Reading without barriers
Scientific knowledge should not be a business model, but should be made available at no cost to all people worldwide. That is the basic idea behind Open Access. The movement emerged in the mid-1990s and has experienced steady growth ever since. As a counterpart to commercial science publishers, who often charge high usage fees for publications, many researchers have founded their own journals in recent years, enabling alternative publication channels and a new approach to research literature. However, submitting, reviewing, producing, and publishing research papers is very time-consuming and adds to the already heavy workload of researchers. University presses like BerlinUP can help.
Dr. Andreas Brandtner is someone who not only embraces the idea of Open Access, but who also works to put it into practice. Funded by the Berlin University Alliance (BUA), the head of the university library of Freie Universität Berlin, together with the library managements of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin, and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, recently founded the university press "Berlin Universities Publishing" (BerlinUP) as an Open-Access-Publisher.
Lots of encouragement from the scientific community
"In Berlin in particular, we started thinking about Open Access very early on," says Andreas Brandtner. For example, the "Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities" adopted by German and international research organizations in 2003 is considered a milestone in the Open Access movement. In 2015, the State of Berlin adopted an Open Access strategy with the aim of making scientific publications, research data, and data on cultural heritage publicly accessible and usable. A short time later, the Open-Access-Büro Berlin was established at Freie Universität Berlin, which supports the Berlin scientific and cultural state institutions in implementing the Open Access strategy.
Following on from this, the Berlin Universities Publishing project was launched in 2019 – initially as a joint publication platform for the four BUA partner institutions – with funding from the Excellence Alliance. "Getting started with excellence funding was enormously important, otherwise we would not have been able to manage this project," emphasizes Andreas Brandtner. All four university libraries involved were able to hire staff and set up the necessary structures for a future Open Access publisher. The idea of a university press was well received by the scientific community: "Researchers at all four BUA institutions found it important to offer new publication channels and had a very pronounced interest in our plans," recalls Andreas Brandtner, who observes a growing desire in academia in general to "bring publishing back into the academic sphere."