Re: Green OA is no threat to grants: Only Gold OA, today, might be

From: David J. Solomon,. Ph.D. <>
Date: Thu, 25 Jan 2007 16:55:52 -0500


I don't disagree with much of what you are saying and I am all for
funding agencies mandating archiving. It would certainly make OA
happen quicker but I doubt immediately and not without some cost. The
EU petition like I believe most other OA mandates have a grace period
to allow (in theory) the non-OA journals to be still able to sell
subscriptions and keep operating. Will it work? I'm not sure. It will
certainly put significant economic pressure on non OA publishers,
maybe not a bad thing but if they start abandoning journals it could
be a problem. Is there a cost involved, yes, a delay of 6 months, a
year or what ever is mandated. Is that better than spending some
research funds to pay for immediate publication in a OA journal?
Probably in most cases but it is still a very real cost.

I just think having a whole variety of green and gold models in play
isn't necessarily a bad thing at this point in time. It's been about
15 years since the Web became public and electronic publication
became practical on a large scale. We still have a ways to go in
figuring out how to use its full capability. That includes the
details of a workable long-term model funding and publication model
that includes more than just archiving. As you indicated in your
earlier post it is likely we will eventually end up with an all OA
journal system of some sort. The experimentation and development that
is going on in both the gold and green arenas is needed. Just for
example take Open Journal Systems. A superb open-source journal
management system that can dramatically reduce the cost and
efficiency of publication. Something like 500 journals are already
using it and I suspect virtually all are OA. If the entire focus of
the OAI movement was on archiving it probably wouldn't have happened.

Most of the focus on gold approach has been on author pay models. As
you correctly point out, they account for the major gold journals.
That's not to say there isn't a lot of good things happening with the
smaller OA journals that run largely on volunteer effort. They are
never going to be a major way scholarship is disseminated but in
aggregate they are publishing a lot of articles and many of them are
pretty good journals.

Dave Solomon

At 10:02 AM 1/25/2007, you wrote:
>On Thu, 25 Jan 2007, David J. Solomon,. Ph.D. wrote:
> > It is so very frustrating to see people who read and post to this
> > listserv waste time arguing over the "green" and "gold" approaches to
> > OA.
>Only one thing is more frustrating than that, and that is to see OA
>-- which is already 100% reachable, today -- continuing to be delayed,
>deferred and derailed by the *failure* to take the time to make, understand
>and apply the green/gold distinction.
>There are two ways to reach 100% OA. One (BOAI-1) is through authors
>self-archiving their published journal articles in their institutional
>repositories (Green OA) and the other (BOAI-2) is through journals
>converting to OA publishing and authors publishing in them (Gold OA).
>Both can in principle provide 100% OA. The difference is in their respective
>probability and speed of reaching 100% OA:
>Green OA is happening faster than Gold OA, but neither is happening
>anywhere near fast enough. (OA is already well over a decade overdue,
>reckoning from the time it has been reachable.)
>But Green OA can be mandated immediately, and will then generate 100%
>OA almost immediately.
>Gold OA cannot be mandated (journals cannot be forced to convert to Gold
>and authors cannot be forced to publish in Gold journals).
>What is standing in the way of Green OA mandates? The publishing lobby. The
>non-Gold publishing lobby is attempting to fight against OA in general, and
>Green OA mandates in particular. Their tactics are becoming desperate, because
>they sense that they are losing this battle:
>But Gold OA publishers are a bit of a handicap to efforts to promote Green
>OA mandates too, because they are lobbying to handicap the mandates
>with a commitment to provide funds to pay for Gold OA. As there are no
>free-floating funds available, this effectively makes it harder to get
>Green OA mandates adopted at all, because researchers are understandably
>concerned about redirecting their already-scarce research funds.
>And, most important, providing extra funds to pay for Gold OA publication
>is not necessary for OA: Green OA provides 100% OA without requiring
>a penny to be taken from research budgets. The funds to pay for Gold
>OA *do* exist, but they are currently tied up in paying non-OA journal
>subscription costs.
>Journal cancellations cannot be mandated. But they are not needed either, for
>immediate 100% OA. Nor are OA publishing funds needed, for immediate 100% OA.
>If and when 100% OA does generate a need to pay for OA publishing, because it
>generates global cancellation of non-OA subscriptions, *then* there will not
>only be a need to pay for Gold OA publishing (to which all journals
>will have to
>convert) but there will also be all the institutional cancellation
>windfall savings out of which to pay them.
>If you don't make these green/gold distinctions, you are left with the
>status quo: Only about 15% spontaneous Green OA and about 10% spontaneous
>Gold OA. Only mandates can raise this to 100% OA; only Green OA can
>be mandated (except for grant-subsidised journals); and tying Green OA
>mandates to the funding of Gold OA is not only unnecessary and premature,
>but creates resistance to the all-important adoption of Green OA mandates.
> > Each have their advantages and disadvantages and both get us to
> > the essentially the same place in this transition period where we
> > still have an economic publishing model designed for paper journals.
>Both get us there in principle -- just as redistribution of wealth would
>get us to equality in principle, whether done voluntarily or through
>taxation; but there is the practical problem of how to get there from
> > Maybe I am missing something (please correct me) but it seems almost
> > ludicrous to think author-funded OA journals, which I believe are NOT
> > the most common form of OA journals are going to seriously damage our
> > research funding system.
>Good question. The answer has two parts:
>(1) You are counting the number of Gold journals that currently charge for
>publication. About 10% of journals are Gold today, and perhaps a third of them
>charge for publication, so that's only about 3%. But there are also a growing
>number of hybrid-Gold (optional OA) journals, and if they are paid too, that
>might soon amount to all of the core journals. (And why not? If money were
>available to pay your asking price, by the article, would you not
>offer the paid
>OA option too?)
>All of this (even the 3%) is worrisome to researchers who already
>find research
>funds far too scarce.
>(2) The attempts to add funding for Gold OA as a contingency to Green OA
>mandates results in increased opposition to the adoption of those mandates,
>among others, by the researchers concerned about their research grants.
> > John Willinsky in his latest book estimated that the NIH spends
> > $60,000 US for the research that generates each article based on NIH
> > funding. He simply took the total NIH budget and divided it by the
> > number of articles published I believe for 2005. It's a little
> > simplistic but seems to me reasonable approach. The cost estimates I
> > have seen for high-end OA publishing of the type found at PLoS are in
> > the range of $3,000 US per article. Maybe its $4,000 ore $2,000 who
> > cares, it's about 5% of the cost of the research the article is based on.
>Ask researchers whether they are interested in a 5% reduction in their grants,
>or in their probability of getting a grant, in exchange for OA. But
>don't forget
>to add that they can have OA for free, via Green OA self-archiving.
>And ask them what they would be happy to see mandated. The question
>has already
>been asked about Green OA mandates alone, and over 95% of researchers say they
>would comply, over 80% of them willingly.
>But ask them how they would feel about such a mandate if it were
>coupled with a
>5% reduction of research funds.
>And don't forget to add that that 5% reduction of research funds would occur
>while expenditures for journal subscriptions continued at their
>present levels.
>Last, ask whether researchers would be happy with a Green-only
>mandate, allowing
>Gold expenses to be paid out of subscription cancellation savings, if and when
>subscriptions should ever be cancelled!
> > Research and scholarship that isn't disseminated is useless so it
> > seems quite reasonable to spend an additional 5% on disseminating it
> > and its hard to see how this is going to seriously impact on research
> > grant systems.
>Might seem reasonable to those who do not lose the 5% funding from their
>research, and to those who forget that hefty journal subscriptions are already
>paying for the publication of 90% of journals!
> > We also have a publication system in place that I think we can all
> > agree is not working very well and at the same time very expensive.
> > Whose paying for it? I think, (correct me if I am wrong) it's
> > largely funded through subscription fees paid by academic libraries.
>Correct. Note that it is not being paid for out of an extra 5% of research
> > Where do the libraries get their funding for journal
> > subscriptions? Since I live in the USA I am most familiar with the
> > system here. Federal grands and to some extend foundation grants pay
> > indirect costs to the institution that receives a grant. For federal
> > grants its in the 50% range. This is for costs you really can't or it
> > does not make sense to itemize in a grant budget. Things like lab
> > space, heat, Internet access etc. Included in that is the cost of
> > funding a research library because how can you do research without
> > access to a good library. That is not the whole story but a big part
> > of it and most of the rest of academic library funding comes from
> > various public sources.
>To the extent that research funds are already indirectly paying for
>subscriptions, we are not talking about an extra 5% now, but about the
>redirection of part of existing funding (overheads). Are you proposing that
>research funders should require institutions to cancel their existing journal
>(And if so, why? and how?)
>Surely if journals are to be pressured to convert to Gold by journal
>cancellations, it is up to the users (institutions and their researchers) to
>decide when, where, and what to cancel, why. Open Access is about *access*,
>not about forcible restructuring of the publishing industry.
>Green OA mandates, in contrast, *are* specifically about access,
>provided by and
>for researchers themselves. It can be mandated. And then (possibly), the
>100% OA generated by the mandates can in turn cause cancellation pressure and
>conversion to Gold OA -- while at the very same time generating the
>institutional cancellation savings needed to cover the OA publishing costs.
>So the arithmetic is right (there is already money enough "in the system,"
>changing hands, without poaching anything extra from research), but the
>pragmatics are wrong if you don't make the Green/Gold distinction and
>don't consider what can be mandated and what must be left to take its
>own natural course.
> > So in essence, our research grant system (at least in the USA but I
> > suspect elsewhere as well) is already paying for journals. It is just
> > doing it in an inefficient, ineffective, overly expensive way that
> > gives us lousy access, cuts off all sorts of people from the
> > literature and makes large publishers rich.
>Yes, in essence. And then the question is: How to get there from here?
>Answer: Mandate Green OA, but do not pre-emptively redirect research
>funds toward paying for Gold OA. Let Green OA take care of that on its
>own, if/when need be.
> > There is nothing wrong and plenty right with OA archiving manuscripts
> > before and/or after they are published in fee-for-access journals. I
> > really appreciate all the ground braking work Stevan Harnad has done
> > in promoting OA. There is also nothing wrong and plenty right will
> > promoting OA journals, even author paid OA though I don't believe it
> > is necessarily the best approach. I believe both are reasonable stop
> > gap mechanisms hopefully moving us forward to a rational OA economic
> > model designed for electronic publication.
>(I hope it's ground breaking rather than braking!)
>Nothing wrong with promoting OA journals (I founded one of the first
>of them --
>since suspended, alas), but first things first. The priority, is 100% OA now,
>and only Green OA self-archiving (mandates) can do that, now.
>And there is plenty wrong with redirecting the funds currently available for
>research -- even 5% of them -- toward funding Gold OA publishing at this time,
>especially if it gets in the way of getting Green OA mandates adopted.
>Stevan Harnad
Received on Sat Jan 27 2007 - 15:37:46 GMT

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