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Universitätsbibliothek Mainz

Tips for Authors

We have put together information for you on the different methods of Open Access publishing, licenses, and predatory Open Access.

Publications that are available Open Access immediately upon publication are referred to as Gold Open Access publications.

This is particularly common in journal articles, especially in the natural and life sciences. If the entire journal is published Open Access, it is a so-called “Gold OA journal”. A comprehensive list of these journals can be found in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).

If authors can choose an Open Access option for individual articles in a journal that would otherwise require a subscription, this is referred to not as Gold but as hybrid Open Access.

In many cases, publishing Open Access is also offered for monographs and anthologies. Unlike in case of journals, a paid print version is usually brought onto the market at the same time as the freely available digital version.   

Open Access publications cost nothing for the readers, but their quality assurance and production have to be financed. Financing via publishing fees (APC, BPC) is now very common among publishers. These costs are to be paid by the authors, their institutions, or third-party funds. You can find information about our funding options for Article and Book Publishing Fees under How to Get Reimbursed

Documents in repositories such as Gutenberg Open Science are Gold Open Access publications if they are published there for the first time. There are usually no publishing fees for using the repositories of scientific institutions.

A secondary publication can also noticeably increase the reach and reception of your publication. In its Open Access Policy, Mainz University therefore explicitly encourages researchers to make use of this opportunity.

In the case of a secondary Open Access publication, a publication that has previously appeared elsewhere and is subject to a fee or subscription is made freely available in a repository with a certain delay. A distinction can be made between institutional repositories such as Gutenberg Open Science, which are operated by a (scientific) institution, and disciplinary repositories that specialize in certain subject areas and work across institutions. The OpenDOAR service offers an international directory of repositories.

The right to secondary publication is usually reserved for the authors. However, the possibilities for this vary from publisher to publisher and can be looked up on the provider’s website or in the SHERPA/RoMEO directory. There you will also find information on whether the so-called “publisher’s PDF” (the version published by the publisher) or the “accepted version” (the version of the manuscript accepted after the review) may be used.

Irrespective of these regulations of the individual publishers, authors have had a legal right to a secondary publication since 2014 if their publication is first published by a German publisher. This right, regulated in sec. 38 para. 4 UrhG, is subject to the following conditions:

  • It must be a scientific publication with public funding.
  • The right only applies to articles in periodical publications (e.g. journals, collections).
  • The secondary publication may take place no earlier than twelve months after the first publication.
  • Only the manuscript version accepted by the publisher may be used.
  • The secondary publication may not be made for commercial purposes.
  • The exact bibliographic data of the first publication must be given in the secondary publication.

Publication in the Gutenberg Open Science repository of Mainz University Library occurs under a standardized license from Mainz University (deposit license). In addition, by granting a Creative Commons license (CC license), you can specify how your publication may subsequently be used by third parties. The granting of a license in favor of Mainz University as well as a CC license both contain copyright regulations. However, they concern different legal relationships:

License Grant (Deposit License)

As the term deposit license suggests, this is a deposit or archiving license. The granting of the license regulates the relationship between the university and the author(s). In particular, this determines the extent to which the rights of use are transferred to the university or remain with the authors. While commercial publishers tend to have very extensive, usually even exclusive rights of use assigned to them, you only have to grant Mainz University a simple right of use (Creative Commons Licenses handout, page 2), i.e. you are free to use your work elsewhere to publish again. This is in keeping with the Open Access concept and thus the objective of the university repository of Mainz University.

Creative Commons License

The CC license determines the relationship with the readers of the publication. This defines the conditions under which the copyrighted content may be used. You have the opportunity to choose between different specific types of use. The use of a CC license is not mandatory, but is recommended by renowned organizations such as the German National Library (DNB), as this creates legal certainty for users about permitted uses. CC licenses are now well known and are explained in an understandable way.

The Individual CC Licenses at a Glance

See this handout for more information.

What is Predatory Open Access?

In short, the term describes the business model of so-called online journals offering the Open Access publication of scientific articles for a fee, but without guaranteeing a quality assurance process (e.g. peer review) and no editorial processing of the articles that are published with traditional journals (online or print, closed access or Open Access) would be expected. This is not always apparent at first glance. A quality assurance process may only appear to be carried out, while the alleged peers or members of the editorial board either do not exist at all or have never agreed to review for the journal. It can also happen that initially the free publication of an article is suggested and the author is only informed about the forthcoming publication fees after submission. It is also possible for the journal to imitate the design or the name of renowned publishers, in order to give the impression that they are the same entity, when this is not the case.


The phenomenon is almost unknown in the German-speaking world. However, numerous English-language Open Access journals have come under suspicion of predatory Open Access. Journals in the MINT field are particularly affected, but the problem is not entirely unknown in the humanities either, for example inmedieval studies.


In the case of less well-known Open Access journals, it is advisable for authors to carry out a more detailed investigation before submitting a contribution.

  • Directories and Lists

    TheDirectory of Open Access Journals(DOAJ) offers a good starting point for finding quality-assured Open Access journals. Furthermore, you can check whether the issuing publisher belongs toOASPA, the international community of Open Access publishers, which has strict criteria for membership. Thechecklist Think!Check!Submit!can be helpful to get an impression of the integrity of a journal before submitting an article.
  • Beware unexpected offers after conferences

    Young scientists in particular receive offers from publishers to publish a written lecture in an alleged specialist journal that they have never heard of before, often after conferences, workshops, symposia, or conferences, that were announced online, at which they gave a lecture in English. It is possible that it is a reputable publisher and a recognized specialist journal, but to be on the safe side, the person concerned should consult the internet, colleagues, or—if available—the supervisor of his scientific qualification work to try to learn more about the publisher or journal in question.
  • Other information resources

    The online catalogs or discovery systems of the scientific libraries also offer tips to identify untrustworthy Open Access publishers/journals—or better yet, to exclude them. As a rule, an academic library will only subscribe to those online journals that are relevant to the subject in question and that are recognized by the majority of academics.

We have put together information in German and in English as a handout for you.

Sources and Further Information

We have compiled information on copyright law for you.

You have prepared a manuscript and would like to publish Open Access in a specialist journal—but you don’t know exactly which one and whether it will cost you anything? Or would you like to publish a book Open Access, but don’t know which publisher offers OA? The oa.finder can help you here.

The oa.finder contains over 55,000 journals which are Gold Open Access, what impact they have, whether they charge APCs and how high they are, and whether your institution assumes these publication costs via a transformation contract or publication fund. You can filter the journals by subject area and keywords, or search by publisher and ISSN. In addition, information and links related to open access at your academic institution are displayed—be it the OA guideline, the publication fund, or the repository.

Theinformation platform offers further, extensive information.