Is the Access Spectrum a Red Herring or Are Green and Gold Too Black and White?

Stevan Harnad has commented extensively on my "The Spectrum of E-Journal Access Policies: Open to Restricted Access" DigitalKoans posting. Thanks for doing so, Stevan. Here are my thoughts on your comments.

First, let me concede that if you look at this question from Stevan’s particular open-access-centric point of view that, of course, the spectrum of publisher access policies is a complete and utter waste of time. I don’t recall suggesting that this was a new open access model per se, even though it includes open access in it as a component and it makes some further distinctions between open access and free access journals. Rather, it is what it says it is: a model that presents a range of publisher access policies from the least restrictive to the most restrictive. The color codes merely enhance the model slightly, they are not central to it (and, of course, as Steven says, he created this color coding Frankenstein to begin with). The model says nothing about e-prints.

That said, Steven’s view that open access equals free access (period) is not, as he well knows, universal, and his green and gold models are based on this premise.

Here is how Peter Suber defines OA in "Open Access Overview: Focusing on Open Access to Peer-Reviewed Research Articles and Their Preprints" (boldface is mine):

  • OA should be immediate, rather than delayed, and OA should apply to the full-text, not just to abstracts or summaries.
  • OA removes price barriers (subscriptions, licensing fees, pay-per-view fees) and permission barriers (most copyright and licensing restrictions).
  • There is some flexibility about which permission barriers to remove. For example, some OA providers permit commercial re-use and some do not. Some permit derivative works and some do not. But all of the major public definitions of OA agree that merely removing price barriers, or limiting permissible uses to "fair use" ("fair dealing" in the UK), is not enough.
  • Here’s how the Budapest Open Access Initiative put it: "There are many degrees and kinds of wider and easier access to this literature. By ‘open access’ to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited."
  • Here’s how the Bethesda and Berlin statements put it: "For a work to be OA, the copyright holder must consent in advance to let users ‘copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship….’"
  • The Budapest (February 2002), Bethesda (June 2003), and Berlin (October 2003) definitions of "open access" are the most central and influential for the OA movement. Sometimes I call refer to them collectively, or to their common ground, as the BBB definition.

So, by most OA definitions, a journal that "makes all of its articles immediately and permanently accessible to all would-be users webwide toll-free" is not OA unless it also uses a Creative Commons or similar license that permits use with minimal restrictions. It is FA (Free Access). As I have said in an earlier dialog, we can count on no journal to be "permanently accessible" unless some trusted archive other than the publisher makes it so, an issue that Steven apparently disagrees with, believing that publishers never go out of business.

I note that Steven has deviated from his "chrononomic parsimony" principle by having both "Green" and "Pale-Green," in his model and then lumping them both together in his discussions as "GREEN." (In his Summary Statistics So Far site he also introduces the color Grey, for "neither yet.") If preprints and postprints are of equal value, why not just code them Green? If they are not of equal value (i.e., postprints that accurately incorporate the changes that occur during the peer-review process are the only real substitute for the published article), then, in reality, those 15.5% of "Pale-Green" journals are of limited value in terms of self-archiving, and the real GREEN journal number is 76.2%, not 92%.

I must admit to some confusion on his latest stand that all types of self-archiving are equal. In "Ten Years After," he seems to be expressing a different sentiment regarding author home pages:

That said, there was a naive element to the Subversive Proposal, too, since Harnad’s plan would have led to researchers posting their papers on thousands of isolated FTP sites. This would have meant that anyone wanting to access the papers would have needed prior knowledge of the papers’ existence and the whereabouts of every relevant archive. They would then have had to search each archive separately. Today, Harnad concedes that "anonymous FTP sites and arbitrary Web sites are more like common graves, insofar as searching is concerned."

Perhaps I misunderstand what is meant by "arbitrary Web sites."

As the prior DigitalKoans dialog beginning with "How Green Is My Publisher?" shows, we clearly disagree on many points related to the importance of author copyright agreements (e.g., they have to permit deposit in disciplinary archives), the importance of deposit in OAI-PMH-compliant archives, and the mission and scope of institutional repositories.

A series of DigitalKoans postings that start with "The View from the IR Trenches, Part 1" provides numerous quotes from the literature that bolster my case.

Second, while I admire Stevan’s unflagging advocacy of open access (by which he really means free access), open access is not the only issue in the e-journal publishing world that is of concern to librarians to whom this missive was mainly addressed. This is because librarians, while hopefully working to build a better future, have to deal with the messy existing realities of the e-publishing environment to do their jobs and to make decisions about how to allocate scarce resources. Consequently, librarians have to scan the e-publishing environment, analyze it, categorize it, and make evaluative judgements about it. They have to make models of e-publishing reality to better understand it. They don’t have the luxury of only dreaming about what that reality should be.

Thus, while Steven is indifferent to many of those 894,302 free full-text articles from 857 HighWire-hosted journals (a number which likely dwarfs all articles available from OA/free journals), librarians are not. Paying attention to them is important. While many are not immediately free, they are free nonetheless after some embargo period. And EA (Embargoed Access) journals are better than RA (Restricted Access) journals in practical terms for users who have no other current access. And even limited access to more restrictive PA (Partial Access) journals is likely to be welcomed by users who today would have no access otherwise. I know that both kinds of access are welcomed by me as a user.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t strive for journals to move up the spectrum from red to green, but it is to say that: (1) some free access is better than no free access for journals that will never move further up the spectrum, and (2) it may be that some journals have to move step-by-step, not in one leap, for the change to take place, and, if they start higher, it may be easier to encourage them to move further and faster. (But we have to know which ones have this potential based on their current status.)

Steven’s model has colors, but, in reality, each color is black and white: Gold and nothing, GREEN and grey. All or nothing. And, as long as you accept his premises, it works, and it allows him to focus on his free-access goal with single minded determination, undistracted by the knotted complexities of the e-scholarly publishing environment. Long may he run.

For those who have a different view of OA or who have broader concerns, it’s too "black and white."

I give him the last word on this matter.

4 thoughts on “Is the Access Spectrum a Red Herring or Are Green and Gold Too Black and White?”

  1. OA: DON’T TAKE YOUR CUES FROM YOUR P’S

    Prior AmSci Topic Thread: “Free Access vs. Open Access” (began August, 2003) http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Hypermail/Amsci/2956.html

    For those without the time to work through the details, the punch-line is this:

    * * What research and researchers need, now, is toll-free, immediate, permanent, webwide, online access to the full-text of all 2.5 million articles published annually in the world’s 24,000 peer-reviewed journals. * *

    That is is what is (or ought to be) meant by “Open Access” (OA) (and it is certainly all I’ve ever meant by it — and I’ve been at it a lot longer than the day some of us coined that term for the “BOAI” after Budapest in 2001!).

    Librarians have been concerned about journal pricing, permissions and preservation (including digital preservation) — the 3 P’s — for a long time too. But those P concerns had *nothing* whatsoever to do with OA before, and they still have nothing to do with OA now — except that, if willfully *conflated* with OA, they can help embargo OA for yet another decade.

    (One of the many ways to willfully conflate the P’s with OA is what Charles has proposed: to co-opt the original meaning of a “Green” journal — a code coined to refer to journals that give their Green Light to author self-archiving — and use it instead to mean “Open Access Journals,” for which the already proposed and used color code had been “Gold”. This effectively washes out self-archiving, and instead re-focusses everything on the three P’s.)

    As I said, one cannot legislate either tastes or colors, so I shall simply try to show where and how both Charles Bailey and the library community are missing the point and blocking progress on OA if they try to force OA into their Procrustean bed of P’s, thereby unwittingly helping to delay and deny to the research user community the access to the content they so urgently need today, to delay and deny to the research author community the usage and impact that they are now needlessly losing, daily, monthly, yearly, and to delay and deny to research itself the potential productivity and progress that is all being still-born currently, owing to the absence of toll-free, immediate, permanent, webwide, online access to all article full-texts. And all this in the name of the library community’s all-important three P’s: Pricing, Permissions, Preservation.

    On Mon, 16 May 2005, Charles W. Bailey, Jr. wrote:

    CB: First, let me concede that if you look at this question from Stevan’s particular open-access-centric point of view that, of course, the spectrum of publisher access policies is a complete and utter waste of time.

    Translation: If you are concerned with OA instead of the 3 P’s, the 3 P’s will look like a waste of time: No, the 3 P’s are not a waste of time. They are just *irrelevant to OA* and should cease to be conflated with it, to OA’s cost.

    CB: I don’t recall suggesting that this was a new open access model per se, even though it includes open access in it as a component and it makes some further distinctions between open access and free access journals.

    Charles did not propose it as a new OA model; he simply chose to code journals in terms of their “degree of OA” and to use a highly complicated, particolored journal code that not only clashed with the simple two-color journal code — which had been designed specifically to claify things and bring them into focus (OA Journals: Gold; Journals endorsing OA self-archiving by authors: Green) — but reassigned “Green” altogether, to OA Journals, threw in a dizzying bunch of other color-coded distinctions irrelevant to OA, and threw out the most fundamental distinction of all, pertaining to self-archiving! And revived the bogus “*OA/FA” distinction to boot.

    Quick reminder: What distinguishes this notional “*OA” from OA (= FA) is the following:

    (1) Creative Commons License (irrelevant if the full-text is accessible toll-free to all users, webwide, immediately and permanently).

    (2) Republication/Re-Use Rights (irrelevant if the full-text is accessible toll-free to all users, webwide, immediately and permanently). (OA is about user access — which includes reading online, downloading, data-crunching, and print-off, and de facto also trawler-harvesting; it is not about the right to re-publish, re-sell, or repackage in a database.)

    (3) Redistribution Rights (irrelevant if the full-text is accessible toll-free to all users, webwide, immediately and permanently). (OA is about *online* access, not on-paper access: redistribute the URL instead of the paper!)

    “*OA” would be FA + (1) + (2) + (3),

    whereas OA = FA. And that’s all it was ever meant or needed to be.

    CB: Rather, it is what it says it is: a model that presents a range of publisher access policies from the least restrictive to the most restrictive. The color codes merely enhance the model slightly, they are not central to it (and, of course, as Stevan says, he created this color coding Frankenstein to begin with). The model says nothing about e-prints.

    (i) I must remind Charles that the name and theme of his blog is: DigitalKoans: What Is the Sound of One E-Print Downloading?

    (ii) When we have one color code calling a journal GREEN if it allows self-archiving and GOLD if it is an OA journal, and another color code calling a journal GREEN if it is an OA journal, we have a color clash and a code war whatever “model” we may have in mind (especially with the new code calling the old one “Frankenstein”!).

    CB: That said, Stevan’s view that open access equals free access (period) is not, as he well knows, universal, and his green and gold models are based on this premise.

    I have stated exactly why the OA/FA distinction is bogus. To move forward now, we don’t need a nose-count but reasons.

    CB: Here is how Peter Suber defines OA in “Open Access Overview: Focusing on Open Access to Peer-Reviewed Research Articles and Their Preprints”: http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/overview.htm

    OA should be immediate, rather than delayed, and OA should apply to the full-text, not just to abstracts or summaries.

    So far identical (“immediate,” “full-text’).

    OA removes price barriers (subscriptions, licensing fees, pay-per-view fees) and permission barriers (most copyright and licensing restrictions).

    Still identical (“toll-free,” “webwide”). If there are no permissions barriers blocking your access to commercial ads, porn, blogs, or other blarney full-texts that are accessible to you toll-free, webwide, why would you imagine that there are any special permission barriers in the case of journal articles that are accessible to you toll-free, webwide?

    There is some flexibility about which permission barriers to remove. For example, some OA providers permit commercial re-use and some do not.

    Irrelevant.

    Some permit derivative works and some do not.

    Irrelevant.

    But all of the major public definitions of OA agree that merely removing price barriers, or limiting permissible uses to “fair use” (“fair dealing” in the UK), is not enough.

    Correct. There must also be toll-free, immediate full-text access, toll-free, webwide, permanently. With that, there is no more of substance left to disagree about.

    Here’s how the Budapest Open Access Initiative put it: “There are many degrees and kinds of wider and easier access to this literature. By “open access” to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download,

    So far, identical.

    copy, distribute, print,

    Meaning what? Print-off locally. Fine, go ahead. Print multiple copies and distribute or sell: not fine. But just distribute the URL instead! Same effect. No problem. And again, much ado about nothing.

    > search, or link to the full texts of these articles,

    No problem.

    crawl them for indexing,

    No problem (or at least as moot as for all other web content that is not password-protected or fire-walled).

    pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose,

    No problem.

    without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself.

    Exactly, fully covered by toll-free, webwide access for all.

    The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.”

    For the online full-text — which, to remind everyone, is the *only thing* at issue with OA, which was a new possibility that arose with the online age and does *not* change things for paper or paper-distribution — this is fine.

    For the on-paper rights it is a bit misleading.

    And of course authorship, attribution, and text-integrity are still protected, as always, by copyright, for OA articles.

    Here’s how the Bethesda and Berlin statements put it: “For a work to be OA, the copyright holder must consent in advance to let users ‘copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship'”

    This definition (Berlin simply quoted Bethesda verbatim) was formulated during the “Gold Rush” when “OA” was being co-opted by OA journal publishing (Gold) and ignoring OA self-archiving (Green) of non-OA journal articles. It is therefore only a definition of an article published in an OA journal, not a definition of OA.

    The Gold Rush is now over, and we are now in the Green Era of Institutional Repositories and Self-Archiving.

    No “advance consent” to users for anything is needed for the author of a published (Green) journal article to make his article OA by self-archiving it (apart from the copyright agreement with the publisher, plus the act of making the accessible toll-free webwide). “Public display” is probably moot (display on-screen?); and derivative works (apart from the usual quoting, using data, citing) is either irrelevant or downright incorrect (and governed ny whatever copyright agreement the author may have signed with his Green publisher).

    CB: The Budapest (February 2002), Bethesda (June 2003), and Berlin (October 2003) definitions of “open access” are the most central and influential for the OA movement. Sometimes I call refer to them collectively, or to their common ground, as the BBB definition.

    And in their substantive points they are all identical: OA = FA.

    CB: So, by most OA definitions, a journal that “makes all of its articles immediately and permanently accessible to all would-be users webwide toll-free” is not OA unless it also uses a Creative Commons or similar license that permits use with minimal restrictions. It is FA (Free Access).

    With all due respect, I completely disagree. Such a journal is 100% OA. It may not be “*OA” (from the point of view of the three P’s), and this may be a matter of interest to some librarians, but it is totally irrelevant to research and researchers. And after all, that is why these articles are written and read.

    CB: As I have said in an earlier dialog, we can count on no journal to be “permanently accessible” unless some trusted archive other than the publisher makes it so, an issue that Steven apparently disagrees with, believing that publishers never go out of business.

    I’m afraid I have grown so weary with this theme that I cannot bring myself to gather and link all the FAQs. Digital Preservation is a worthy issue; it is being and will be taken care of. But it is not an OA issue. The OA issue is getting from today’s 15% OA to 100% OA, not to fuss about the digital preservation of either OA or non-OA journals.

    Oh, alright, maybe just one FAQ: http://www.eprints.org/self-faq/#1.Preservation

    CB: I note that Steven has deviated from his “chrononomic parsimony” principle by having both “Green” and “Pale-Green,” in his model and then lumping them both together in his discussions as “GREEN.”

    I haven’t deviated in the least. There were always preprints and postprints, and the two shades of green simply mark that pertinent fact.

    CB: (In his Summary Statistics So Far site he also introduces the color Grey, for “neither yet.”)

    Every category needs a complement (i.e., the category of things that are *not* in the first category). As mentioned before, Green and Gold are not mutually exclusive: All Gold journals are also Green journals (but not vice versa). But Green and Gold do not exhaust all the journals there are. 8% are neither Gold nor Green. The original Romeo color code for such journals was “white,” but to avoid the white-washing connotations of not being green, I substituted Gray: So what? The category is real, non-empty, and so merited a name and color to tag it, and got one.

    CB: If preprints and postprints are of equal value, why not just code them Green?

    First, they are not of equal value: Preprints are unrefereed drafts, postprints are peer-reviewed, accepted drafts. There has definitely been “value added” by the peer review. Moreover, the specific target of the OA movement is the postprints, not just, or primarily the preprints.

    What is of just about equal value (but not equal convenience) is (1) postprints and (2) preprints plus a list of the corrections that will make them into postprints.

    So journals that only give their green light to preprint self-archivng are coded Green, but Pale-Green, to mark the (slight) inconvenience that they cause their authors (and users) in trying to make them resort to linking corrections instead of self-archiving their refereed final draft. (In practice, they will turn out to be much the same thing.)

    CB: If they are not of equal value (i.e., postprints that accurately incorporate the changes that occur during the peer-review process are the only real substitute for the published article), then, in reality, those 15.5% of “Pale-Green” journals are of limited value in terms of self-archiving, and the real GREEN journal number is 76.2%, not 92%.

    Cut the cake any way you like. Today 15% are self-archived, and what we need is 100%; but instead we are fussing here about the P’s, and how many are to be (1) postprints vs. (2) preprints plus corrections…

    CB: I must admit to some confusion on his latest stand that all types of self-archiving are equal. In “Ten Years After,” he seems to be expressing a different sentiment regarding author home pages: http://www.infotoday.com/it/oct04/poynder.shtml

    No, I originally proposed anonymous ftp, superseded by personal web-pages, superseded by OAI-compliant Institutional Archives. All along, the idea was to self-archive all versions: preprint, corrections, postprint, corrections.

    CB: That said, there was a naive element to the Subversive Proposal, too, since Harnad’s plan would have led to researchers posting their papers on thousands of isolated FTP sites. This would have meant that anyone wanting to access the papers would have needed prior knowledge of the papers’s existence and the whereabouts of every relevant archive. They would then have had to search each archive separately. Today, Harnad concedes that “anonymous FTP sites and arbitrary Web sites are more like common graves, insofar as searching is concerned.”

    Correct, and I have prominently done my Mea Culpa’s for that technological shortfall (still infinitely better for would-be users who would otherwise be access-denied) and updated to OAI-compliance: but what is the point being made here, and what has it to do with the preprint/correction/postprint issue?

    CB: Perhaps I misunderstand what is meant by “arbitrary Web sites.”

    No you didn’t misunderstand: It’s non-OAI-compliant URLs — the kind of anonymous graves that Citeseer and Google Scholar have nevertheless done a good job harvesting and sorting. But OAI-compliant Institutional Repositories will help them, and OAIster will do that much better. What’s needed now is the OA content — but instead we’re here worrying about the P’s and the semiology of “OA” vs. “FA”!

    CB: As the prior DigitalKoans dialog beginning with “How Green Is My Publisher?” shows, we clearly disagree on many points related to the importance of author copyright agreements (e.g., they have to permit deposit in disciplinary archives), the importance of deposit in OAI-PMH-compliant archives, and the mission and scope of institutional repositories. http://www.escholarlypub.com/digitalkoans/2005/04/26/how-gre en-is-my-publisher/

    More important, we disagree on their importance *for OA* (as opposed to their importance for the P’s; and we also disagree about the relevance of the P’s to OA, as well as on whether there is any substantive OA/FA distinction).

    CB: A series of DigitalKoans postings that start with “The View from the IR Trenches, Part 1” provides numerous quotes from the literature that bolster my case. http://www.escholarlypub.com/digitalkoans/2005/05/03/the-vie w-from-the-ir-trenches-part-1/

    The IR material that you review and quote from here is out of date. (Things are moving fast.) Also, there are IRs and there are IRs. The concern of the OA movement is OA IRs (self-archived journal articles, their preprints and postprints) not IRs for all of the other digital concerns an institution might have: institutional digital content management, institutional digital content preservation, institutional digital courseware, institutional digital publishing, institutional record-keeping.

    None of these other kinds of IR uses (and their problems) should not be allowed to constrain or slow progress on OA-specific IRs.

    CB: Second, while I admire Stevan’s unflagging advocacy of open access (by which he really means free access), open access is not the only issue in the e-journal publishing world that is of concern to librarians to whom this missive was mainly addressed. This is because librarians, while hopefully to build a better future, have to deal with the messy existing realities of the e-publishing environment to do their jobs and to make decisions about how to allocate scarce resources. Consequently, librarians have to scan the e-publishing environment, analyze it, categorize it, and make evaluative judgements about it. They have to make models of e-publishing reality to better understand it. They don’t have the luxury of only dreaming about what that reality should be.

    I could give a rather long list of concrete things:

    http://cogprints.org/

    http://www.eprints.org/

    http://citebase.eprints.org/

    http://psycprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/

    http://opcit.eprints.org/

    http://citebase.eprints.org/isi_study/

    http://www.crsc.uqam.ca/lab/chawki/ch.htm

    http://software.eprints.org/handbook/

    http://archives.eprints.org/

    http://www.eprints.org/signup/sign.php

    http://romeo.eprints.org/ etc.

    that couldn’t be more remote from the oneiric, but what Charles seems to be implying here is that to focus on OA instead of the P’s is to turn away from real work on everyday reality and dream: No, it is real work on OA rather than on the P’s. Perhaps it’s not even library-related work; perhaps the points of apparent commonality are illusory.

    (I don’t really think they are illusory, and some librarians have been the greatest allies and pioneers in OA. But there always seems to be a backwards tug, an undertow, from more traditional library concerns (viz, the 3 P’s and a few others), and when that tug gets the better of the tug for OA, there is no doubt about where my own priorities lie.)

    CB: Thus, while Steven is indifferent to many of those 894,302 free full-text articles from 857 HighWire-hosted journals (a number which likely dwarfs all articles available from OA/free journals), librarians are not.

    I am not indifferent to toll-free Back-Access, but it’s clear *that’s* not OA. Research doesn’t progress by being under a partial access embargo for 6 months, or a year, or longer (any more than it progressed from being restricted to those who can pay the access-tolls).

    Moreover, whereas High-Wire journal Back-Access may dwarf OA (Gold) journals, that certainly does not exhaust, let alone dwarf Green (self-archived) OA. At 15% of the annual 2.5 million articles, that means over 400,000 OA articles per year. High-Wire’s, I take it, is a total to date, not an annual figure?

    And my concern is not with the 15% OA we have, but the 85% we haven’t. And the 92% it should already have been — without any particular interest in the 76.5%/15.2% breakdown for how much of the nonexistent OA content will be postprints and how much preprints-plus-corrections: The point is to get it into the IRs as soon as possible; and that’s not facilitated by over-painting the 92% journals that are Green with a spectrum of colors that have absolutely nothing to do with their self-archiving policy! Nor does it have anything to do with the curation of journals that eventually provide free back-access.

    CB: Paying attention to them is important. While many are not immediately free, they are free nonetheless after some embargo period. And EA (Embargoed Access) journals are better than RA (Restricted Access) journals in practical terms for users who have no other current access. And even limited access to more restrictive PA (Partial Access) journals is likely to be welcomed by users who today would have no access otherwise. I know that both kinds of access are welcomed by me as a user. http://www.highwire.org/lists/freeart.dtl

    Yes, but you seem — in this cornucopia of back-access options — forgotten OA entirely, and the fact that the cupboards are 85% bare whereas they could and should be at least 92% green! And your “users” sound more like research historians and students (who don’t use research journals that much anyway) rather than the active researchers for whom the annual 2.5 million articles are primarily written, and who need them for their ongoing research *immediately* and not after an embargo period that is (almost) as undesirable and every bit as unnecessary as the toll-access that was the sole option in paper days.

    CB: This is not to say that we shouldn’t strive for journals to move up the spectrum from red to green

    By which you mean move from toll access journals (95%) up to open access journals (5%) — having entirely lost sight of the original green and its vistas, with 92% of journals green, hence 92% of articles potentially accessible online immediately, toll-free.

    CB: but it is to say that: (1) some free access is better than no free access for journals that will never move further up the spectrum, and (2) it may be that some journals have to move step-by-step, not in one leap, for the change to take place, and, if they start higher, it may be easier to encourage them to move further and faster. (But we have to know which ones have this potential based on their current status.)

    Because of your preoccupation with the 3 P’s, you appear to have forgotten about OA, and focussed exclusively on OA publishing (Gold!). But the Gold Rush is over. The 5% Gold is not (and never was) going to rise to 100% within the foreseeable future on its own momentum. Whereas the 15% Green is indeed poised to rise to at least 92% (if we don’t obscure this fact with a particolored brush that has nothing to do with OA). The first depends on what publishers do; the second depends on what researchers do.

    CB: Stevan’s model has colors, but, in reality, each color is black and white: Gold and nothing, GREEN and grey. All or nothing.

    I couldn’t follow that! How did two more colors (black and white) get into this, except in the sense of the two Artistotelean truth values T(rue) and F(alse), which are indeed black or white: Something either is Gold or it is not Gold. Something either is Green or it is not Green. (For technical and logical reasons, as I said, Green and Gold are not mutually exclusive, because all Gold journals are, a fortiori, Green. So that’s not B/W T/F: a journal can be both Green and Gold.) And Gray is just for the rest, the complement: neither Green nor Gold.

    That’s the actual OA journal situation, and OA itself is all-or-nothing (at the article level: clearly with “Open Choice” there can be journals that are part Gold), and that is because of the immediate/permanent/full-text clauses. If there were degrees of OA-ness, then a journal that made its contents free after 100 years would be an OA journal of a certain OA degree/color; so would a journal that made its contents free for one day only; and a journal that made every fifth page free.

    This is all nonsense. This is not what researchers need; it’s not what authors want. And it is not what is really possible and within reach. It is just a book-keeping taxonomy for those who are minding their P’s rather than taking their cues from research, researchers, and their real needs.

    CB: And, as long as you accept his premises, it works, and it allows him to focus on his free-access goal with single minded determination, undistracted by the knotted complexities of the e-scholarly publishing environment. Long may he run.

    Allows me to focus on research and researchers’ needs, and the reachable goal of 100% OA, rather than being distracted by the library community’s worthy but irrelevant (to OA) preoccupation with Pricing, Permissions and Preservation!

    Stevan Harnad

    http://amsci-forum.amsci.org/archives/American-Scientist-Ope n-Access-Forum.html

  2. In spite of my saying that I would give Stevan the last word, I’ll add one clarification: It was not my intent to imply that Stevan had not made major tangible contributions to OA in the form of his many invaluable software and other projects. Nor was I trying to imply that Stevan had not made major theoretical or other contributions to OA, or that OA was not "real work." Nothing could be further from the truth. Since my posting can be read that way, I offer my apologies.

  3. Thank you very much, Charles, for the new color sheme. I appreciate the model and your pragmatic viewpoint. For sure, it’s not that easy to get 100% Open Access and nobody knows how long it will take if ever. But in the meantime people are literally crying for instant access to – especially health related – peer-reviewed information. Of course, as a reference librarian I will point them to every route and trick getting the articles they need – without any judgement. From experience as a acquisition librarian, I’m prepared for sudden changes in copyright, archival access, and overall policies of publishers – not to mention mergers, bankruptcy, and price increases (yes, price IS an issue in getting access!).

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