Reply to Harnad: Is the Access Spectrum a Red Herring or Are Green and Gold Too Black and White?

From: Charles W. Bailey, Jr. <cbailey_at_UH.EDU>
Date: Mon, 16 May 2005 10:11:35 -0500

Stevan Harnad has commented extensively on my "The Spectrum
of E-Journal Access Policies: Open to Restricted Access"
DigitalKoans posting. Thanks for doing so, Stevan. Here are
my thoughts on your comments.

First, let me concede that if you look at this question from
Stevan’s particular open-access-centric point of view that,
of course, the spectrum of publisher access policies is a
complete and utter waste of time. I don’t recall suggesting
that this was a new open access model per se, even though it
includes open access in it as a component and it makes some
further distinctions between open access and free access
journals. Rather, it is what it says it is: a model that
presents a range of publisher access policies from the least
restrictive to the most restrictive. The color codes merely
enhance the model slightly, they are not central to it (and,
of course, as Steven says, he created this color coding
Frankenstein to begin with). The model says nothing about

That said, Steven’s view that open access equals free access
(period) is not, as he well knows, universal, and his green
and gold models are based on this premise.

Here is how Peter Suber defines OA in "Open Access Overview:
Focusing on Open Access to Peer-Reviewed Research Articles
and Their Preprints":

        * OA should be immediate, rather than delayed, and
OA should apply to the full-text, not just to abstracts or
        * OA removes price barriers (subscriptions,
licensing fees, pay-per-view fees) and permission barriers
(most copyright and licensing restrictions).
        * There is some flexibility about which permission
barriers to remove. For example, some OA providers permit
commercial re-use and some do not. Some permit derivative
works and some do not. But all of the major public
definitions of OA agree that merely removing price barriers,
or limiting permissible uses to "fair use" ("fair dealing"
in the UK), is not enough.
        * Here’s how the Budapest Open Access Initiative put
it: "There are many degrees and kinds of wider and easier
access to this literature. By ‘open access’ to this
literature, we mean its free availability on the public
internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy,
distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of
these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data
to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose,
without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than
those inseparable from gaining access to the internet
itself. The only constraint on reproduction and
distribution, and the only role for copyright in this
domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity
of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and
        * Here’s how the Bethesda and Berlin statements put
it: "For a work to be OA, the copyright holder must consent
in advance to let users ‘copy, use, distribute, transmit and
display the work publicly and to make and distribute
derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible
purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship….’"
        * The Budapest (February 2002), Bethesda (June
2003), and Berlin (October 2003) definitions of "open
access" are the most central and influential for the OA
movement. Sometimes I call refer to them collectively, or to
their common ground, as the BBB definition.

So, by most OA definitions, a journal that "makes all of its
articles immediately and permanently accessible to all
would-be users webwide toll-free" is not OA unless it also
uses a Creative Commons or similar license that permits use
with minimal restrictions. It is FA (Free Access). As I have
said in an earlier dialog, we can count on no journal to be
"permanently accessible" unless some trusted archive other
than the publisher makes it so, an issue that Steven
apparently disagrees with, believing that publishers never
go out of business.

I note that Steven has deviated from his "chrononomic
parsimony" principle by having both "Green" and
"Pale-Green," in his model and then lumping them both
together in his discussions as "GREEN." (In his Summary
Statistics So Far site he also introduces the color Grey,
for "neither yet.") If preprints and postprints are of equal
value, why not just code them Green? If they are not of
equal value (i.e., postprints that accurately incorporate
the changes that occur during the peer-review process are
the only real substitute for the published article), then,
in reality, those 15.5% of "Pale-Green" journals are of
limited value in terms of self-archiving, and the real GREEN
journal number is 76.2%, not 92%.

I must admit to some confusion on his latest stand that all
types of self-archiving are equal. In "Ten Years After," he
seems to be expressing a different sentiment regarding
author home pages:

    That said, there was a naive element to the Subversive
Proposal, too, since Harnad’s plan would have led to
researchers posting their papers on thousands of isolated
FTP sites. This would have meant that anyone wanting to
access the papers would have needed prior knowledge of the
papers’ existence and the whereabouts of every relevant
archive. They would then have had to search each archive
separately. Today, Harnad concedes that "anonymous FTP sites
and arbitrary Web sites are more like common graves, insofar
as searching is concerned."

Perhaps I misunderstand what is meant by "arbitrary Web

As the prior DigitalKoans dialog beginning with "How Green
Is My Publisher?" shows, we clearly disagree on many points
related to the importance of author copyright agreements
(e.g., they have to permit deposit in disciplinary
archives), the importance of deposit in OAI-PMH-compliant
archives, and the mission and scope of institutional

A series of DigitalKoans postings that start with "The View
from the IR Trenches, Part 1" provides numerous quotes from
the literature that bolster my case.

Second, while I admire Stevan’s unflagging advocacy of open
access (by which he really means free access), open access
is not the only issue in the e-journal publishing world that
is of concern to librarians to whom this missive was mainly
addressed. This is because librarians, while hopefully
working to build a better future, have to deal with the
messy existing realities of the e-publishing environment to
do their jobs and to make decisions about how to allocate
scarce resources. Consequently, librarians have to scan the
e-publishing environment, analyze it, categorize it, and
make evaluative judgements about it. They have to make
models of e-publishing reality to better understand it. They
don’t have the luxury of only dreaming about what that
reality should be.

Thus, while Steven is indifferent to many of those 894,302
free full-text articles from 857 HighWire-hosted journals (a
number which likely dwarfs all articles available from
OA/free journals), librarians are not. Paying attention to
them is important. While many are not immediately free, they
are free nonetheless after some embargo period. And EA
(Embargoed Access) journals are better than RA (Restricted
Access) journals in practical terms for users who have no
other current access. And even limited access to more
restrictive PA (Partial Access) journals is likely to be
welcomed by users who today would have no access otherwise.
I know that both kinds of access are welcomed by me as a

This is not to say that we shouldn’t strive for journals to
move up the spectrum from red to green, but it is to say
that: (1) some free access is better than no free access for
journals that will never move further up the spectrum, and
(2) it may be that some journals have to move step-by-step,
not in one leap, for the change to take place, and, if they
start higher, it may be easier to encourage them to move
further and faster. (But we have to know which ones have
this potential based on their current status.)

Steven’s model has colors, but, in reality, each color is
black and white: Gold and nothing, GREEN and grey. All or
nothing. And, as long as you accept his premises, it works,
and it allows him to focus on his free-access goal with
single minded determination, undistracted by the knotted
complexities of the e-scholarly publishing environment. Long
may he run.

For those who have a different view of OA or who have
broader concerns, it’s too "black and white."

I give him the last word on this matter.

Best Regards,

Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Assistant Dean for Digital Library
Planning and Development, University of Houston,
Library Administration, 114 University Libraries,
Houston, TX 77204-2000. E-mail:
Voice: (713) 743-9804. Fax: (713) 743-9811.
Open Access Bibliography:
Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography:
Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog:
Received on Mon May 16 2005 - 16:11:35 BST

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