Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Looking for neutral terminology

Stevan Harnad, The Two Forms of OA Have Been Defined: They Now Need Value-Neutral Names, Open Access Archivangelism, May 3, 2008. 

Summary:  Our joint statement with Peter Suber noted that both price-barrier-free access and permission-barrier-free access are indeed forms of Open Access (OA) and that virtually all Green OA and much of Gold OA today is just price-barrier-free OA, although we both agree that permission-barrier-free OA is the ultimate desideratum.

What we had not anticipated was that if price-barrier-free OA were actually named by its logical condition as "Weak OA" (i.e., the necessary condition for permission-barrier-free OA) then that would create difficulties for those who are working hard toward the universal adoption of the mandates to provide price-barrier-free OA (Green OA self-archiving mandates) that are only now beginning to grow and flourish.

So we are looking for a shorthand or stand-in for "price-barrier-free OA" and "permission-barrier-free OA" that will convey the distinction without any pejorative connotations for either form of OA. The two forms of OA stand defined, explicitly and logically. They are now in need of value-neutral names (e.g., BASIC vs. FULL OA).


  • Stevan is right.  Last week we introduced terms ("weak" and "strong" OA) to describe an important and widely recognized distinction.  But the terms were infelicitous and we're still looking for better ones.  We're not doing this alone and are getting good input from many different perspectives. 
  • Just to recap:  the distinction is between (1) removing price barriers alone and (2) removing price barriers as well as some permission barriers.  There's no doubt that BBB OA belongs to the second family and we're not trying to revise or reclassify it.  We just want short, clear, and neutral terms for these two fundamental types.  The effort here is not to make any kind of policy recommendation, but simply to achieve new clarity in talking about different policy options.  More later--