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

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sat, 27 Jan 2007 16:11:40 +0000

On Fri, 26 Jan 2007, Prof. Tom Wilson wrote:

> The whole debate about Green vs. Gold seems to be posited on the assumption that
> Gold = author payment OA. In fact author payment is only one model of Gold, the
> other is collaborative, subsidised funding, which is rarely considered in
> either the general debate on the subject or in economic modelling.

The debate of Green vs. Gold is not posited on funding details at all; it is
posited exclusively on the feasibility, probability and immediacy of the two
ways of reaching 100% OA. Green can (and, one hopes, will) be mandated by
funders and universities now. That is why it is the road we should all be
taking, now, full speed.

But for some reason, many (but mostly not researchers) prefer to speculate
instead about hypothetical models of publication funding.

> In fact as Mark McCabe pointed out, in response to a question from me, at the
> Lund conference last year, the subsidised funding model provides the greatest
> social benefit of all economic models for scholarly publishing - he, too, had
> failed to consider this model in his presentation, assuming that OA meant
> author payment.

What research needs, and has within its immediate reach, is 100% OA, via Green
OA mandates. The urgent need is for *access*, not for funding models!

> I fully support author archiving under the Green model - but, as Professor
> Harnad has noted, it moves slowly (see

I said it moves too slowly when it is left to move spontaneously. But the
movement now is to *mandate* it, and then it no longer moves slowly! (Read
Arthur Sale.)

        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

> In my opinion, this is
> because it demands a change in behaviour - authors submit papers to journals,
> libraries archive those journals (and, of course, increasingly, not libraries
> but publishers) and it is an additional task.

Well, yes, it requires a change in behaviour. (So does publishing in an OA
journal, by the way, and so does converting to the Gold OA publishing model!)

But the only behaviour Green OA (and Green OA mandates) require a change in
is *keystrokes*: digital inertia. The mandates are merely to get those fingers
moving. The intrinsic research rewards of OA will take care of the rest.

    Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2005) Keystroke Economy: A Study of the
    Time and Effort Involved in Self-Archiving

> Shifting the publication model
> (where possible - since I acknowledge that fields with journals involving
> hundreds of submissions a year might find the shift difficult) to one based on
> collaboration and subsidy would provide authors with a framework that did not
> require author archiving and would require no behavioural change.

Yes, yes. But until we get all that sorted out, can we just go ahead and
mandate the keystrokes?

> Such a strategy is fully possible today: the OJS journal management system
> (according to its Website) is used by 800 journals - the majority of which are
> fully OA and the collaborative model is used by a number of these. However, no
> one, so far, has championed this model to the extent that Prof. Harnad has
> championed the Green model.

My championing of the "Green model" -- not a model at all, actually, but
merely a Keystroke Strategy! -- has been as futile as the creation of
Archives (like CogPrints) for authors to deposit in, or OAI-compliant software
(like EPrints) for creating and filling Institutional Repositories: It's not
about creating archives or software. It's about mandating the keystrokes!

> To a degree, that championing has been
> counter-productive for a shift to an economic model of the kind sought by David
> Solomon, since institutions can point to the author archiving model as a reason
> for NOT supporting collaborative, subsidised journals.

But Tom, what is our goal? OA or funding models for publication? Green
OA is for 100% OA, now. If it proves productive for that, how can it be
said to be "counterproductive"? On the contrary, it is the premature,
pre-emptive advocacy of Gold OA that has been (slightly) counterproductive
for OA, in creating yet another obstacle to the rapid (and already long
overdue implementation of Green OA mandates. (But, in all fairness,
the main obstacles to Green OA have been research community ignorance,
misunderstandings and inertia, now at last subsiding, plus publisher
opposition, vocal but unconvincing, hence doomed to be over-ridden by
the research community once it came to an understanding of OA.)

> It's time to put the Green vs. Gold debate aside, I think, and concentrate on
> the real challenge of author payment vs. subsidy - a victory for subsidy will
> give us all a true OA structure for scholarly communication.

Not at all. And if we indeed took this to be the real challenge -- rather than
simply reaching for the (Green) OA that is already fully within our reach --
then that would again contribute to the problem instead of the solution. The
problem being (to repeat), OA, now, not publication funding models!

Stevan Harnad
Received on Sat Jan 27 2007 - 16:31:37 GMT

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