Re: How many journals sell authors Open Access by the article?

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Wed, 7 Jul 2004 18:48:21 +0100

    Open Access (OA) is extremely simple, yet it is also extremely
    easy to misunderstand: In an article in the Independent on July 7,
    "Pressure mounts on Reed to open access to science work"
    the new "open choice" policy of the second biggest scientific
    journal publisher, Springer/Kluwer, is described as increasing
    the pressure on the biggest scientific publisher, Reed/Elsevier.

    But increasing the pressure to do what, and why?

    Reed/Elsevier, like Springer/Kluwer, has already become a "green"
    publisher in response to pressure for OA from the world research
    community. Open Access means that all would-be users of a journal
    article should be able to access an online version of it for free
    webwide. The reason researchers want Open Access to their findings
    is research impact: They no longer want any researcher to be unable
    to use and build upon their work because their institution does not
    happen to be able to afford the access-tolls for the journal in which
    it is published. OA maximises research progress and productivity,
    and both Springer/Kluwer and Reed/Elsevier have recognised this by
    giving their authors the "green light" to self-archive their articles,
    free for all, on their institution's website.

    There is something more that both publishers could have done for the
    sake of OA, but it must be stated that this further step is not
    a necessary one, in order for research to enjoy 100% OA and its
    benefits immediately. Becoming green is as much as a publisher need
    do to confirm its support for OA and to maximise the research impact of
    its articles; but the publisher could also become "gold": it could
    convert to OA publishing, in which it is not the user-institution
    that pays the publication costs per journal subscribed to but the
    author-institution that pays, per article published.

    Out of the 24,000 journals published today, about 5% are gold,
    80% are green, and 15% are "gray" (i.e., they have not yet
    given their green light to author self-archiving).

    Becoming gold entails some risk: because it is new, because it is
    not yet tested whether the cost-recovery model will work in the
    long-term, and because institutional funds are still 95% tied up
    in the subscription costs for the green and gray journals. There
    may eventually be a transition to gold; Springer/Kluwer's "open
    choice" policy is intended to offer authors and their institutions the
    choice now: Authors can either pay the publisher $3000 to make their
    articles OA for them, or they can make their articles OA themselves,
    by self-archiving them. (Gold journals charge the author-institution
    between $500 and $1500 per article.)

    So the only difference is that Springer/Kluwer offers authors
    the choice of paying for OA and Reed/Elsevier does not. Reed may
    eventually offer this choice too (not because of pressure, but to
    provide more options); there is, however, certainly no need for
    authors who desire the benefits of OA right now to wait until they
    can pay their publishers to provide it for them. They can already
    do it themselves, with a few keystrokes, for free, today.

Stevan Harnad
Les Carr
Steve Hitchcock

If you have adopted or plan to adopt an institutional policy of providing
Open Access to your own research article output, please describe your
policy at:

    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.

A complete Hypermail archive of the ongoing discussion of providing
open access to the peer-reviewed research literature online (1998-2004)
is available at:
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Received on Wed Jul 07 2004 - 18:48:21 BST

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