Talking points

What is the Berlin Declaration?

The Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities is the result of a 2003 international Conference on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, initiated by the Max Planck Society in Berlin, Germany.

Its goal is to make scientific and scholarly research more accessible to the broader public by taking full advantage of the possibilities offered by digital electronic communication.

Why the Berlin Declaration?

The Internet has fundamentally changed the practical and economic realities of distributing scholarly knowledge and cultural heritage. For the first time, the Internet offers the chance support a global and interactive representation of human knowledge, including the guarantee of worldwide access. The drafters (and signatories) of the Declaration are committed to addressing the challenges of the Internet as a medium for distributing knowledge, and to positively advance the scholarly communication system.

What does the Berlin Declaration call for?

The Declaration acknowledges that an institution’s mission for disseminating knowledge is incomplete if the information is not made widely and readily available throughout society.  In order to realize the vision of a global and accessible representation of knowledge, the future Web has to be sustainable, interactive, and transparent, and content must be made openly accessible.

What actions does the Berlin Declaration encourage?

The Declaration’s drafters (and signatories) are interested in the promotion of the Open Access to benefit scholarship and society. They have signaled their intent to make progress by:

  • Encouraging researchers/grant recipients to publish their work according to the principles of Open Access.
  • Encouraging the holders of cultural heritage to support Open Access by providing their resources on the Internet.
  • Developing means and ways to evaluate open-access contributions and online journals in order to maintain the standards of quality assurance and good scientific practice.
  • Advocating that open-access publication be recognized in promotion and tenure evaluation.
  • Advocating the intrinsic merit of contributions to an open-access infrastructure by software tool development, content provision, metadata creation, or the publication of individual articles.

How are the goals of the Berlin Declaration supported?

Each year, an international conference of experts, policy makers, and interested participants is convened to evaluate the progress made to date towards the goals of the Berlin Declaration, and to provide support and momentum towards continuing progress. The conference has been held in such diverse locations as Paris, Southampton, and Beijing, and will be held in the United States for the first time in November 2011.

Who has signed the Berlin Declaration?

More than 300 government agencies, universities, research institutions, funding agencies, foundations, libraries, museums, archives, learned societies and professional associations have signaled their support for the goals of Open Access by signing the Declaration since its inception. The full list of signatories is available at

What does my institution need to do to sign the Berlin Declaration?

Institutions who wish to sign the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities are invited to so by contacting the Max Planck Society:

Prof. Dr. Peter Gruss
President of the Max Planck Society

Hofgartenstraße 8

D-80539 Munich

Where can I go to find additional information?

The Berlin Declaration Web site at the Max Planck Society has a wealth of information on the declaration and past conferences. Please see:

For information about this year’s conference in the United States, visit

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Jennifer McLennan

(202) 296-2296 ext. 121
jennifer [at] arl [dot] org
Washington, DC

Christoph Bruch

The Max Planck Society
+ 49 (30) 84 13 37 27
bruch [at] mpdl [dot] mpg [dot] de

Andrea Early

Marine Biological Laboratory
(508) 289-7652
aearly [at] mbl [dot] edu
Woods Hole, ME