Re: The Green and Gold Roads to Open Access

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sat, 14 Feb 2004 20:17:09 +0000

Suhail A. R wrote:

> I finally understand what you imply by the "green" road to OA. But this then
> brings up one general & one personal question:
> 1. Generally, lets face the fact, I found out specifics about the "green"
> road to OA from this forum. Few in the research world take it seriously
> because even though many have heard about it, few know what it means, much
> less how to implement it. Why so?

I am afraid you still don't understand. The name "green" road may not
be in common parlance, but "self-archiving" is, and self-archiving is done
by even more authors than use the term "self-archiving":

Please look at the data in the transparencies
that were in the foregoing message:

Do the authors of 250,000 self-archived articles in 2003 sound like few?
Would you not say that *doing* it amounts, a fortiori, to "taking it seriously"?
seriously enough to implement it?

And look also at:

That is merely an (under)estimate of the annual proportion of articles
that have been self-archived by their authors relative to the number
that have been published in OA journals by their authors. As I said,
the ratio is at least 3:1. So what is your point?

My own point is that 250,000 self-archived articles in 2003, and a ratio of
3:1 are still nothing to crow about, because the total number of articles
published in 2003 was about 2.5 million, and *that* is the target.

If what you are saying is that the OA message (of either color) has
not yet gotten through to the authors of *those* (non-OA) articles,
you are quite right. But that is what this Forum is about! Getting that
message out.

> 2. Personally, lets predict the scenario into the next twenty to fifty
> years, assuming problem 1 is rectified: Self archiving is well advanced.
> Will TA journals not be forced to take the "Golden" road to OA due to
> falling subscriptions? If so, are we not just postponing the inevitable for
> the third world?

Forgive me, Suhail, if in 2004, when there is a pressing Immediate Access
Problem for at least 80% of the articles published, that I do not devote
time and energy to speculating about what might or might not happen in
20-50 years! The Problem is the lack of access *now*. In 20-50 year,
most of those lacking that access *now* will be dead. The immediate
problem is providing that access for them *now*, so they can use those
research findings *now* to build their own research upon (i.e., research

If you insist that I speculate, I can quote the speculations I have
already made (and linked for you, in several previous replies) although
I find them utterly beside the point at this time. Here they are, again, in

                 4.2 Hypothetical Sequel:

    Steps i-iv [see end] are sufficient to free the refereed
    research literature. We can also guess at what may happen after
    that, but these are really just guesses. Nor does anything depend on
    their being correct. For even if there is no change whatsoever --
    even if Universities continue to spend exactly the same amounts on
    their access-toll budgets as they do now -- the refereed literature
    will have been freed of all access/impact barriers forever.

    However, it is likely that there will be some changes as a
    consequence of the freeing of the literature by author/institution
    self-archiving. This is what those changes might be:

    v. Users will prefer the free version?

    It is likely that once a free, online version of the refereed
    research literature is available, not only those researchers who
    could not access it at all before, because of toll-barriers at their
    institution, but virtually all researchers will prefer to use the
    free online versions.

    Note that it is quite possible that there will always continue to be
    a market for the toll-based options (on-paper version, publisher's
    on-line PDF, deluxe enhancements) even though most users use the
    free versions. Nothing hangs on this.

    vi. Publisher toll revenues shrink, Library toll savings grow?

    But if researchers do prefer to use the free online literature,
    it is possible that libraries may begin to cancel journals, and as
    their windfall toll savings grow, journal publisher tollrevenues
    will shrink. The extent of the cancellation will depend on the
    extent to which there remains a market for the toll-based add-ons,
    and for how long.

    If the toll-access market stays large enough, nothing else need

    vii. Publishers downsize to providers of peer-review service +
    optional add-ons products?

    It will depend entirely on the size of the remaining market for the
    toll-based options whether and to what extent journal publishers
    will have to down-size to providing only the essentials: The only
    essential, indispensable service is peer review.

    viii. peer-review service costs funded by author-institution out
    of reader-institution toll savings?

    If publishers can continue to cover costs and make a decent profit
    from the toll-based optional add-ons market, without needing to
    down-size to peer-review provision alone, nothing much changes.

    But if publishers do need to abandon providing the toll-based products
    and to scale down instead to providing only the peer-review service,
    then universities, having saved 100% of their annual access-toll
    budgets, will have plenty of annual windfall savings from which to
    pay for their own researchers' continuing (and essential) annual
    journal-submission peer-review costs (10-30%); the rest of their
    savings (70-90%) they can spend as they like (e.g., on books --
    plus a bit for Eprint Archive maintenance).

The above was the speculation you asked for. What follows here is
the nonspeculative part. All of this has been tried (e.g., by the
self-archiving authors listed above) and shown to work. It need only be
implemented for the remaining c. 80% of the peer-reviewed research corpus:

        4.1 Enough to free entire refereed corpus, forever, immediately:

    Eight steps will be described here. The first four are not
    hypothetical in any way; they are guaranteed to free the entire
    refereed research literature (~20K journals annually) from its
    access/impact-barriers right away. The only thing that researchers
    and their institutions need to do is to take these first four steps.
    The second four steps are hypothetical predictions, but nothing
    hinges on them: The refereed literature will already be free for
    everyone as a result of steps i-iv, irrespective of the outcome of
    predictions v-viii.

    i. Universities install and register OAI-compliant Eprint Archives

    The Eprints software is free and will be open-sourced. It in
    turn uses only free software; it is quick and easy to install and
    maintain; it is OAI-compliant and will be kept compliant with every
    OAI upgrade: Eprints Archives are
    all interoperable with one another and can hence be harvested and
    searched (e.g., as if they were all in one
    global "virtual" archive of the entire research literature, both pre-
    and post-refereeing.

    ii. Authors self-archive their pre-refereeing preprints and
    post-refereeing postprints in their own university's Eprint Archives.

    This is the most important step; it is insufficient to create
    the Eprint Archives. All researchers must self-archive their
    papers therein if the literature is to be freed of its access- and
    impact-barriers. Self-archiving is quick and easy; it need only be
    done once per paper, and the result is permanent, and permanently
    and automatically uploadable to upgrades of the Eprint Archives and
    the OAI-protocol.

    iii. Universities subsidize a first start-up wave of self-archiving
    by proxy where needed.

    Self-archiving is quick and easy, but there is no need for it to be
    held back if any researcher feels too busy, tired, old or otherwise
    unable to do it for himself: Library staff or students can be paid to
    "self-archive" the first wave of papers by proxy on their behalf. The
    cost will be negligibly low per paper, and the benefits will be huge;
    moreover, there will be no need for a second wave of help once the
    palpable benefits (access and impact) of freeing the literature
    begin to be felt by the research community. Self-archiving will
    become second-nature to all researchers as the objective digitometric
    indicators of its effects on citations and useage become available
    online (Harnad 2001e; Lawrence 2001a, 2001b) (e.g., cite-base or

    iv. The Give-Away corpus is freed from all access/impact barriers

    Once a critical mass of researchers has self-archived, the
    refereed research literature is at last free of all access- and
    impact-barriers, as it was always destined to be.

Excerpted from:

Harnad, Stevan (2001/2003) For Whom the Gate Tolls?
Published as: Harnad, Stevan (2003)
Open Access to Peer-Reviewed Research Through Author/Institution Self-Archiving:
Maximizing Research Impact by Maximizing Online Access.
In: Law, Derek & Judith Andrews, Eds. Digital Libraries: Policy Planning and
Practice. Ashgate Publishing 2003.
[Shorter version: Harnad S. (2003) Journal of Postgraduate Medicine 49: 337-342.;year=2003;volume=49;issue=4;spage=337;epage=342;aulast=Harnad]
[French version: Harnad, S. (2003) Ciélographie et ciélolexie: Anomalie
post-gutenbergienne et comment la résoudre.
In: Origgi, G. & Arikha, N. (eds) Le texte à l'heure de l'Internet.
Bibliotheque Centre Pompidou. Pp. 77-103.]

Stevan Harnad

NOTE: A complete archive of the ongoing discussion of providing open
access to the peer-reviewed research literature online (1998-2004)
is available at the American Scientist Open Access Forum:
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Unified Dual Open-Access-Provision Policy:
    BOAI-2 ("gold"): Publish your article in a suitable open-access
            journal whenever one exists.
    BOAI-1 ("green"): Otherwise, publish your article in a suitable
            toll-access journal and also self-archive it.
Received on Sat Feb 14 2004 - 20:17:09 GMT

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