Comment on:

The following comment refers to this/these guideline(s)

Guideline 13

Providing public access to research results

As a rule, researchers make all results available as part of scientific/academic discourse. In specific cases, however, there may be reasons not to make results publicly available (in the narrower sense of publication, but also in a broader sense through other communication channels); this decision must not depend on third parties. Researchers decide autonomously – with due regard for the conventions of the relevant subject area – whether, how and where to disseminate their results. If it has been decided to make results available in the public domain, researchers describe them clearly and in full. Where possible and reasonable, this includes making the research data, materials and information on which the results are based, as well as the methods and software used, available and fully explaining the work processes. Software programmed by researchers themselves is made publicly available along with the source code. Researchers provide full and correct information about their own preliminary work and that of others.


In the interest of transparency and to enable research to be referred to and reused by others, whenever possible researchers make the research data and principal materials on which a publication is based available in recognised archives and repositories in accordance with the FAIR principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable). Restrictions may apply to public availability in the case of patent applications. If self-developed research software is to be made available to third parties, an appropriate licence is provided.

In line with the principle of “quality over quantity”, researchers avoid splitting research into inappropriately small publications. They limit the repetition of content from publications of which they were (co-)authors to that which is necessary to enable the reader to understand the context. They cite results previously made publicly available unless, in exceptional cases, this is deemed unnecessary by the general conventions of the discipline.

Possible reasons for restricting the publication of research results

One reason for not making results publicly available may be that researchers do not hold the sole rights to the research results. Examples here may include the use of software or other tools requiring a licence.

In cooperative ventures with commercial enterprises, contractual agreements can partially restrict or delay public access to the content of research results, for example so as to provide the opportunity to register IP rights. Results from research that is (at least partially) financed out of public funds must be made accessible in compliance with the provisions jointly agreed on in the cooperation agreements. The model cooperation agreement between research institutions and commercial enterprises published by the DFG provides for the following, among other things: “In the event that the Parties are unable to reach an agreement on the content and/or the form of the planned publication, the publication in question may also be filed for publication without the consent of the other Party provided that the publication does not disclose the other Party’s work results or confidential information.”

The comment belongs to the following categories:

GL13 (General)