The project EthnOA – Open Access in the ethnological disciplines supports and promotes the ongoing change in publication culture within social and cultural anthropology.


The project EthnOA Open Access in the ethnological disciplines supports and promotes the ongoing change in publication culture within social and cultural anthropology. The project supports Open Access in both the golden and the green model and establishes sustainable structures for an ongoing examination of the possibilities and limitations of Open Access in social and cultural anthropology.

Open Access – meaning the availability of scientific publications to the public free of charge for free re-use – is increasingly becoming the predominant form of publication. According to the Open Access Monitor, almost 63 percent of journal articles in all disciplines in Germany were published in Open Access in 2019-2023 (as of Nov 2023). Institutions such as the German Research Foundation and the German Council of Science and Humanities strongly recommend the transformation to Open Access publishing.

In the ethnological disciplines, including social and cultural anthropology, european ethnology and folklore studies, there is a great willingness to publish in Open Access. And there are many reasons that speak in favor of Open Access, especially in the ethnological disciplines: Open Access not only increases the visibility and retrievability of publications, it also improves access to published materials for ethnographically researched people and their participation. Furthermore, it promotes decolonization and dehierarchization in the publication process itself. Open Access facilitates both access to published knowledge and the opportunity to publish oneself while always keeping an eye on the next generation of researchers.

Nevertheless, Open Access is still far from being the standard. There are various reasons for this: A lack of knowledge about Open Access, uncertainty in dealing with legal issues or open licenses as well as missing or unknown subject-specific infrastructures and networking opportunities make it difficult for scholars from social and cultural anthropology to make their research available in freely accessible and reusable formats.

EthnOA is funded by the German Research Foundation's (DFG) Infrastructures for Scholarly Publishing funding program. Project period: October 2023 – September 2026

Project goals

EthnOA pursues three project goals:

  1. The development and expansion of expertise and support structures for Open Access publishing in social and cultural anthropology.
  2. The transformation of three journals of social and cultural anthropology into gold Open Access journals.
  3. Supporting researchers with the republication of their closed access publications through green Open Access.

EthnOA facilitates discussions, offers training and consultation on the topic of Open Access and is building a network that supports academic societies and journal editorial teams in the transformation to Open Access. The project thus contributes to the development of new, sustainable and critically reflected structures in social and cultural anthropology and its institutions.

Taking the example of the transformation of three central ethnological journals – Zeitschrift für Ethnologie/Journal for Social and Cultural Anthropology, ZfE/JSCA, Zeitschrift für Empirische Kulturwissenschaft, ZEKW (formerly Zeitschrift für Volkskunde, ZfVk), and Curare – Zeitschrift für Medizinethnologie/Journal of Medical Anthropology – the golden road to Open Access publishing is being implemented in partnership with the respective publishers.

EthnOA also promotes the republication of ethnological publications via green Open Access. Researchers are supported in exercising their self-archiving rights and sensitized for the transfer of rights for future publications. EthnOA supports publications on relevant institutional or specialist repositories, whereby publishers without an institutional affiliation can publish via the EthnOA section of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin's publication server.

Project partners

Prof. Dr. Gabriele Alex, Director of the department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies, Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen.

Matthias Harbeck, head of the Specialised Information Service for Social and Cultural Anthropology (FID SKA), University Library of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

PD Dr. Anne Dippel, research associate at the Chair of Folklore Studies (Cultural Anthropology), Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena.

PD Dr. Ehler Voss, academic coordinator of the Research Training Group Contradiction Studies – Constellations, Heuristics, and Concepts of the Contradictory, Universität Bremen.


With any questions please contact:

Dr. Kathleen Heft
Coordinator EthnOA-Project

Tel.: +49 30 2093-99266

Publishing on EthnOA

Would you like to publish on the EthnOA Open Access publication server? Follow this link for more information.

Version: January 2024