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Research in a more open, transparent, and collective manner—the Austrian Science Fund FWF has revised its open access guidelines to be aligned with the principles of the international Plan S initiative starting in 2021. Research results will in future be openly available to everyone free of charge.

The FWF’s new open access guidelines will go into effect on 1 January 2021 and be in line with the international Plan S initiative. Plan S was developed by cOAlition S, a group of 24 research funding organisations, to provide open access to scholarly research results. Accordingly, funding will only be granted to those publications which are openly available to the public at the time of publication and not first after an embargo of several months, as is often the case now. This new policy increases the visibility of researchers and guarantees them the rights to their research results. Research institutions are supported through transparent pricing and contractual conditions for publication costs.

Scholarly literature will be openly available and free of charge

Open access stands for transparent research and has been actively promoted for more than 20 years by a number of initiatives (including, for instance, the Berlin Declaration), research funding organisations like the FWF, researchers, and institutions (for more on this, see the scilog interview with Dr. Ulrich Pöschl). The potential of open access has once again become apparent this year during the COVID-19 pandemic, in which quick and trouble-free access to scholarly information is essential.

In an effort to ensure immediate access to scholarly literature in all academic disciplines, cOAlition S has through Plan S presented common principles on how peer-reviewed publications should be made openly accessible starting in 2021. The overall aim of the currently 24 research funding organisations is to make the research results funded by them fully and freely available.  As one of the first members of cOAlition S the FWF commits itself to undertake a revision of its open access guidelines in accordance with Plan S. The new guidelines are the next step on the path to more open access in Austrian research.

What is new for FWF-funded researchers?

The new Plan S-aligned Open Access Policy applies for all FWF research projects that are approved as of 1 January 2021. The peer-reviewed scholarly articles resulting from these projects must be published open access without delay. This will be the case for the first projects funded by the FWF at around the end of 2021 or the beginning of 2022. For other publication formats such as monographs and edited volumes, a binding guideline will be developed as part of cOAlition S in the next few years.  

Three open access publication options are available to researchers:  

  1. Publication in an open access journal/platform (Gold Open Access)
  2. Archiving of the accepted manuscript in a freely accessible repository under a Creative Commons Attribution licence CC BY without an embargo (Green Open Access). It should be noted here that a CC BY licence must be applied to the accepted manuscript in the acknowledgement already at the time when the manuscript is submitted to the publisher. For more information on this, see the „Rights Retention Strategy“ and the text that needs to be included according to the FWF OA Policy.  
  3. Publication in a subscription journal, provided that a transformative open access agreement exists between the research institutions or funding agency and the publisher, or the journal is a transformative open access journal (Hybrid Open Access)

cOAlition S has developed the Journal Checker Tool (JCT) to help authors publish in compliance with Plan S. Authors simply have to enter three pieces of information in the JCT—journal, funder, and institution—to quickly identify what options are available for publishing in compliance with Plan S and thus the FWF’s Open Access Policy.

15 years on the path to open access

For more than 15 years, the FWF has been helping funded researchers and research institutions to implement open access and will continue to do so in the future:

  • Within the scope of its Peer-reviewed Publications (journal articles) and the Standalone Publications (monographs and other formats) programmes, the FWF has provided financial support towards publication costs since 2004.  
  • In close cooperation with Austrian research institutions, a number of transformative open access publication agreements have been concluded, enabling authors to publish open access in many journals at transparent costs.  
  • In addition, the FWF and many Austrian research institutions promote alternative publication models such as SciPost or the Open Library of Humanities. Support is also provided for infrastructures such as the Directory of Open Access Journals (registration of open access journals), OAPEN (repository for open access monographs), and Europe PubMedCentral (pdf, 202KB) (repository for articles in the life sciences).
  • Austrian research institutions have a number of internationally registered repositories at their disposal, in which publications can be archived in a freely accessible and sustainable manner. Where such institutional repositories are not available, there are opportunities for all academic disciplines such as ZENODO.

cOAlition S will carry out an interim evaluation until 2024 to make any necessary changes and to account for any new developments.


The FWF’s new Open Access Policy is available at the following link: https://www.fwf.ac.at/en/research-funding/open-access-policy/open-access-to-peer-reviewed-publications

scilog interview with Dr. Ulrich Pöschl


If you have any questions, please contact Falk Reckling or Katharina Rieck from the “Strategy - Policy, Evaluation, Analysis” department.

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