How many journals sell authors Open Access by the article?
harnad at ecs.soton.ac.uk
Wed Jul 7 12:48:21 EST 2004
Open Access (OA) is extremely simple, yet it is also extremely
easy to misunderstand: In an article in the Independent on July 7,
"Pressure mounts on Reed to open access to science work"
the new "open choice" policy of the second biggest scientific
journal publisher, Springer/Kluwer, is described as increasing
the pressure on the biggest scientific publisher, Reed/Elsevier.
But increasing the pressure to do what, and why?
Reed/Elsevier, like Springer/Kluwer, has already become a "green"
publisher in response to pressure for OA from the world research
community. Open Access means that all would-be users of a journal
article should be able to access an online version of it for free
webwide. The reason researchers want Open Access to their findings
is research impact: They no longer want any researcher to be unable
to use and build upon their work because their institution does not
happen to be able to afford the access-tolls for the journal in which
it is published. OA maximises research progress and productivity,
and both Springer/Kluwer and Reed/Elsevier have recognised this by
giving their authors the "green light" to self-archive their articles,
free for all, on their institution's website.
There is something more that both publishers could have done for the
sake of OA, but it must be stated that this further step is not
a necessary one, in order for research to enjoy 100% OA and its
benefits immediately. Becoming green is as much as a publisher need
do to confirm its support for OA and to maximise the research impact of
its articles; but the publisher could also become "gold": it could
convert to OA publishing, in which it is not the user-institution
that pays the publication costs per journal subscribed to but the
author-institution that pays, per article published.
Out of the 24,000 journals published today, about 5% are gold,
80% are green, and 15% are "gray" (i.e., they have not yet
given their green light to author self-archiving).
Becoming gold entails some risk: because it is new, because it is
not yet tested whether the cost-recovery model will work in the
long-term, and because institutional funds are still 95% tied up
in the subscription costs for the green and gray journals. There
may eventually be a transition to gold; Springer/Kluwer's "open
choice" policy is intended to offer authors and their institutions the
choice now: Authors can either pay the publisher $3000 to make their
articles OA for them, or they can make their articles OA themselves,
by self-archiving them. (Gold journals charge the author-institution
between $500 and $1500 per article.)
So the only difference is that Springer/Kluwer offers authors
the choice of paying for OA and Reed/Elsevier does not. Reed may
eventually offer this choice too (not because of pressure, but to
provide more options); there is, however, certainly no need for
authors who desire the benefits of OA right now to wait until they
can pay their publishers to provide it for them. They can already
do it themselves, with a few keystrokes, for free, today.
If you have adopted or plan to adopt an institutional policy of providing
Open Access to your own research article output, please describe your
UNIFIED 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.
AMERICAN SCIENTIST OPEN ACCESSS FORUM:
A complete Hypermail archive of the ongoing discussion of providing
open access to the peer-reviewed research literature online (1998-2004)
is available at:
To join the Forum:
Post discussion to:
american-scientist-open-access-forum at amsci.org
More information about the Jrnlnote