Re: Against Promoting Pre-Emptive Gold OA Payment Before Mandating Green OA Provision

From: Velterop <velterop_at_GMAIL.COM>
Date: Mon, 23 Aug 2010 19:44:12 +0100

Any OA to formally published peer reviewed literature, including 'green' OA, is
only possible if the publishing of this literature takes place in a financially
sound, sustainable way. Let's not forget that 'green' OA is not 'free', unless
the TA publishers that formally publish the 'greened' articles in peer-reviewed
journals in the first place are financially sustainable. 'Green' OA is paid for
by subscriptions and only as long as there are enough of them and they can
command a high enough fee.

OA to manuscripts and other informal publications can of course be 'free' (i.e.
at no cost to the reader other than the cost of an internet connection), but
I've always understood that the 'green' status of an article is only achieved
when a version or copy of it is formally published in a peer-reviewed journal. I
have not heard or seen that gainsaid.

In short, it is my contention that anything that informs about or enlightens the
publishing or community buy-in of OA, of any colour or shade, is welcome to
those interested in OA and thus appropriate for this forum (and OA fora in
general). If the moderator doesn't agree, he should consider this forum be
re-named "Green Open Access Forum" and its scope narrowed.

Jan Velterop

Stevan Harnad wrote:

On Mon, Aug 23, 2010 at 10:10 AM, Velterop <> wrote:


Might Stevan be implying that OA forums should not be promoting
financial/commercial sustainability of OA? Is it OA he is for, or is it
commercial activity he is against? Or is he a denialist when it comes to the
contribution of commercial ventures to OA?

Jan does not seem to have noticed that I said Gold OA should not be
paid for or promoted *until/unless Green OA has been mandated.*

No, OA is not about promoting financial/commercial sustainability, it
is about providing OA.

And (Green) OA can be provided for free.

Publishers are (understandably) interested in promoting the
financial/commercial sustainability of their business.

But what is missing today is not the financial/commercial
sustainability of the publishing business. What is missing today is

And, to repeat, (Green) OA can be provided for free.

*If and when* Green OA has been universally mandated, and *if and
when* that in turn should prove to make the financial/commercial
sustainability of the publishing business a genuine practical problem,
rather than the hypothetical pseudo-problem it is now, then you can
count on my whole-hearted "affirmationism."

Till then, you can count on my denialism:

The promotion of pre-emptive Gold OA payment is an obstacle to
achieving universal OA.

After Green OA is universally mandated, it is not.

But Green OA is far from being universally mandated; whereas the hand
is already outstretched for pre-emptive Gold OA payment.

Pre-emptive paid Gold OA is an obstacle to achieving universal OA
until Green OA is universally mandated.

    Harnad, S. (2010) The Immediate Practical Implication of the
Houghton Report: Provide Green Open Access Now. Prometheus, 28 (1).
pp. 55-59.

    Harnad, S. (2009) The PostGutenberg Open Access Journal. In: Cope,
B. & Phillips, A (Eds.) The Future of the Academic Journal. Chandos.

    Harnad, S. (2007) The Green Road to Open Access: A Leveraged
Transition. In: Anna Gacs. The Culture of Periodicals from the
Perspective of the Electronic Age. L'Harmattan. 99-106.

Stevan Harnad


Stevan Harnad wrote:

I wonder if it is a good idea for Open Access forums to become the publicity
vehicles for commercial deals?
Stevan Harnad
Scaling to Global OA: Parallel Local Green/Gold Is OK, But Gold Alone First,
No Way

Trying to morph incoming institutional non-OA journal-fleet subscriptions
into outgoing institutional Gold OA journal-fleet "memberships" is
incoherent and cannot scale across journals and institutions; alongside an
institutional Green OA mandate, however, it is innocuous: The Green mandates
will ensure the real, leveraged, scalable, unstoppable progress toward
global OA. Without an institutional Green OA mandate, pursuing local Gold OA
"memberships" is not only futile but a retardant on real progress toward
global OA, creating instead an illusory local sense of progress that further
distracts from and obscures what really needs to be done locally to generate
global OA.

The Immediate Practical Implication of the Houghton Report: Provide Green
Open Access Now

ABSTRACT: Among the many important implications of Houghton et al’s (2009)
timely and illuminating JISC analysis of the costs and benefits of providing
free online access (“Open Access,” OA) to peer-reviewed scholarly and
scientific journal articles one stands out as particularly compelling: It
would yield a forty-fold benefit/cost ratio if the world’s peer-reviewed
research were all self-archived by its authors so as to make it OA. There
are many assumptions and estimates underlying Houghton et al’s modelling and
analyses, but they are for the most part very reasonable and even
conservative. This makes their strongest practical implication particularly
striking: The 40-fold benefit/cost ratio of providing Green OA is an order
of magnitude greater than all the other potential combinations of
alternatives to the status quo analyzed and compared by Houghton et al. This
outcome is all the more significant in light of the fact that self-archiving
already rests entirely in the hands of the research community (researchers,
their institutions and their funders), whereas OA publishing depends on the
publishing industry. Perhaps most remarkable is the fact that this outcome
emerged from studies that approached the problem primarily from the
standpoint of the economics of publication rather than the economics of

OA McMemberships, Dismemberment and MC Escher

Gold OA institutional "membership" is incoherent and does not scale. It only
gives the illusion of making sense if you think of it locally, and
myopically. Annual institutional subscriptions to journals containing the
annual outgoing refereed research of all other institutions do not morph
into annual institutional memberships for publishing each institution's own
outgoing refereed research. There are 25,000 journals and 10,000
institutions! Is every single institution to commit and contract in advance
to pay for its authors' (potential) fraction of annual submissions to every
single journal? Is that a "membership" or a distributed dismemberment? And
is every journal to commit and contract in advance to accept every
institution's annual fraction of submissions? (Is that peer review?) This is
a global oligopolistic illusion that would fit publishers just about as well
as it would fit McDonalds, except there are at least 25,000 different
journals to "join", and institutions each have thousands of author-consumers
with diverse dietary needs, varying day to day and year to year.

Gold Conversion: A Prisoners' Dilemma?

Given the undeniable, irreversible and growing clamour for Open Access (OA)
worldwide, journal publishers face two Prisoners' Dilemmas.
(1) The first concerns whether to continue business as usual, to mounting
opprobrium from the academic community as well as the tax-paying public, or
to convert directly to Gold OA now, at the risk that institutional
subscriptions at current prices for incoming journals may not transmute
stably into institutional "memberships" for outgoing article publication
costs at the same institutional price. If publishers convert from
institutional subscriptions to institutional Gold OA "memberships" today,
they counter the opprobrium and lock in current subscription rates for a
year (or whatever duration-deal is agreed with institutions), but they risk
institutional memberships defecting after the duration elapses, with
cost-recovery fragmented to an anarchic individual author/article level that
may not be enough to make ends meet.
(2) The second Prisoners' Dilemma facing publishers is that if they instead
counter the opprobrium by converting to Green OA now (as 62% of them already
have done), Green OA Self-Archiving Mandates may still force their
conversion to Gold eventually, but because access-provision and archiving
(and their costs) will by then be performed by the distributed network of
mandated Green OA Institutional Repositories, the revenues (and expenses) of
journal publishing then may be reduced from what they are now. (Perhaps this
can all be integrated into just a single Prisoners' Dilemma -- or perhaps it
is not a Prisoners' Dilemma at all: just the optimal and inevitable outcome
of the powerful new potential unleashed by the online medium for the
communication of peer-reviewed scholarly and scientific research.)

On Not Putting The Gold OA-Payment Cart Before The Green OA-Provision Horse

SUMMARY: Universities need to commit to mandating Green OA self-archiving
before committing to spend their scarce available funds to pay for Gold OA
publishing. Most of the university's potential funds to pay Gold OA
publishing fees are currently committed to paying their annual journal
subscription fees, which are thereby covering the costs of publication
already. Pre-emptively committing to pay Gold OA publication fees over and
above paying subscription fees will only provide OA for a small fraction of
a university's total research article output; Green OA mandates will provide
OA for all of it. Journal subscriptions cannot be cancelled unless the
journals' contents are otherwise accessible to a university's users. (In
addition, the very same scarcity of funds that makes pre-emptive Gold OA
payment for journal articles today premature and ineffectual also makes Gold
OA payment for monographs unaffordable, because the university funds already
committed to journal subscriptions today are making even the purchase of a
single print copy of incoming monographs for the library prohibitive, let
alone making Gold OA publication fees for outgoing monographs affordable.)
Universal Green OA mandates will make the final peer-reviewed drafts of all
journal articles freely accessible to all would-be users online, thereby not
only providing universal OA, but opening the doors to an eventual transition
to universal Gold OA if and when universities then go on to cancel
subscriptions, releasing those committed funds to pay the publishing costs
of Gold OA.

Springer's Already on the Side of the Angels: What's the Big Deal?

SUMMARY: The Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) has made
a deal with Springer that articles by VSNU authors will be made OA. But
Springer is already on the side of the angels on OA, being completely Green
on immediate, unembargoed author OA self-archiving. Hence all VSNU authors
are already free to deposit their refereed final drafts of their Springer
articles in their institutional repositories, without requiring any further
permission or payment. So what in addition is meant by the VSNU deal with
Springer? that the Springer PDF rather than the author's final draft can be
deposited? That Springer does the deposit on VSNU authors' behalf? Or is
this a deal for prepaid hybrid Gold OA? In the case of Springer articles, it
seems that what the Netherlands lacked was not the right to make them OA,
but the mandate (from the VSNU universities and Netherlands' research
funders like NWO) to make them OA. There are some signs, however, that this
too might be on the way...

University of California: Throwing Money At Gold OA Without Mandating Green
On 2010-08-23, at 8:22 AM, Peter Suber wrote:

[Forwarding from Renate Bayaz at Springer. --Peter Suber.]


Springer and Helmholtz Association sign agreement for open access membership

Received on Mon Aug 23 2010 - 23:20:53 BST

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