Re: The Green and Gold Roads to Open Access

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 13 Dec 2005 13:17:37 +0000

    Prior Amsci Subject Thread:
    The Green and Gold Roads to Open Access (began Nov 2003)

On Mon, 12 Dec 2005, Ann Okerson wrote that Charles Schwartz wrote:

> November/December issue of College & Research
> Libraries: Prospects for open access

> The goal of open access is to make academic research available free
> through online journals, an approach that would overturn the traditional
> subscriber-based business model of printed journals.

This is simply incorrect, no matter how often Charles Schwartz or anyone
else somnambulistically repeats it. The goal of open access is open
access (OA). OA is not OA publishing (gold). OA publishing is merely
one of the two ways to reach 100% OA. There is also OA self-archiving
(green) of articles published in non-OA journals.

> Supporters of open
> access say the research, often financed with taxpayer dollars, should be
> made freely available instead of helping pad the bottom line of the
> publishing companies and scholarly societies that produce the journals.

Supporters of OA say the research should be made OA, period. Those
who demand more are demanding more than just OA.

> Critics say open access is based on an economically unfeasible business
> model that will damage the societies, hurt peer review, and undermine the
> research enterprise.

Critics are talking about the OA publishing model, not OA.

> Mr. Schwartz says that open access will restructure academe...

Mr. Schwartz is speculating about OA publishing, not OA.

> There will not
> be one, climactic tipping point. Rather, he says, cost-effective
> open-access business models will develop, discipline by discipline.
> ... disciplines... have their own logics...

100% OA can and will be reached before any major shift to OA publishing,
and no one (no one) knows whether (and if so when) 100% OA will be followed
by a transition to OA publishing. One can speculate with Mr. Schwartz that *if*
there were ever a transition after 100% OA to OA publishing, that transition
would be gradual, and preceded by journal cost-cutting. (No reason to expect
journals to convert cost-recovery on the basis of "discipline logic.")

> ...."The open-access movement
> will progress the way other innovations do in a loosely coupled system, on
> the strength of weak ties: the diffusion and eventual aggregation of
> professional communities' best practices."

The OA movement is not just, or primarily, the OA publishing movement
(gold); it is also the OA self-archiving movement (green) which,
having demonstrated OA self-archiving's benefits to research
access and impact, and having already been given the green light by 93%
of journals, is now in the process of making self-archiving a requirement,
alongside "publish or perish." The policy of requiring immediate OA
self-archiving has already been adopted by four universities plus CERN It is on the verge
of being adopted by the UK research funding councils, and has been
half-adopted by the Wellcome Trust (6-month delay) and CURES (4-month
delay); NIH (12-month delay) is moving from a request to a requirement
(and, one hopes, no delay).

> The article, "Reassessing Prospects for the Open Access Movement," is
> available to subscribers at

Nonsubscribers will have to wait to see whether Mr. Schwartz elects to
self-archive it.

It would be a good idea if, in addition to reading Mr. Schwartz's article,
those with a serious interest in what is going on and why, look at what is
actually going on, and particularly along the green road...

PS: For another thoroughly out-of-date, off-the-mark article (but one that is
at least openly accessible), see:

     The Shift Away From Print
     Eileen Gifford Fenton and Roger C. Schonfeld
     Inside Higher Ed

This article is so out of date that I wouldn't know where to begin to
comment on it. Online is already here, for virtually all journals. How
long we will want to keep paying for the print run is anyone's guess,
but who cares. What matters is OA (i.e., free online access), but the
authors are positively paleolithic: It would be a chore to get them
to even twig on the 17th century, let alone the 21st... (The intrepid
Chris Green, however, has had a go: See his comment.)

Stevan Harnad

A complete Hypermail archive of the ongoing discussion of providing
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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-1 ("green"): Publish your article in a suitable toll-access journal
    BOAI-2 ("gold"): Publish your article in a open-access journal if/when
            a suitable one exists.
    in BOTH cases self-archive a supplementary version of your article
            in your institutional repository.
Received on Tue Dec 13 2005 - 13:32:24 GMT

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