Re: Elsevier Gives Authors Green Light for Open Access Self-Archiving

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Wed, 28 Jul 2004 21:37:15 +0100

On Wed, 28 Jul 2004, [identity deleted] wrote:

> I've been watching the [OA] debates with interest and am slowly
> shifting the stance of both our publisher... and the owners of
> the Journal [that I edit] on the area of copyright and open access.
> I'd welcome a discussion on the way I'm taking things with the journal.
> ...
> ...I am now in a position to send all authors PDFs which I pre-clear
> for personal distribution and storage in (non-web) institutional
> repositories. There is still some resistance from the publishers... to
> the idea of mounting these PDFs on-line as they believe (wrongly I think)
> that it would deprive them of significant revenue streams from pay-as-
> -you-go access.

What do you mean by "(non-web) institutional repositories"? If you mean
that authors cannot store their article publicly on the web, but can send
out email versions of their article to online reprint-requesters, then
that is not much progress and it is not OA. Moreover, logically and
practically, it is not a very coherent notion:

For if I am given the journal's green light to store a copy of my
article's full-text online in a non-publicly-accessible location, as well
as to email it to anyone who requests a reprint, then all I have to do
is put my article's metadata (author, title, journal, year, etc.) online
on the web, publicly (which I can do in any case, without a green light
from anyone); then I can link an automatic piece of software to the
metadata's URL, such that, if anyone presses the "request this as a
reprint" button, a pop-up asks for the reprint-requester's email address
and then sends a piece of code to yet another piece of software, which
in turn retrieves the full-text from the non-public site where it is
stored and emails it to the reprint-requester's email address immediately.

So, in exchange for a few seconds delay and a piece of awkward,
Rube-Goldberg software, the author can provide exactly the same outcome
as if your journal had simply given the author the green light to
self-archive the article publicly on the web, allowing the reprint
requester to download it directly, without the superfluous loop! (The PDF
is not critical: A green light to self-archive the final, peer-reviewed
draft -- the "postprint" -- would be quite sifficient.)

So, may I suggest that you reconsider this needless baroque constraint,
and simply join the 84% of journals that are already green on OA

There are physics journals that have been effectively green since 1991,
and some of their contents have long been 100% OA through self-archiving
for years now, yet their subscription revenues have not dried up.
One physics journal (JHEP), born gold (subsidised), even converted back
to green, successfully, by migrating to a green publisher (IOP).

    "JHEP will convert from toll-free-access to toll-based access"

It is converting from gray to *gold* that is a potential risk to
cost-recovery at this time; the risk from converting from gray to
green is minimal. Moreover, it is looking more and more likely that
self-archiving will soon be mandated by research funders as well as by
universities. So your journal can position itself on the side of the
angels (green) voluntarily now, or wait till it starts feeling author
pressure because of the mandate (which will put the 14% gray journals
at risk of otherwise losing authors), and then go green only because it
was forced by author pressure.

I think it would be both more positive and progressive, historically --
and better PR, right now, in light of the research community's mounting
demand for OA -- to go green voluntarily at this time. The benefits
of enhanced impact, after all, are then shared by both the
author-institution and the journal!

    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

    Harnad, S., Brody, T., Vallieres, F., Carr, L., Hitchcock, S.,
    Gingras, Y, Oppenheim, C., Stamerjohanns, H., & Hilf, E. (2004)
    The green and the gold roads to Open Access. Nature Web Focus.

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
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Received on Wed Jul 28 2004 - 21:37:15 BST

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