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

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sat, 27 Jan 2007 15:37:31 +0000

On Thu, 25 Jan 2007, David J. Solomon,. Ph.D. wrote:

> 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.

(1) For the likely time scale, please see Arthur Sale's evidence-based
analyses of the time-course of mandated OA growth (as well as the growth
rate statistics in ROAR and their relation to presence or absence of
a mandate).

        Sale, A. The Impact of Mandatory Policies on
        ETD Acquisition. D-Lib Magazine April 2006,

        Sale, A. Comparison of content policies for institutional
        repositories in Australia. First Monday, 11(4), April 2006.

        Sale, A. The acquisition of open access research
        articles. First Monday, 11(9), October 2006.

        Sale, A. (2007) The Patchwork Mandate
        D-Lib Magazine 13 1/2 January/February

(2) What is needed is not just funder mandates, of course, but
complementary university mandates. And Provosts, Rectors, and PVCs should
not just be signing their spiritual support for funder mandates, but
signing to adopt institutional mandates at home, as more are beginning
to do (OA is just about *keystrokes*!):

> 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?

Work to deliver 100% OA? Yes. Work to drive a conversion to Gold OA? Who
knows? (But, with 100% OA, who cares?)

To see how it will work -- whether con or sin embargo -- see:

> I'm not sure. It will
> certainly put significant economic pressure on non OA publishers,

Not at all clear, and not the objective. The objective is OA. 100% OA.

> maybe not a bad thing but if they start abandoning journals it could
> be a problem.

Pre-emptive speculation about that hypothetical scenario has already
helped hold OA back for over a decade. Time to *test* the hypothesis
empirically, instead of letting it continue to block progress toward OA

    Berners-Lee, T., De Roure, D., Harnad, S. and Shadbolt, N. (2005)
    Journal publishing and author self-archiving: Peaceful Co-Existence
    and Fruitful Collaboration.

> 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.

No cost, and a negligible delay -- not 6-12-months, but the time to
cut/paste the individual requester's email address in a web box and click
to send an automatic email to the author who has deposited the paper in
embargoed access, to request an individual email copy. One click from
the author, and the email is off. (Turnaround time potentially a minute
or two, but certainly not 6-12 months.)

That will tide over "embargoes" until they die a (quick) natural death in the
OA age (where 70% of journals have already given non-embargoed self-archiving
their blessing).

> 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.

We could, and should have been self-archiving for about 15 years. I leave it
to historians to sort out why it took so long, but today, with the Green
mandates on the agenda at last, it should soon be over. (Gold is fine, as long
as it does not get in the way of immediate Green mandates by funders and

> That includes the
> details of a workable long-term model funding and publication model
> that includes more than just archiving.

But what is "That"? Surely for those desirous of OA, "that" is just OA,
100% OA, now. And that does not need a pre-emptive "workable long-term
funding and publication model": It just requires immediate self-archiving.

For those bent on speculation, the hypothetical contingencies have been
quite obvious all along:
> As you indicated in your
> earlier post it is likely we will eventually end up with an all OA
> journal system of some sort.

But that was just (reluctant) speculation. Far more important is concrete,
practical, reachable reality: 100% OA, now, via universal funder and
university OA self-archiving mandates:

> 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.

Online journal software is welcome and useful, for both OA and non-OA
publishers, and both conventional and online-only journals. And it is
being and would have been developed in any case, to exploit the obvious
efficiencies, economies and power of the online medium, irrespective of

> 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.

But all this misses the point: We have only about 15% OA now via Green,
about 10% via Gold, and they are both growing too slowly, if left to
grow spontaneously, on the basis of "volunteer effort." The obvious
benefits of OA to the research community warrant fast-forwarding OA
growth to 100%, now (indeed it is already over a decade overdue). The
fastest and surest way to do that is for funders and universities to mandate
the OA self-archiving of their own research output: to mandate Green.

Publishers (not part of the research community of researchers, universities
and funders) cannot be mandated to convert to Gold; researchers won't
welcome being told what journals to publish in; more important, they won't
welcome their already-scarce research funds being pre-emptively diverted
to paying for (Gold) publication -- until and unless the vast sums
*already* being spent on publication (via subscriptions and licenses)
are no longer being spent. Then *those* windfall savings can be used to
pay for Gold, instead of scarce research funds.

But that transition -- if it is to occur at all -- is far more likely
to occur as an aftereffect of mandated 100% Green OA rather than from
continuing to wait for it to happen spontaneously. Paying for Gold
pre-emptively now would be foolish -- and rightly resisted by the
research community. (Though, if they're foolish enough to go for paid
Gold rather than free Green, I've already announced my readiness to
retire to my tent, bemused but ready to welcome the 100% OA in whatever
hue it arrives first!)

    "The Geeks and the Irrational"

Stevan Harnad
Received on Sat Jan 27 2007 - 16:12:06 GMT

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