Please Don’t Conflate Green and Gold OA

At the Students for a Free Culture Conference, Lawrence Lessig advised students, on “Remix Culture“:

I think the obvious, low-hanging-fruit fight for the Students for Free Culture movement right now is to start having sit-ins in universities where they don?t adopt Open Access publishing rules. It?s ridiculous that scholars publish articles in journals that then charge 5, 10, 15 thousand dollars for people around the world to get access to it.”

It may just be because of the wrong choice of words (“Open Access publishing rules”), but as stated, this does not sound like the right advice to give to students on what to do to help persuade universities to provide Open Access to their refereed research journal article output, nor does it correspond with what is being mandated by the 28 pioneer universities and departments (including Harvard and Stanford, and 30 research funders, including NIH) that have actually mandated OA.

As noted in Larry’s link, OA is

free, immediate, permanent, full-text, online access, for any user, web-wide… primarily [to] research articles published in peer-reviewed journals.

But that OA can be provided by two means:

“Gold OA” publishing (authors publishing in journals that make their articles free online, sometimes at a fee to the author/university)


“Green OA” self-archiving (authors publishing articles in whatever journals they choose, but depositing their final refereed draft in their university’s institutional repository to make it free online)

The 28 pioneering universities/departments (and 30 funders) have all mandated Green OA (mandatory deposit), but Larry seems to be advocating that students strike for mandating Gold OA (mandatory publishing in a Gold OA journal).

Please see

The University?s Mandate to Mandate Open Access

on the Open Students: Students for Open Access to Research blog, where I have tried to describe what students can do to help persuade universities to provide Open Access to their refereed research journal article output.

Stevan Harnad
American Scientist Open Access Forum