Green, Gold, Elsevier, Springer

Stevan Harnad harnad at
Sun Oct 3 11:18:23 EST 2004

On Sat, 2 Oct 2004, Peter Murray-Rust wrote:

> I feel that the current colour system, while a useful
> general label for a publisher or journal is not sufficiently precise
> to encourage (or even allow) most authors to self-archive with
> confidence. In fact two different co-authoring colleagues have felt
> unhappy that even with a publisher labelled as "green" they were not
> prepared to self-archive for risk of conflicting with publishers' actual
> legal requirements.

There is no accounting (or antidote) for irrational beliefs! If the
publisher saying "go ahead and self-archive" is not enough for an author,
I would suggest that that author be given up as too hopelessly out of
touch to be reached in time for his research impact to benefit from the
online age! (Perhaps it can still happen posthumously!)

> Here is a typical example from a "Gold" journal. I have removed the journal
> and publisher's name but it is on the SOROS/BOAI list.

Why remove the name if the policy and name are already online? (Is this
the form of supererogatory -- one might almost call it superstitious! --
caution that is at work here?)

>     Reprints
>     Printed reprints may be ordered at a nominal cost. Electronic files
>     of the published papers (e-reprint) can be distributed by the authors
>     for noncommercial purposes.
> and in each paper:
>     2004 by XXX Reproduction is permitted for noncommercial purposes.
> In my opinion this violates the letter and the spirit of the BOAI. Because
> of my commitment to OA I have written to the publisher and asked for
> clarification. If this list agrees on my interpretation the publisher
> cannot continue to call themselves an OA Gold journal. However this
> label will be so firmly embedded in ROMEO, the publishers' rubric,
> etc. that I am sure it will remain labelled as such.

I am lost, unfortunately! Neither the SHERPA version (publishers) of the
Romeo Self-Archiving Policy list
nor the version (journals)
includes Gold in its colour code (although the SHERPA version still
contains far too many colours)! 

Gold is the colour of Open Access Journals, and these are listed in the
Directory of Open Access Journals:

A Gold journal is more than Green (though it is Green too!): It provides
OA to that author's article directly. Green journals simply give their
authors the green light to do so themselves, if they wish, by self-archiving

Without knowing which publisher you are referring to above, I cannot even
say what their self-archiving policy is, but if the journal is green,
it means they encourage their authors to self-archive their own articles
online, if they wish.

If this is a Gold (OA) publisher, then they provide the OA to all the
articles themselves. If the publisher provides immediate, permanent,
free, full-text, online access to all the articles they publish, there
is no contradiction whatsoever with the BOAI definition of OA and OA
publishing. There is no stipulation about the print edition. It is moot.

> For part of the authors' submission - the supplemental data - it is worse.
> I know that for some of this list only "full text" is published but for
> many scientists the supplemental data (without which the paper is not
> allowed to be published) is at least or even more important. In the
> present case the publisher sends the data to a data aggregator which
> releases it with the following added copyright notice (I quote part and
> gently anonymise the source)
> This [data] is provided on the understanding that it is used for bona
> fide research purposes only. It may contain copyright material of [the
> data aggregator] or of third parties, and may not be copied or further
> disseminated in any form, whether machine-readable or not, except for the
> purpose of generating routine backup copies on your local computer system.
> The material redistributed by the aggregator is (AFAIK) the verbatim
> submission of the author except for the addition of the aggregator's
> rubric. AFAIK the authors have not assigned copyright to the aggregator
> (though they have been told that their material will be deposited with
> them) In my view this is incompatible with a publisher's status as a
> "Gold" publisher.

The BOAI definition of OA not only does not stipulate what the OA (gold) publisher
can or cannot do with the print edition of his journal -- targeting only the
online version edition -- but it does not stipulate what anyone (publisher or
author) can or cannot do with what is *not* published in the journal (e.g.,
the data).

In this case, it appears that the author has provided the data to the publisher,
who has passed them on to a non-OA database provider. That is fine. It does not
make the journal non-OA. Moreover, the author is free to also pass the data on to
an OA database provider -- or to self-archive them in his institutional OA
archive, alongside the article itself.

So what is the problem?

> I hope that this is an interim problem but I have a fear similar to other
> list members that we shall end up with such a diversity or approaches
> and licenses that the colour-labelling is almost useless. 

None of this has anything to do with either OA, OA Publishing, or the
Gold/Green/Gray code, as far as I can see!

> Some points:
> - I personally do not know where the definitive colour statement about
> a publisher is to be found. It seems that the ROMEO site is not updated
> (at least not to news announced on this list) and that its colour scheme
> is in conflict with the Harnad scheme. 

The SHERPA/Romeo and Eprints/Romeo colour schemes are different, but they are not
in *conflict*: The SHERPA version contains far too many colours (white, blue,
yellow, green, red, gray),

and makes far too many irrelevant distinctions that are only of interest
to acquisitions librarians and IP officers; they serve only to create
confusion for would-be self-archivers who merely want to know whether or
not a particular journal gives its green light to self-archiving their
preprint (pale-green) or postprint (bright-green).

The version drops all the useless distinctions and retains only
the relevant ones, for self-archivers: Green and Gray. Neither list
includes Gold, because it is relevant to OA but not relevant to self-archiving,
as all articles in Gold journals are already OA (though they can of course
also be self-archived in the author's own institutional archive too, and should
be!). The BMC OA (gold) journals are hence listed as Green in the Romeo listings,
because for self-archiving purposes that is what they are.

> I had assumed until recently that the spectrum was yellow, blue and green,
> but a published announced that it was using the Harnad definition from
> this list where "pale-green" and "bright-green" appear to be used.

The only two colours in the version are green and gray. The
two shades of green indicate whether the publisher has given the green light
to self-archive the postprint (pale green) or the postprint (bright green).

> The announcement on this list that the
> Royal Society of Chemistry was now a "green" publisher does not therefore,
> in itself, indicate how and when we can self-archive. Despite the
> uncertainty we have, in fact, self-archived at the address given above.

The trouble there is that the RSC has not yet published its new
self-archiving policy, although it has already voted on and adopted
it. Dr. Peter Gregory, RSC Director of Publishing, publicly announced
that all RSC authors are now welcome to self-archive their articles, but he
said it would be a little while before the official policy document was
formalized. That's the reason for the delay.

> - I proposed self-archiving to two other colleagues and pointed them to the
> announcement on this list. They were unconvinced and are, so far, unwilling
> to allow our joint manuscripts to be self-archived until there is a clear
> statement from the publisher indicating precisely what can/not be done. I
> attempted to use the ROMEO site as indication but it had not been updated.

It seems to me that if this abstemiousness were based on reflection and reason,
rather than reflex and superstition, all that needs to be confirmed is that others
than myself heard Dr. Gregory's public announcement at the American Chemical
Society meeting!

That would be enough to take care of any rational fears of litigation; but, as
noted already, there's no accounting or antidote for irrational fears...

(By the way, of the quarter of a million articles self-archived by the
sensible physicists -- who have been doing so for a decade and a half
without bothering to wait for any "green lights" from anyone -- only 4
have been removed citing publisher/copyright reasons -- and those might just
have been symptoms of the phobia discussed earlier!)

> It is likely therefore that even if every publisher were "green"
> there can be copyright Fear Uncertainty and Doubt that discourages
> authors. Most will, I suspect, simply continue to sign whatever copyright
> form is offered by publishers. Most are unwilling or unable to challenge
> publisher's copyright or practices.

I think (or rather hope!) that Peter is being unduly pessimistic about
the epidemiology and extent of the form of intractable phobia he is
here discussing.

> Has the OA community considered creating their own license system and
> persuading publishers to adopt this? I use the analogy of OpenSource
> under which I publish most of my software. 

The analogy is an incorrect and misleading one. Software may or may not be an
author give-away, whereas peer-reviewed journal articles all are, always.

       "On the Deep Disanalogy Between Text and Software and
       Between Text and Data Insofar as Free/Open Access is Concerned"

The Creative Commons License is of course desirable and welcome, if and
when it can be successfully agreed between author and publisher. But it
definitely is not a necessary condition for self-archiving, and to imply
that it is, and to abstain from self-archiving until/unless a CC License
is successfully agreed is unnecessary, irrational, and would only serve
to further delay the 100% OA that is already fully within reach.

    "Apercus of WOS Meeting: Making Ends Meet in the Creative Commons"

> May I publicly thank the help that I have been given by my Institutional
> repository colleagues. However it appears that I am the first person
> within the institution to request the self-archiving of a peer-reviewed
> manuscript and this points out the enormous amount of work required in
> the future.

Bravo for taking the step! More help is on the way, both in the form of
much-needed information, and in the form of a much-needed self-archiving
mandate, such as the ones under consideration in the UK and the US:

Stevan Harnad

More information about the Jrnlnote mailing list