Open Access in den Sozialwissenschaften

social science photo
Photo by Cameraman Phil

Demnächst erscheint das von Konstanze Söllner und Bernhard Mittermaier herausgegebene „Praxishandbuch Open Access“. Erfreuerlicher Weise war es auf Anfrage erlaubt, die finale Autorenfassung meines Beitrages Open Access zu publizieren. Diese Option habe ich, nachdem ich die bibliographischen Details erfuhr, genutzt. Mein Text zu Open Access in den Sozialwissenschaften steht LeserInnen im Open Access bereit.

Ulrich Herb (2017). Sozialwissenschaften. In K. Söllner & B. Mittermaier (Hrsg.), Praxishandbuch Open Access (S. 254–260). De Gruyter. DOI:10.1515/9783110494068-029 (die DOI löst aktuell nicht auf, da die Verlagsversion noch nicht publiziert ist)
Oder als Open-Access-Version unter:

Der Artikel bietet einen Überblick über den Status Quo des Open Access zu Textpublikationen, Forschungsdaten und Forschungssoftware in den Sozialwissenschaften und diskutiert mögliche Anreize zur Umsetzung der Open Science in den Sozialwissenschaften.

This text was published as a book chapter in the publication „Praxishandbuch Open Access“ („Open Access Handbook“) edited by Konstanze Söllner and Bernhard Mittermaier. It reflects the current state of Open Access to text publications, data and software in the Social Sciences and incentives to promote Open Science in the Social Sciences.

Open Access, Open Access zu Textpublikationen, Open Access zu Forschungsdaten, Open Access zu Forschungssoftware, Sozialwissenschaften, Soziologie, Open Science, Social Sciences, Sociology, Open Access to Research Data, Open Access to Research Software

Der Beitrag basiert teils auf meiner Dissertation zur Open Science in der Soziologie. Für Leser dieses Blogs und meiner Publikationen könnten auch andere Postings über Open Access und Open Science in den Sozialwissenschaften oder Soziologie interessant sein.

Numbers and shares of Open Access Journals in Sociology charging publication fees

In June 2014 I analysed the data of the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) to find out to what extent Open Access Journals in Sociology (as listed by the DOAJ) charge their authors with publication fees (or article processing charges APCs). A CSV-file offered for download by the DOAJ did not contain any information on APCs, in fact the whole APC-column was empty, so I gathered the information manually from the DOAJ’s search interface. Unfortunately the DOAJ’s information on sociological journals using APCs was too a large degree wrong.

On the eleventh of June the DOAJ listed 109 sociology journals.  In eleven cases the information on APCs was wrong:

  • nine were labeled as APC-based although they did not use APCs
  • one was labeled as using APCs conditionally, but in fact it charged every article published
  • one was charging its authors although the DOAJ listed it as not using APCs

This means that for this subset of journals the information on publication charges was wrong in more than 10 % of all journals. Focusing on the eleven journals that – according to the DOAJ – use (always or conditionally) APCs the situation is even worse:  10 of these journals (90,9 %) are categorized wrongly.

In fact only three out of these 109 journals (2,75 %) charge their authors: Sociology Mind (ISSN 2160-083X) charges 700 US-$ per article (plus 50 US-$ for each additional page). Studies of Sociology of Science (ISSN 1923-0176) charges 300 US-$ per article and Intersticios (ISSN 1887-3898) charges beween 10 and 20 € per article (depending on the number of pages). None of these APC-based journals has a journal impact factor  assigned (according to the Journal Citation Reports Edition 2012). Instead four of the other journals (not using APCs) have an impact factor assigned.

Compared to other disciplines APCs are a rare phenomenon in Sociology (as mentioned 2,75 % of the journals know publication fees): Solomon & Björk (2012) report a portion of 26 % of Open Access journals charging their authors, whereas Shieber (2009) reports 23,14 %. Shieber seems to have trusted in the data offered by the DOAJ, therefore his numbers might potentially be biased. Solomon & Björk used a randomized sample of journals and checked for each journal within the sample the information on APCs, so their results are very trustworthy. Please not: This comment intends not to malign Shiebers excellent work.

The data is openly available as:

Herb, U. (2014). Numbers and shares of Open Access Journals in Sociology charging publication fees (article processing charges APCs). Zenodo. doi:10.5281/zenodo.10760
Shieber, S. (2009). What percentage of open-access journals charge publication fees? The Occasional Pamphlet. Retrieved June 05, 2012, from
Solomon, D. J., & Björk, B.-C. (2012). A study of open access journals using article processing charges. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 63(8), 1485–1495. doi:10.1002/asi.22673


Editors of sociological Open Access journals seem hesitant to adopt Open Knowledge principles

And again a by-product of my dissertation thesis: I compared the numbers and shares of journals from all disciplines using Creative Commons (CC) licenses with the numbers and shares of Open Access journals from Sociology using CC licenses. The date of data collection was June 8, 2014, the data source was the Directory of Open Access Journals DOAJ, it listed 9.834 journals at the date mentioned. The results indicate that editors of sociological Open Access journals are more hesitant than editors of non-sociological Open Access journals to adopt Open Knowledge principles.


All Journals

no CC license6.01961,21%


The total number of journals using a CC license was 3.815 (38,79% of all journals). 2.074 journals (21,09% of all journals, 54,36% of the journals using any of the CC licences) used a CC-by or CC-by-SA license and thus were compatible with the Open Definition OD. The OD tries to transfer the principles of open source software on any sort of knowledge, it defines Open Knowledge.

At the date of data collection the DOAJ listed 109 sociological Open Access journals. These used at a rate of 32,11% (35 journals) CC licenses, a value that is more or less comparable to the value among all DOAJ-journals. But only 8 journals (7,34%) from this subset used a license that is compatible with the OD – a rate that is much lower than the OD compliance rate of all journals. Sociological journals however seem to prefer CC licenses with non commercial (nc) clauses that prohibit commercial exploitation more (20,19%) than all journals (10,29%). Thus it seems that editors of sociological Open Access journals hesitate much more than their colleagues from other disciplines to adopt Open Knowledge licenses.

Sociology Journals

no CC license7467,89%


Data, tables, R-code and information on data collection are available via Zenodo. Please cite this data and information as:

Herb, U. (2014). Numbers and shares of Open Access Journals from all disciplines and from the discipline Sociology using Creative Commons Licenses as listed by the Directory of Open Access Journals (2014-06-08). Zenodo. doi:10.5281/zenodo.10577