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The Austrian Science Fund at the Forefront of Open Access Promotion

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The Old Library of Stift Melk, Austria, June 29, 2008 | © Courtesy of Martin Haesemeyer.

The adoption and promotion of Open Access by the Austrian Science Fund promises to cut academic publication costs across the publishing workflow in the long-term.

A Blog Article by Pablo Markin.


As an independent, publicly supported foundation furthering scholarly research, the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) provides research-related, independently peer-reviewed funding in the fields of exact and social sciences as well as humanities and arts that can be applied for in English. As part of this, it supports transition to Gold Open Access (OA) via publication funding, OA deal negotiations and OA model support, especially for non-commercial initiatives. Based on an FWF report, this represents a long-term policy of the FWF that, according to Christoph Kratky, its former president, has been aimed at reducing the publication and access costs of academic institutions, despite the start-up investment that launching OA models demands, ever since 2013: “It will not be cheap, but the longer we wait, the more expensive it will be.”

The FWF has started providing the reimbursement of OA author fees for publications in peer-reviewed journals as early as 2001, has been among the signatories of the 2003 Berlin Declaration, has introduced an OA publication mandate for projects it supports in 2008, has launched OA book funding programs in 2009, has joined the funders of arXiv and SCOAP3 since 2013, spends yearly circa 3 million Euros on OA support, and has started financing the DOAJ since 2015. Thus, it comes as no surprise that De Gruyter has been added to the list of its recognized OA publishers in 2016, since various OA support models have been trialed with other publishers, such as Taylor & Francis, as early as 2014. Especially in relation to OA books, the FWF has registered a steadily growing interest in and download rates of OA publications, such as through the FWF E-Book Library and OAPEN Library.

In the long term, the centrality of OA to the European and international academic publishing market is slated to increase, as from 2025 all scholarly publications receiving public support will be required to be made accessible to the general public with no delay in Austria, in correspondence to the Gold OA standard. This OA effort will be bolstered by OA-promoting policies, the re-organization of publishing contracts and publication cost transparency, such as the promulgation of OA policy adoption recommendations among publicly financed research organizations and funding bodies toward 2017, while making them mandatory from 2020. This is especially relevant for research publications that will be required to be published in OA only from 2020, as a recent FWF report indicates.

These OA support efforts of the FWF, such as covering OA book publication fees, are aimed at preventing the domination of the academic publishing market by a limited number of global paywall-access-reliant publishing conglomerates in the future.

By Pablo Markin


Featured Image Credits: The Old Library of Stift Melk, Austria, June 29, 2008 | © Courtesy of Martin Haesemeyer.

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