Making its scientists’ research findings available for the benefit of the whole of humanity, free of charge whenever possible (Open Access), is a key aspiration of the Max Planck Society. Out of this spirit, the “Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities” was initiated by the Max Planck Society in October 2003.

In order to support continued adoption of the principles outlined in the Berlin Declaration, as well as to track progress on their implementation, the original signatories agreed to support regular follow-up meetings. As a result, Berlin Open Access conferences have been convened annually and I’m very proud that the Berlin process has contributed to a world-wide coordination of national and international academic organizations in the field of Open Access: By now, more than 440 institutions worldwide have signed the “Berlin Declaration”.

Academic publishing is still out of step with the public use of the Internet, with its increasing emphasis on freely accessible information; it is also not realizing its potential relevance for society. It is in the interest of society that science is disseminated widely to provide a truthful and accurate grounding of what might be called common knowledge. These insights have, however, not yet led to broadly coordinated policies of states, funding organizations, academic and cultural heritage organizations.

On this background, the conference will provide an assessment of the role played by open access in scholarship and society today, and will highlight the benefits of increased Open Access. Another key issue is the identification of future challenges and the articulation of concrete goals associated with the vision of openness of scientific information and cultural heritage.

As a new element, a special “satellite conference” will precede this year’s Berlin conference. The purpose of this meeting is to foster the engagement of students and early stage researchers as the next generation of scholars. This new “satellite conference” will address both the power these groups have to create change as well as the challenges early-career researchers face from a scholarly publishing system in transition.

After ten years, it is time to consider how the energy and dedication of our institutions should be renewed and directed toward the challenges of the next decade. It is my pleasure to invite you to participate in this year’s “Berlin Open Access Conference” which will celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Berlin Declaration.

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