Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Non-OA journals should consider green before gold OA

Stevan Harnad, Should a Viable Journal Convert to Green or to Gold Today?  Open Access Archivangelism, May 16, 2007. 

Summary:  Replies to (anonymized) queries about whether journals should convert to Green or Gold today:
(1) Going Green means endorsing immediate (unembargoed) self-archiving by authors.
(2) Going Gold means either:
(2a) making the entire online edition free for all and continuing to sell the hard copy edition by subscription, as now, or
(2b) charging an extra fee per article to author-institutions for making their individual article free online on their behalf, on the publisher's website (optional Gold "Open Choice"), or
(2c) abandoning the subscription model and the hard copy edition entirely, and charging the author-institutions for publishing in the online (and only) edition.
   Going Green carries some risk to subscriptions, but that is unlikely to be significant till after 100% Green self-archiving is being reliably practised by all authors for all journals. Going Gold via (2a) would be far riskier, needlessly, because Green OA grows anarchically, article by article, whereas Gold OA is total and immediate for the journal. Going optional Gold via (2b) would essentially be to levy a gratuitous extra author charge for self-archiving; while continuing to sell the hard copy edition for subscriptions this would be a highly retrogressive step -- indeed, a Trojan Horse -- except if it was also coupled with going Green (1), in which case it would be fine). And (2c) would be needlessly to jettison the hard copy edition and subscription revenue pre-emptively, for no particular reason.
    Journals wishing to do something to help Open Access (OA) should go Green and then wait to see what happens. Green might eventually propel all journals to (2c). (Going Green (1) and hybrid Gold, (2b), is also a reasonable option, though there will not be many takers for optional Gold, with or without mandates, unless the asking price is negligibly low.)