Open academic communication: Germany approaches a European level

For social sciences and humanities (SSH), digitalization offers great opportunities for research and education. Therefore, research data infrastructures need to be established and expanded – throughout Germany and Europe. At the same time, research data need to be managed professionally.


As the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) together with the German Länder is integrating already established infrastructures into a National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI), there still is the need to embed national infrastructures into a quickly developing infrastructure landscape on a European level. Beside this, one of the most prominent challenges remains: to efficiently coordinate research activities from multiple disciplines, based on different skills and organized in several countries.

“SSH research and scholarly communication practices are divided across a wide array of disciplines and languages. While this specialization makes it possible to investigate the extensive variety of SSH topics, it also leads to a fragmentation that prevents SSH research from gaining its full potential. It makes it costly to bring together research results and to reach a higher impact on the society”, says Judith Schulte, communication officer for OPERAS, based at the Max Weber Foundation (MWF).

OPERAS: Enabling efficient open scientific communication

One solution is OPERAS, the European Research Infrastructure (RI) for the development of open scholarly communication in the social sciences and humanities (SSH). Since 2017, the OPERAS RI, with the MWF as a core partner, aims to enable efficient scientific communication, especially publications, in the sense of the open science principles through coordination and support for the SSH.

The OPERAS Partners in Europe.


“OPERAS supports the adoption of Open Science by SSH research communities at European level and it supports "bibliodiversity" in the academic field, meaning the diversity of research outputs, publication languages and cultures across Europe. OPERAS enables the diverse research communities in the SSH to collaborate openly and address the needs for knowledge of the European societies, locally and globally“, says Pierre Mounier, Coordinator of OPERAS and deputy director of OpenEdition (Fr).

OPERAS counts currently 40 members from 16 countries and is led by a Core Group of nine institutions. It coordinates cooperation and technical connections among universities, research institutions, infrastructure providers and science initiatives. The activities of the OPERAS RI comprise research and development, the transfer of knowledge and technology, best practices and training programmes, evaluations and user studies, as well as standardization and interfaces, including connection to the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC). OPERAS is committed to the FAIR principles, adopting standards to make publications and research data “FAIR” (findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable).

Bringing research results, data, researchers and society together

Most SSH communication and publication service providers are not working at global level, leading to a fragmented landscape. Coordinating the distributed publication and communication infrastructures provides a direct impact on the outreach and internationalization potential of SSH research. The MWF’s participation in OPERAS means a substantial boost for the activities in two of its key targets: connect German researchers and institutions with the internationalization of the humanities and the furtherance of open academic communication.

To tackle these issues of spreading, OPERAS is developing different services to bring researchers and society together and make research results and data findable. The OPERAS Discovery Service, for example, will improve the accessibility and dissemination of research output in the SSH through a single point of entry. It will provide a multilingual environment in the SSH for data, publications, researcher profiles and research projects.