Open access to scholarly publications fosters innovation. An Open Access Policy of the Helmholtz Association is now ensuring that publications originating from funded projects will be made freely available to the public on the internet.
Many research results are still stashed away in subscription-based journal portals. Open access is changing that. Researchers make their publications freely accessible on the internet, facilitating transfer of the results to science, industry, and society.
Ten years ago, on 22 October 2003, leading research organisations including the Helmholtz Association have already outlined a vision of open science communication in the "Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities": publications, research data, and other digital objects should be linked and saved on the web without any barriers. Much has happened since that time.
Today about 30 % of publications authored at Helmholtz Centres are made freely accessible in repositories (full-text databases). Scientists of the Helmholtz Association are involved as editors of renowned open access journals and are actively helping to shape the change of the scholarly publication system towards open access (1). Open access has already become a de-facto standard in the sciences. The European Commission has set the goal to make 60 % of European publicly-funded research articles available free of charge on the net by 2016. 
On the occasion of the current international Open Access Week, the Helmholtz Association is announcing its new Open Access Policy. Beneficiaries of funding from the "Initiative and Networking Fund" of the Helmholtz Association will in future be expected to make publications originating from funded projects freely accessible. The Open Access Policy of the Helmholtz Association is guided by corresponding provisions of the Framework Programme of the European Union. Publications are to be made freely accessible in open access journals immediately on publication or - via repositories - no later than six months (sciences) or twelve months (social sciences and humanities) after the original publication. Free choice of a peer-reviewed medium of publication, to draw maximal attention to the research result, remains unchanged. Authors are supported by the Helmholtz libraries to implement the policy.
In 2004 the Helmholtz Association was the first scientific institution in Germany to adopt a recommendation for open access. Since 2005, the Helmholtz Open Access Coordination Office is giving support to the Helmholtz Centres implementing open access. A handout gives details about the policy and about options for implementation.