New Self-Archiving FAQ: 32: Poisoned Apple

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sun, 1 Aug 2004 03:16:53 +0100

The following "Poisoned Apple" FAQ has been added to the Self-Archiving

32. Poisoned Apple

        "I worry about self-archiving even if the journal gives me the
        green light to do so, because if I do, the light may change
        to red."

Eighty-four percent of journals have already given their green light
to author self-archiving -- -- for
at least six reasons. Here are those 6 reasons, in approximate order
of priority:

    (1) OA is Optimal and Inevitable. Open Access (OA) is clearly on the
    way. Its benefits to research and researchers -- in terms of enhanced
    research usage and impact -- are demonstrated and undeniable.
    Its progress is unstoppable. Going green is a natural way for
    research journal publishers to support OA and demonstrate that they
    are not in conflict with what is in the best interests of research and
    researchers. Opposing OA today is becoming increasingly bad public
    relations for journal publishers.

    (2) Green is a Hedge Against Gold. At the same time, the risks of
    converting to OA journal publishing ("gold") are still considerable:
    The OA cost-recovery model has not yet been tested long, and only
    by about 5% of journals: Hence going green is
    a rational hedge against pressure to go gold: "If authors want OA
    so badly, let them show it by providing it for themselves, with our
    green light, rather than pressuring us to make all the sacrifices,
    and take all the risk upon ourselves."

    (3) The Risk of Going Green is Low: There are physics journals that
    have been effectively green since 1991, and some of their contents
    have been 100% OA through self-archiving for years now, yet their
    subscription revenues have not eroded. The American Physical Society
    (APS) was the first green publisher. One physics journal (JHEP),
    born gold (subsidised), even converted back to green, successfully,
    by migrating to a green publisher (IOP) .

    (4) If/When It Ever Came To That, Green Would Allow Publishers
    a Gradual Leveraged Transition to Gold. OA growth by author
    self-archiving is gradual and anarchic, article by article, rather
    than journal by journal. It gives journal publishers time to adapt to
    OA. If and when there should ever be a transition to gold, a prior
    green preparatory phase will allow this to be a stable leveraged
    transition rather than an abrupt and catastrophic one.

    (5) OA Enhances Journal Impact Too. Enhanced impact not only benefits
    reasearch, as well as authors and their careers, but it benefits
    journals too, as the journal impact factor (which helps sell journals)
    is the average of its articles' impact.

    (6) Research Institutions and Funders Will Soon Be Mandating
    Self-Archiving. The US House Appropriations Committee and the UK
    Parliament Science and Technology Committee have both recommended
    that self-archiving be mandatory for funded research. As this mandate
    is implemented, it will produce pressure for journals to go green,
    or risk losing their authors. It accordingly makes more sense to
    anticipate this mandate by going green now.

In the light of these 6 reasons for publishers to go green now, it is
hard to imagine why anyone would think that authors taking publishers up
on their green light today, by going ahead and self-archiving -- thereby
generating still more OA, and still more demand for and reliance upon OA
-- would make it easier rather than harder for any journal not to be
green than it is today, when 84% are already green. On the contrary,
authors failing to go ahead and self-archive even though the publisher's
light is green would give opponents of OA strong grounds for concluding
that the research community does not need or want OA as much as it
purports to do, and hence there is no real call for either green or

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)
is available at:
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Received on Sun Aug 01 2004 - 03:16:53 BST

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