Re: The Green and Gold Roads to Open Access

From: Brian Simboli <>
Date: Thu, 7 Oct 2004 12:38:10 +0100

I really do think there is an argument abroad that green self-archiving is
worth engaging in because it will give experience in developing repositories,
providing access, etc.

But: why not cut to the chase? Why stumble over some pocket change en route to
picking up the one thousand dollar bill that lies ahead on the sidewalk? Why
not directly engage in infrastructural initiatives that will concurrently
resolve access, affordability, preservation, and any number of other interwoven

If we librarians are to spend 5 or at 10 % of our valuable "free time" on an
interesting project, imho it should be on promoting academic gold (whether
institutionally subsidized or author pays, though I'm skeptical about the
viability of the latter), and academically owned low-cost solutions, not self-
archiving. Academic ownership of publishing is key; only then will the
publishing monoliths be challenged.

I will qualify my remarks somewhat. Perhaps, if it can be proved that green
self-archiving is a very easy by-product of experience gained in promoting the
afore-mentioned infrastructure, then librarians *may* want to spend *some* time
providing it for faculty, if it does not significantly detract from attending
to infrastructural, long lasting and stable solutions. However, I'm hard-
pressed to find reason to do so, given the opportunity cost it would incur on
pursuing a more viable infrastructure. It could well just be a time-draining

Green remains, at best a secondary and ancillary goal, given that the goal of
100 per cent green, imho, will not be achieved, as argued elsewhere. Nor should
it be pursued very vigorously by librarians, since it plays into the hands of
commercial publisher "largesse" that can be pulled at any time when it becomes
anything remotely approaching a threat to them.

Incidentally, consider that those researchers who have tenure, and even some
portion of those busy ones who do not, will not be sufficiently swayed about
arguments concerning impact of research to find the motivation to green self-
archive. For many scientists, an impending tenure decision supplies the
animus that guides their initially feverish interest in publishing. Assuming
they make the grade, some portion continue feverishly, but some large portion
look forward to a bit of administrative work, refining their teaching, a
glass of wine at the end of the day while watching Jim Lehrer, or playing with
their grandchildren. Impact of research remains for them a concern, but
whatever marginal benefits in terms of research impact that might accrue will
not sufficiently motivate them to self-archive. They're happy if the small
circle of workers in their niche see their work--and they will, one way or
another. (This would be an interesting study: how many scientists use email
attachments to forward their research around to the small circle of people in
their niche, regardless of copyrigh provisions.)

And there is this significant datum: *some* researchers are interested in the
reform of publishing and access. Most, however, at least in the first world,
grouse to their librarians when they cannot get to an unsubscribed title, but
go ahead and submit an interlibrary request to achieve delayed access.
Provision of rush services by ILL dept's are worth studying in this context.

In any event, researchers for the most part do not regard it as their job to
improve provision immediate access. They complain that they cannot get the
goods immediately, but much of their involvement ends in just that--complaining.
By the way, it is puzzling why ILL has so much dropped out of discussions of
access; it works quite well around here, despite delays. I recognize that ILL
in the third world is surely highly problematic, given that its success relies
on a stock of publications held by at least one participating institution. But
it does not follow that green self-archiving will provide a viable solution to

Enough said.

Brian Simboli
Received on Thu Oct 07 2004 - 12:38:10 BST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:47:37 GMT