Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

More on green and gold OA

Stevan Harnad, Automatic search for OA versions of cited articles, Open Access Archivangelism, July 8, 2008.  Excerpt:

Matt Cockerill (publisher of BioMed Central) makes the following comment on "The #1 Myth About Open Access":

You take issue with Mike Dunford's comment: "Just what is open access?... In an open access journal, there's no charge for reading articles..." and note that you feel that author deposit of manuscripts in open access repositories, in parallel to the existing subscription-based pay-to-access journals, is a faster and surer way to achieve open access.

But do you not agree that when a reader of an article spots an interesting item in a reference list, and clicks to follow a link to the article concerned, it does not "feel" like open access when they are faced with a publisher's pay-wall asking for a subscription or per-article fee to view the article. Of course, there are several ways they may be able to view a version of the article without paying. The would-be reader could search the net to see if they can track down a free copy of the article in a repository; they can send an email request to the author (who is hopefully not on holiday and has a legally sharable electronic version to hand); or they can try their luck down at their local library. Fair enough. But you must have some sympathy with a reader who would prefer simply to click a link and get straight to the article concerned, without being challenged to provide credit card details. It's not such a bad definition of open access.

That's exactly why Mike Jewell created Paracite. It would be a piece of cake to set up a bit of software that automatically transformed text that one highlights in a reference list into a Paracite or Google Scholar query. The only reason no one has yet bothered to create that piece of software is that most of that potential content is not yet OA. But Green OA self-archiving and mandates will take care of that...

Comment.  Paracite is great and I'm glad Stevan had a chance to remind everyone that it exists.  (It hasn't gotten much notice recently.)  But I'd answer Matt's question differently.  Matt is right that facing a pay-per-view screen means you didn't click on a link to an OA copy of an article, even if there is an OA edition of the same article elsewhere.  And he's right it would be very useful to click on a citation in a reference list and go straight to an OA copy of the full-text.  That's a reason to publish in OA journals. But it's also a reason to link to OA repository copies when they exist, even when we also link to TA copies in TA journals, and it's a reason to deposit all our paper in OA repositories.  We could shift the question to the relative strategic priorities of gold and green OA, but we don't have to.  Giving priority to gold OA is not a reason to change the definition of OA to exclude green OA, any more than giving priority to green OA is a reason to change the definition of OA to exclude gold OA.  That was the original question.  Let's pursue green and gold OA in parallel and hold to the definition of OA which embraces both.