The UK report, press coverage, and the Green and Gold Roads to Open Access

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sat, 24 Jul 2004 14:52:39 +0100

    Prior Topic Threads:
    "The Green and Gold Roads to Open Access"

    "The Green Road to Open Access: A Leveraged Transition"

    "UK Select Committee Inquiry into Scientific Publication"

On Sat, 24 Jul 2004, [identity deleted] wrote:

> I've just had the [newspaper name deleted] onto me
> to write a piece on the House of Commons report but they wanted it tied,
> because of their readership, to multinational publishers profits on the
> one hand but didn't want to put in the Elsevier self-archiving as this
> was too esoteric.

Thank you for your message. It is extremely important to get both
the press coverage of the UK Committee outcome and the wording of the
self-archiving policy proposal right. Here are some comments:

There is a way to satisfy the press's simplistic and sensationalistic
preferences while still conveying what is true and useful about the UK
report, rather than heading off instead into fantasy -- incoherent fantasy
-- that is not based on the actual concrete outcome of the UK report at
all, and unrelated to what will actually generate OA. The "green/gold"
colour codes I've been promoting are specifically intended to make this
clearer, easier to understand, and easier to remember and explain.

What should be said to the press to explain both UK Committee outcome
and the OA itself is this:

The UK Select Committee report clearly recognises that there are 2 roads
to OA (Open Access), "green" and "gold":

    (GOLD) The "golden" road to OA is for authors to publish their
    articles in OA journals. OA journals cover their costs from
    author-institution publication charges instead of from institutional
    subscription tolls, and in exchange these journals make all their
    articles OA.

    (GREEN) The "green" road to OA is for authors to make their
    own articles OA by self-archiving all of them in their own
    institutional OA archives, whether they are published in
    OA or non-OA journals.

The important thing to understand is that only about 5% of journals are
gold, so the only OA option today for articles in the remaining 95% of
journals is author-institution self-archiving (green).

Moreover, 84% of journals are already officially green, having already
given their official "green light" to author-institution self-archiving
and the number of green journals is rapidly rising to 100% because of
the growing evidence of the dramatic benefits of OA for research and
researchers: Maximizing research access maximizes research impact:

    Harnad, S. & Brody, T. (2004) Comparing the Impact of Open Access
    (OA) vs. Non-OA Articles in the Same Journals, D-Lib Magazine 10
    (6) June

Hence the only thing standing between today's 10-20% OA and 100% OA is
the fact that institutions and research funders have not yet mandated
that all their research articles must be made OA. (*Publishing* them
has long been mandated ["publish or perish"], but self-archiving them
has not yet been.)

The UK Select Committee's most important and concrete recommendation is
accordingly that self-archiving of UK-funded research -- the green road
to OA -- should be mandated:

There are additional recommendations too -- that the golden road to OA
should be encouraged where possible, and further studied, and that
the costs of publishing in gold OA journal should be funded where
needed -- but the main recommendation is green: Mandate author-institution
self-archiving of all UK-funded research-article output, thereby providing
immediate OA to all of it.

(The US House of Representatives has made a very similar recommendation:
to mandate the self-archiving of all NIH-funded research.)

Now that the recommendation to mandate OA self-archiving has been made,
institutions need to commit themselves to implementing the mandate:

Once they have done that, a JISC survey (Swan & Brown 2004):
has already reported that when authors were asked:

    " they would feel if their employer or funding body required
    them to deposit copies of their published articles in... [OA
    archives]. The vast majority... said they would do so willingly..."

So 100% OA simply awaits the implementation of the UK Select Committee's
recommendation to mandate taking the green road to OA.

    Swan, A. & Brown, S.N. (2004) JISC/OSI Journal Authors Survey

    Swan, A. & Brown, S.N. (2004) Authors and open access
    publishing. Learned Publishing 2004:17(3) 219-224.

> When I showed the [institutional self-archiving policy implementation]
> sign-up to a couple of people in the [deleted] they weren't happy with
> some of the wording and so probably needed to modify

The wording is meant to be flexible, with Institutions and Research
Funders able to modify it for their own specific needs:

Could you let me know what wording changes the [universities]
had in mind? See both:

> Now, I am trying to meet with our government to get some funding...
> particularly getting the academics to deposit in IRs

But getting academics to self-archive is not mainly a matter of funding
(of either archives or anything else) but of policy. What funding are
you referring to (and funding for what)?

> I too think it is unfortunate that the Elsevier is tied to the OA but
> it is difficult.

This is one of the reasons the two distinct problems -- access/impact
and journal pricing -- need to be clearly and consciously
disentangled. Elsevier is overpriced, which is bad for the pricing
problem, but it has given the green light to author self-archiving,
which is good for the access problem. If the two different problems are
conflated, Elsevier is berated for its price instead of being lauded
for its self-archiving policy, killing one bird with the stone meant
for the other.

Elsevier should be lauded for going green, and authors should
be encouraged to take them up on their green light, rather than the
extremely misguided and counterproductive nonsense that some are instead
propagating today, to the effect that Elsevier's green policy is just
a poisoned apple, don't bite!

This is the perfect example of the conflation of the two distinct
problems (access and price) and the poisoning of the remedy for one,
by insisting that it must either solve both problems or none!

Stevan Harnad

UNIVERSITIES: 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)
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Received on Sat Jul 24 2004 - 14:52:39 BST

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