© Frank Eberhard
The concept of "open access" has empowered the GIGA to virtually eliminate the financial, technical, and legal barriers normally faced by many of those seeking to access the institute’s research findings. This publication strategy ensures that people all around the world have equal opportunity to keep up with scholarly advances.
It can often be difficult to gain access to information and knowledge, particularly for people in certain parts of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East – the GIGA’s specific regions of focus. As a publicly financed social science research institute and member of the Leibniz Association, the GIGA feels especially obliged to adhere to the Leibniz motto of "theoria cum praxi." For the GIGA, scholarship is for the benefit and good of humanity. Therefore, the institute strives to make its research findings available as soon as possible, which is in keeping with the principles of open access.
As the main component of a DFG-funded pilot project, the GIGA began publishing its journals as open access in 2009, making all content freely available (www.giga-journal-family.org) – though readers can still subscribe to the print versions. The GIGA Focus series is also published open access by the institute.
Open-access publications have been shown to enjoy a high degree of visibility and broad levels of dissemination. The GIGA's Africa Spectrum, for example, is one of the 10 leading area studies journals in the world. When research findings are freely accessible, both users and scholars benefit.
The GIGA encourages its scholars to publish articles in accordance with the basic foundation of open access. This applies to both initial publication in open-access journals and subsequent publication on so-called document servers, where articles that have already appeared in traditional subscription-based journals are made freely accessible online.
The GIGA has drafted its own open access guidelines to anchor the principles of open access to the goals of the institute. To provide organisational and legal assistance to the institute’s scholars, the GIGA Information Centre (IZ) has established the Open Access Helpdesk. The IZ is also currently working towards digitising relevant research data to make it more easily accessible in the future.
In addition, the GIGA is an active participant in both the Open Access Working Group of the Leibniz Association and the Open Access Days organised by the web platform open-access.net. The GIGA Journal Family’s transition from a wholly subscription-based model to an inclusive, open-access design is considered a paragon within scholarly publication circles. In March 2014 Prof. Dr. Bert Hoffmann was invited by the German Research Foundation (DFG) to give a presentation on this successful transition at the "Sino-German Training Workshop on Open Access" in Beijing, China.