

In addition, separate agreements between the FWF and Wiley Open Access, Taylor & Francis and Springer Compact, among others, for article processing charges for open access journals exist. However, given a recent standoff between Elsevier and European universities over journal subscription fees and the inclusion of open access options into the agreements they sign, one can conclude that this certification by the Austrian Science Fund concerns not only the quality of manuscript review processes, but also the overall approach to open access that particular publishing houses evince.

In this respect, the open access policy of the Austrian Science Fund seeks to promote the accessibility of academic knowledge and primary data across exact sciences, social sciences and humanities fields, especially if they are generated via public funding. While this policy is in keeping with the 2003 Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, in the long term it will also be expected to promote the viability of open access publishing models and reduce the bargaining power of traditional scientific publishing models that rely on the proprietary ownership of intellectual property. For this reason, publishing houses, such as Elsevier, that have been heavily reliant on the latter model may be reluctant to be included into open access certification programs that commit to unconditional and free access to scientific works for end users.

Moreover, from the perspective of scholars that the Austrian Science Fund seeks to support, processing charges for stand-alone publications, such as books, are likely to be a more significant hurdle for the promotion of open access than those for journal publications, which tend to involve lesser costs on both authors’ and publishers’ sides.

By Pablo Markin


Featured Image Credits: VC Max Price signs the Berlin Declaration on open access | © Courtesy of openuct.

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