SHERPA will take over the Romeo Publisher Policy Table

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2003 19:41:55 +0100

On Fri, 24 Oct 2003, Elizabeth Gadd wrote:

> [T]he RoMEO
> Publisher Policy listing is to be taken over, updated and maintained by the
> SHERPA Project in a few weeks. A number of people have already submitted
> updates. You may wish to contact the SHERPA Project Manager, Bill Hubbard
> (bill.hubbard AT with your suggestions for clarifying the
> meaning of preprint and postprint. It would seem like this is a good time
> to do it. I know there is also some talk of making it into a database as
> opposed to a simple listing which will increase its usefulness.

Dear Bill & Lizzie,

It's splendid news that SHERPA is going to take over and perpetuate the
Romeo publisher self-archiving policy table!

This will be especially useful now with the Berlin Declaration and its
sequel (soon there will be a similar statement from France, and, I hope,
UK and US will not be far behind too):

The official national and international encouragement (and I hope soon
the mandating) of open access for all refereed research output by
the research's funders and by the researchers' employers will have a very
beneficial causal consequence for research, researchers, and the tax-payers
who fund it: It is neither open-access publishing nor open-access
self-archiving that is stipulated, but *open access* itself. That means
either (1) publishing in an open-access journal -- let us call those
"gold" journals -- whenever a suitable one exists ( <5% currently), or
(2) publishing in a toll-access journal *and* self-archiving the article
whenever a suitable gold journal does *not* exist ( >95% currently).

Non-gold come in two colors (and one of the colors has two shades):

(1) Blue/green journals already officially support author/institution
self-archiving (the "blue" journals support "preprint" self-archiving
and the "green" journals support "postprint" self-archiving). In the
present Romeo sample of 7000+ journals, 55% are blue/green. (I will call
them all "green," for simplicity in what follows. The difference in
shade does not make much difference, but it's important to make it
clear to authors, and it is in this connection what I will make some
suggestions below.)

(2) The remaining 45% are "white," which means that they do not yet
officially support author/institution self-archiving (though many of
them will support it if the author asks).

The effect of the Berlin Declaration and its sequelae will be that
authors will favor the gold and green journals. This will put
pressure on the white journals to become officially green, and it
*may* eventually encourage green journals to go gold -- but it would be
a *big* strategic mistake to insist on their going immediately gold now,
and it would hold up open access for another decade.

The joint strategy of either (1) publishing gold or (2) publishing
green and self-archiving accomplishes open access quickly, gently, and
non-coercively (for publishers), and gives publishers time to make any
adjustments that might be needed if and when the open access versions
ever turn out to generate toll-cancellation pressure.

What SHERPA needs to make clear to everyone -- authors as well as
publishers -- is what it means by "preprint" and "postprint," so that
authors will know what to self-archive:

Pre- and Post- is with respect to *peer-review*, not with respect to
"print," as the words might suggest. An eprint is merely a digital
draft. It can be a pre-refereeing draft, in which case it is a preprint;
or it can be a revised, refereed, accepted final draft, in which case it
is a postprint. That postprint may still undergo copy-editing, mark-up,
reference-linking, formatting, and all kinds of other publisher
enhancements that the publisher may or may not allow the author to
self-archive. *It does not matter!* The only thing that matters is that
the author should *know* exactly what the publisher allows.

If the publisher only allows the self-archiving of the unrefereed preprint,
then the author can do that, and can attach a list of corrigenda, to
indicate exactly what was changed in response to peer review, and how.

(My prediction is that most publishers will *not* want to support the
self-archiving of only the preprint and corrigenda in this sense
[blue]. They will want to support the self-archiving of the postprint:
the final, revised, accepted draft [green], though they may very well
balk at allowing the author to self-archive the publisher's own
proprietary enhanced draft, which includes the copy-editing, markup,
linking, etc.: the publisher's PDF, in other words, and its XML source.
Publishers who allowed that too would be as good as gold!)

But all of this will also make it clear that the only thing all publishers
can be expected to do in support of open access at this time (short of
going gold on command, at their own risk!) is to go green. It is up to
the authors then to take the few steps it takes to provide for themselves
and all their would-be users the open access that all researchers at
last recognise that they want and need.

So my suggestion is that you go back to the already-sampled publishers
(white, blue and green) and clarify what we mean by "preprint" and
"postprint". I also suggest that open-access journals not just be
listed as green, as they are now, but as gold.

I also recommend that the categories be collapsed in a different way
from the one they are collapsed in now. The categories of interest are:
white, vs. blue (preprint only) vs. green (preprint or postprint). There
is no need for a separate "postprint-only" category. See:

Please note in the questionnaire that postprint already logically
presupposes preprint. If you are green on postprints then you are a
fortiori green on preprints too.

And separate the issue of timing: A publisher is definitely *not* green
if they only allow self-archiving after a delay after publication. Some
journals allow it after 6 months or a year. This is not green, and
would not count as providing immediate open access, in conformity with
the Berlin Declaration. I would not even bother creating a category
for the various delayed-archiving publishers. All publishers know that
after sufficient time there is no significant sales potential, so if a
publisher with a 6-month embargo could be called green, they'd all be
green, and we would not have open access but a six-month embargo.

The preprint is another story, and needs to be queried very specifically:
I am certain that those who say "no preprint self-archiving until
publication" really mean "no postprint self-archiving until publication"
(where by "postprint" they mean the publisher's PDF). Clarify this,
and then don't call those preprints but postprints (green).

Those journals that really do mean "no self-archiving until publication" are
probably the few journals who are still trying to apply the Ingefinger
Rule to protect their priority. I don't think we should bother getting
into this issue, because the Ingelfinger Rule is not a copyright
matter, and is also unenforcable: How early (and how different) a prior
draft counts as really being the same as the accepted paper? Authors
who want to self-archive their early drafts can do so without any need to
worry if they wish (as this is not, repeat, a copyright matter). No
editor or referee will refuse a paper because a prior draft has been
self-archived. But it is not worth making an issue of any of this in the
open-access context, because the heart of open-access is the refereed,
accepted draft, not the author's early drafts, before even being submitted
to the journal.

So count any support of self-archiving as blue (preprint) or green
(postprint), even if it is not allowed until the date of publication.
No point making any separate category for a prepublication embargo:
Authors who want to, will be able to ignore it, if they are interested
in establishing early priority or in encouraging the early uptake of
unrefereed results, and they will not care otherwise, as long as the
results can be self-archived as soon as they are published. (No editor
or referee will be interested in watching the clocks either.)

Cheers, Stevan

Stevan Harnad
Received on Fri Oct 24 2003 - 19:41:55 BST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:47:06 GMT