Green Party Green on Gold but not on Green

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sat, 10 Sep 2005 12:24:52 +0100

In their press release
the UK Green Party announces that it will vote (among other things) to
"require Open Access [OA] publishing for publicly-funded academies."

Since one cannot impose a business model, but only encourage it, and try to
create conditions favorable to it, this vote to *require* OA publishing (the
"golden" road to OA) is at best only a symbolic token and at worst quixotic.

It is also ironic that the Green party makes no mention of support for
the "green" road to OA, which is OA self-archiving, by their own authors,
of all articles published in non-OA (and OA) journals. This, unlike OA
publishing itself, (1) *can* be required, (2) has been recommended as a
UK policy by the UK Select Committee on Science and Technology (but not
implemented by the government), (3) is now the proposed policy of the UK
research funding councils, RCUK (Research Councils UK), with a projected
implementation date of October 2005 if adopted, (4) would result
in 100% OA for all UK research output, and (5) would serve as a model for
the greening of the rest of the research world, as advocated by (6) the
Berlin Declaration on Open Access and the Budapest Open Access Initiative.

The publisher lobby (ALPSP and STM) is arguing for further delay in
implementing this "green" policy on the grounds that (i) it may damage
their revenues and (ii) it is an attempt to impose a change in business
model on them. All objective evidence is contrary to (i); and (ii) is
incorrect (gold is a business model, for publishers; green is merely a
condition on receiving funding, for researchers).

Over 90% of journals are already green on author self-archiving; it is
the *authors* who are the OA retardant, not the publishers: only 15% of
authors have so far bothered to go even though the light is green. That
is what the RCUK green policy is intended to remedy. It would be both
foolish and churlish to try instead to force the *journals* to take that
further step on behalf of the sluggish authors, by going gold, with all
the risk and sacrifice accruing to the publishers and all the benefits
accruing to the authors.

The Green Party should be voting to "require OA self-archiving for
[authors employed by] publicly-funded academies" -- an implementable
green policy that will swiftly and certainly generate 100% OA -- rather
than tilting (out of "gold fever") at imposed business models that will
only lead to years more of delay and needless wrangling, meanwhile failing
to achieve the desired and reachable immediate result.

Stevan Harnad
Received on Sat Sep 10 2005 - 12:40:15 BST

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