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Green OA vs. Gold OA. Which one to choose?

Green OA vs. Gold OA

August 5, 2013

The advantages and disadvantages of Green and Gold OA are discussed by the scientific community all the time. Which form of these two models is more open and accessible? Which one should be treated as the real OA? And finally, which one is better for authors? Let’s make a short list of the pros and cons of each model.

It may be said that Green OA implements better the idea of open access to research results. Basically, the cost of Green OA can be reduced only to the cost of repository infrastructure. The author does not have to pay APCs since we are, in fact, talking about self-publishing and the self-archiving of scientific papers. There are almost no intermediaries who “prey” on the work of the scientist. What is more important is that the author decides where, when and in which form his/her research is made available to readers. However with Green OA there is one “small” problem, namely peer-review. Of course, self-publishing does not mean that papers in OA repositories are not peer-reviewed. However, still a large number of publications published in Green OA are articles that have been first published in journals offering classic peer-review and Impact Factor, and these journals usually enforce a time embargo on publishing in repositories. That embargo is one of the biggest problems and obstacles for the development of Green OA. Another issue is that a scientific article might vanish in the jungle of the ever increasing number of repositories. Currently, almost every research institution and university wishes to have their own repository. Searching through them can be a tiresome task.

On the other hand, there is Gold OA, a publishing model which is not very different from that of traditional journals, but with an additional feature – accessibility for everyone. In OA journals, articles are peer-reviewed, edited and released for publication on “traditional” principles. This model also implies that the author must pay APCs, but not necessarily with private funds (see article: 5 truths about publishing in Open Access which you should know before you start). It can be said that this model is not as open as Green OA.

BUT

Gold OA is more in harmony with the current realities of scientific publishing. Today’s career development system is based on publication in journals, which can generate Impact Factor and may contribute to higher citations level, and Gold OA is able to offer just that.

So what to choose? Gold OA or Green OA? In my view, it is difficult at this point to consider Green OA as an alternative to the traditional model of publishing in science. At least not under the regime of the current paradigm, that places such strong emphasis on prestige and recognition. Green OA offers no mechanisms for promotion, and neither does it assure scientists that publishing in this model can serve their career in a measurable way. What is more, Green OA may still be regarded as something adjunct to the existing publishing model:  first publish your paper in a regular journal, and once the embargo has been lifted, consider submitting it to some repository.

This does not mean, however, as often appears in this discussion, that it makes sense to put Gold OA and Green OA on opposite sides of the barricade. The two models can be complementary. Moreover, it is good that two models exist. This provides a greater opportunity for authors to influence the development of each. At some point, the paradigm will change and the competition between the Green and Gold models will cease to make sense.

This entry was posted on August 5, 2013 by Kamil Mizera and tagged , , .

10 thoughts on “Green OA vs. Gold OA. Which one to choose?

  1. Stevan Harnad

    MANDATING GREEN PROVIDES OA AND LEADS TO AFFORDABLE, SUSTAINABLE FAIR-GOLD

    Plans by universities and research funders to pay the costs of Open Access Publishing (“Gold OA”) are premature.

    Funds are short; 80% of journals (including virtually all the top journals) are still subscription-based, tying up the potential funds to pay for Gold OA; the asking price for Gold OA is still high; and there is concern that paying to publish may inflate acceptance rates and lower quality standards.

    What is needed now is for universities and funders to mandate OA self-archiving (of authors’ final peer-reviewed drafts, immediately upon acceptance for publication) (“Green OA”).

    That will provide immediate OA; and if and when universal Green OA should go on to make subscriptions unsustainable (because users are satisfied with just the Green OA versions) that will in turn induce journals to cut costs (print edition, online edition, access-provision, archiving), downsize to just providing the service of peer review, and convert to the Gold OA cost-recovery model; meanwhile, the subscription cancellations will have released the funds to pay these residual service costs.

    The natural way to charge for the service of peer review then will be on a “no-fault basis,” with the author’s institution or funder paying for each round of refereeing, regardless of outcome (acceptance, revision/re-refereeing, or rejection). This will minimize cost while protecting against inflated acceptance rates and decline in quality standards.

    Harnad, S. (2010) No-Fault Peer Review Charges: The Price of Selectivity Need Not Be Access Denied or Delayed. D-Lib Magazine 16 (7/8). http://www.dlib.org/dlib/july10/harnad/07harnad.html

    1. alexander wait zaranek

      Steve Harnad’s analysis seems exactly correct. Mandate immediate green archival (typically CC-BY-NC). Optionally, when circumstances allow, go immediately to CC-BY (as “gold” or “diamond” open-access.)

      There is virtually zero excuse to not deposit articles in institutional repositories aside from publisher FUD.

  2. Stevan Harnad

    GREEN OA IS SELF-ARCHIVING OF PEER-REVIEWED, PUBLISHED JOURNAL ARTICLES

    1. Green OA is not self-publishing, it is self-archiving: making peer-reviewed, published journal articles accessible free for all potential users on the web, instead of accessible only to users at institutions that can afford to subscribe to the journal in which it was published.

    2. Green OA accordingly needs to be mandated by all institutions and funders, in all disciplines

    3. The majority of journals do not embargo Green OA, but for those that do, institutions and funders can still mandate immediate-deposit, of the author’s refereed final draft, in the author’s institutional repository, immediately upon acceptance for publication, whether or not the publisher embargoes Green OA.

    4. Authors can provide immediate OA to all unembargoed deposits, and immediate “Almost-OA” to embargoed deposits via the repository’s eprint-request Button, with which any would-be user can request an individual eprint for research purposes wth one click and the author can fulfill the request with one click.

    5. Articles deposited in institutional repositories are picked up by all the major search engines and are not less but more visible and accessible than articles that are only available from behind publishers’ paywalls.

  3. Pandelis Perakakis

    I agree with Stevan that the price for gold OA is very high and I don’t understand why we should embrace a model where costs are simply tranferred from readers to authors. I see gold OA as the publishers’ move to stay in the game and maintain their revenue stream.

    I disagree, however, that green OA alone is enough to make publishers cut costs. Instead, I believe that as long as we depend on journals for managing (not performing as this is done by external scholars and offered to journals for free), journals will continue to use high rejection rates as a means to build their prestige and publishers will continue to capitalise on journal prestige to offer “Big Deals” with extorionate subscription fees.

    There is a new trend gaining momentum in the scholarly communication landscape right now, which is to decouple research evaluation from journals. Independent peer review will inevitable also come in different flavours creating different kinds of dependencies and conflicts of interest. We try to promote a not-for-profit, community-based flavour of independent peer review with our organisation Open Scholar C.I.C. (http://www.openscholar.org.uk) and our flagship project LIBRE | liberating research (http://www.libreapp.org). Journal-independent peer review however is at an embryonic stage and a lot needs to change to see it flourish, if it ever does…

    1. Pandelis Perakakis

      Stevan, I totally agree that green OA is adequately addressing the OA problem and on the importance of self-archiving mandates. I am just saying that OA is not our community’s only problem. We should all be thankful to you personally for your contribution in promoting green OA, but we need to also start working on fixing other equally important problems, such as the way research is evaluated. Perhaps we need to create a new “movement” for fixing peer review, so that it is not confused with the OA movement. I would then hope to see OA people to also support the open peer review movement as I see them complementary in bringing about a new era of ethical, society-conscious scholarly communication.

  4. Boris Nunez

    So what to choose? Gold OA or Green OA? In my view, it is difficult at this point to consider Green OA as an alternative to the traditional model of publishing in science. At least not under the regime of the current paradigm, that places such strong emphasis on prestige and recognition. Green OA offers no mechanisms for promotion, and neither does it assure scientists that publishing in this model can serve their career in a measurable way. What is more, Green OA may still be regarded as something adjunct to the existing publishing model: first publish your paper in a regular journal, and once the embargo has been lifted, consider submitting it to some repository.

  5. Teri Branch

    The following is a schematic overview of the conventional versus the Open Access publishing model (‘Gold OA’). In the Conventional Model, authors achieve research results and prepare their manuscripts. Typically, the copyright has to be signed over to the publishers. The manuscripts are usually submitted to so-called legacy journals which have been active in astronomy for a long time and which provide a number of services, including pre-publication peer-review be international referees, copy-editing, distribution (e.g., making sure that the electronic version gets indexed by important search engines), recognition (for instance through measures like the Journal Impact Factor or through the reputation these journals have achieved among the astronomy community), and archiving/preservation. Access is based on subscriptions which provide immediate access. In addition, special forms of open access may apply, for instance delayed OA (in astronomy, core journals become available to all users after 1, 2, or 3 years), partial OA (e.g., certain section sof A&A), or through Green OA in case authors deposit their manuscripts on subject-based or institutional repositories. While the whole publishing model (conventional as well as OA) involves many hidden costs, the most visible costs in the conventional model are the subscription fees, together with pages charges, if they apply.

  6. Maynard G. Cummings

    This much lower cost was mentioned (at the 48:35 min. point in the video) by Ivy Anderson, Director of Collection Development and Management at the California Digital Library, the second speaker in the event at Columbia University (whose presentation begins at the 18:50 min. point in the video). However, she also pointed out that arXiv is primarily a repository. It’s not a publishing platform.

  7. Pingback: How to publish a paper in Open Access

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