Free access to research literature

February 20, 2014

Scientific literature must be free of charge and available to the general public on the Internet – according to the deep conviction of Georg Botz, Staff Unit “Science System, Research Policy” at Administrative Headquarters of the Max Planck Society, Prof. Jürgen Renn, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Prof. Robert Schlögl, Fritz Haber Institute, and Prof. Bernard F. Schutz, Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics, in the Open Access movement. For their efforts and commitment, they have now been honoured with the Communitas Prize by the Max Planck Society.

The awarding of the newly created prize will take place on 20 February 2014 within the framework of the meeting of the Scientific Council of the Max Planck Society in Berlin.

“With their strong commitment to and efforts for the Open Access movement, the award winners – in addition to their usual academic activities – have made a contribution to effecting change in the culture of scientific publishing,” says Prof. Peter Gruss, President of the Max Planck Society. “They have played a major role in making scientific research results free and publically accessible for countless colleagues. It is thanks to their tireless efforts that such remarkable successes in the Open Access area were possible, hopefully paving the way for further achievements in this area,” Gruss continued.

What is Open Access?

In keeping with Open Access, results from scientific research should be made available via the Internet to the general public free of charge, so that all those interested can read, download, copy, distribute, print, search through,  make reference to and make use of the text material in any other imaginable legal manner, as long as proper attribution of authorship is cited. The Max Planck Society is co-founder of the international Open Access movement. With the publication of the “Berlin Declaration of Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities” on 22 October 2013 and the subsequent international annual conferences, a process was set in motion that has raised awareness globally concerning access to scientific information. Over the past few years, Open Access has been increasingly gaining in acceptance in science as well as on the political level. At the MPG itself, a number of Open Access activities have been initiated: from initiatives at individual Max Planck Institutes to the much-respected journal “eLife”, which is published jointly by the MPG together with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Wellcome Trust, through to the Max Planck Digital Library that runs the Open Access Repository of the MPG and has concluded key contracts with Open Access publishing companies.

Living Reviews 

The Open Access journal Living Reviews in Relativity was already initiated back in 1998. It is one of the pioneer projects of the Open Access movement and has long enjoyed a strong reputation as being a leading address for information concerning research efforts in the area of relativity theory.  The concept of ‘living’ articles makes use of the advantages of Internet-based electronic publishing by enabling authors to incorporate new developments and research results through periodic updates. In order to guarantee top scientific quality, all authors are invited to submit by an international editorial board and the articles accessed by experts. The highly successful concept behind Living Reviews has, in the meantime, been adapted by numerous other publications in a broad range of research fields, from astronomy to political science.

Edition Open Access

The Edition Open Access provides open access to publications of the Max Planck Research Library for the History and Development of Knowledge with the aim of familiarizing a wide public with research results quickly and at reasonable cost. The contents offered on the website are aimed at scientists and students of a diverse range of subject areas and are consistently expanded and updated. In several publication series (Sources, Studies, Proceedings, Textbooks), interdisciplinary issues and the latest research topics are addressed. All published material is available both as free Open Access publications (HTML, eBook, PDF) with full source facsimiles and interactive features, and as low-cost print-on-demand books.

Quality assurance is guaranteed by an international editorial board. An editorial team organizes the publication process and makes the research results plus the underlying sources and research data freely available.

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