Re: The Green and Gold Roads to Open Access

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 12 Dec 2003 15:22:08 +0000

On Wed, 10 Dec 2003, Les Carr wrote:

> It was very interesting to see some publishers' reactions to OA 1 & 2
> at a meeting I attended recently. The discussion I was present for came
> down clearly on the side of Open Archives as a preferable (and stable)
> way forward, even describing it as a "safety valve" on an overheated
> system. My impression was that it may 'buy enough time' to allow
> publishing practices and business models to adapt (and compete!) on a
> more realistic time scale than those dictated by artificial solutions
> from funding organisations.

But that is *precisely* what the "green" road (BOAI-1) is! A safety-valve
on an overheated system: open-access is needed *right now*, but 24,000
journals are certainly not ready or able to go "golden" (BOAI-2) right
now (nor is anyone in a position to subsidise their doing so, right
now). The green road can provide that open access (100%) right now --
with the help, right now, of the publishers, who are certainly in a
better position to go green than to go gold!

This leaves publishers time to adapt -- while at the same time providing
immediate open access for researchers, right now. And as publishers adapt
(rethink what "added-values" are still worth adding, and what costs
are better worth cutting), it is possible that publisher toll-revenue
losses -- and corresponding university toll-savings -- *might* (I repeat,
*might*) begin to occur and grow, thereby simultaneously (1) providing the
publishers with the impetus to downsize and convert to gold in order
to keep meeting costs *and* (2) providing the institutions with the revenue
out of which to pay those costs!

It is neither a coincidence nor a capitulation (on either side) that
publishers are looking more favorably on BOAI-1. It is part of the
natural logic and pragmatics of the situation:

    "Open Access by Peaceful Evolution" International Association
    of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers "Universal
    Access: By Evolution or Revolution?" Amsterdam, 15-16 May 2003.
    [URL apparently dead: there may still be a cached one somewhere!]

> There was also discussion about librarians and academics changing their
> assumptions and expectations, and whether institutional librarians may
> have to relinquish collections management in the serials world.

Eventually, perhaps, digital librarianship will no longer be about buy-in
collections and collection-management (at least insofar as peer-reviewed
journals are concerned). But for now, whilst they are still paying the
tolls, it's still about managing digital journal collections.

    "Rethinking 'Collections' and Selection in the PostGutenberg Age

If libraries want to help in the creation and curation of
open-access archives for their own institutional output of published
peer-reviewed-journal articles, they can and should. But to do that it
is not enough for them to create archives and fret about preservation:
They have to realize that content-provision by their institute's
researchers is what is needed, that it will only be provided for
the sake of the researcher's own impact, and that the carrot/stick of
publish-or-perish will probably be needed (from university administrators
and government research-funders) in order to induce researchers to do it.

Stevan Harnad

NOTE: A complete archive of the ongoing discussion of providing open
access to the peer-reviewed research literature online is available at
the American Scientist Open Access Forum (98 & 99 & 00 & 01 & 02 & 03):
    Post discussion to:

Dual Open-Access-Provision Policy:
    BOAI-2 ("gold"): Publish your article in a suitable open-access
            journal whenever one exists.
    BOAI-1 ("green"): Otherwise, publish your article in a suitable
            toll-access journal and also self-archive it.

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Received on Fri Dec 12 2003 - 15:22:08 GMT

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