Re: The Green and Gold Roads to Open Access

From: Heather Morrison <>
Date: Thu, 7 Oct 2004 22:37:38 +0100

First, I would like to thank Brian for his comments, and note that I
wholeheartedly agree with almost all of them.

One area where we have a difference of opinion is whether the question
is to pursue the green or the gold road. I agree with Brian that the
best solution for providing access, particularly in the long term, is
the gold road.

However, there are other reasons for simultaneously pursuing the green
road, imho, which are:

The IR approach will provide access to the literature which is
published TA, both current and past. Gold publishing will not free up
access to the previously published literature.

There are other reasons for developing institutional repositories
besides access to peer-reviewed articles, for example a secure home for
faculty powerpoints at conferences, and student papers. The IR could
be used for datasets and other purposes too.

Preservation and archiving under the LOCKSS (lots of copies keep stuff
safe) principle - even the article published in a gold journal, and
copied to a central repostiroy, is more secure if a copy is archived
in the university's IR as well.

The IR provides access to the work of the university's own faculty,
which may presently be denied. For example, of the 4 first articles
submitted to the SFU Library Community D-space, half were published in
journals that SFU Library does not subscribe to. These are not
expensive journals - it's just that no university can afford to
subscribe to all the journals.

The IR in future will provide a collection of the university's work,
which will serve as a different kind of information resource.
Prospective students will be able to easily assess the research
interests of faculty; local journalists will be able to find potential
stories along with local experts they might be able to interview in

The IR as collection of the university's own work will also serve as a
valuable promotional tool for the university per se - both at the
individual institutional level, and at the global level. People -
whether politicians, the public at large, potential donors - will have
a tool that lets them see the valuable contributions that universities
in general, and/or a university in particular, make to the world.

One other small difference of opinion: I agree with Brian that access
is much better in North America than it is in the third world.
However, I believe that there are limitations to access to be addressed
here in the world's wealthiest countries too. ILL is one example.
Typically, a research-based university will provide free ILL to
students and faculty. Education-based universities often either do not
provide free ILL, or place limitations on the number of requests, for
financial reasons. Public libraries in many areas do not subsidize ILL
at all. Open access copies will improve access at all these libraries.
  Even when your library does provide free ILL, the self-archived copy
can mean the difference between immediate access and a delay.

To summarize my position: IMHO, we should vigorously, and
simultaneously, pursue both the green and the gold roads. Restricted
access is problematic everywhere, although most notably so in poorer


Heather Morrison

On 7-Oct-04, at 4:38 AM, Brian Simboli wrote:

> 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
> issues?
> 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
> impediment.
> 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
> this.
> Enough said.
> Brian Simboli
Heather G. Morrison
Project Coordinator
BC Electronic Library Network
Phone: 604-268-7001
Fax: 604-291-3023
Received on Thu Oct 07 2004 - 22:37:38 BST

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