More on the kinds of OA, and the ways of delivering it

Gideon Burton, The Coming Change in Humanities Publishing (6): Open Access, Gideon Burton’s Blog, December 12, 2008.  Excerpt:

…Open Access means that a digital work is available for free and without those licensing or copyright restrictions that would limit its reuse. If you are unfamiliar with Open Access, there are many sources for getting up to speed–especially Peter Suber’s Open Access site.  Or see my detailed PowerPoint on Open Access (via Slideshare)….

Conventional publishing is a restricted-access paradigm based on the limits of print publishing. To recoup the costs of print publishing, a payment by the interested reader (to a publisher for a book or to a journal for a subscription) has been required to get to the information. Open Access eliminates the cost for access altogether and shifts the costs for preparing publications from the point of distribution to the point of production.

So here’s how it works. Instead of individuals or institutions forking out $25 for an article or up to $20,000/year for a journal subscription (not kidding), readers pay nothing to read the publication in question. Instead, the individual author (or his/her granting agency or host institution) pays an Open Access fee in order to get his/her work published. The fee could be $300 or $3000 (depending on the discipline, subventions, etc.)….[PS:  Most of the time it is zero, since the majority of OA journals charge no fees.]

There are two ways to publish your work as Open Access. The first is to publish in a traditional journal that offers authors the opportunity to publish their work as Open Access (for a fee)….The second way to publish humanities scholarship as Open Access is to submit work directly to an Open Access journal….In the next two posts I will look at the role of repositories as a publishing outlet (not simply an archive)….

Also see Stevan Harnad’s comments:

(1) Two Kinds of OA: Gratis and Libre: There are two kinds of Open Access (OA) — "gratis" (free online access) and "libre" (free online access plus certain re-use rights) — but Gideon Burton seems to be writing about OA as if there were only one kind ("libre"). (See: "Open Access: ‘Gratis’ and ‘Libre’")

The gratis/libre distinction matters a lot, because it is critical to the strategy for successfully achieving OA (of either kind) at all. There is still very little OA today, but most of what OA there is is gratis, not libre. The fastest and surest way to achieve 100% OA is for universities and funders to mandate OA, and they are at last beginning to do so. But universities and funders can (and hence should) only mandate gratis OA, not libre OA….

(2) Two Ways to Reach 100% OA: The Golden Road and the Green Road: There are two roads to 100% OA, the "golden road" of authors publishing in OA journals and the "green road" of authors publishing in conventional journals but also self-archiving their articles in their own Institutional Repositories (IRs) to make them OA….

The green/gold distinction matters even more than the gratis/libre distinction, because Green OA can be mandated by universities and funders, whereas gold OA cannot. Moreover, most journals already have a green (63%) or pale-green (32%) policy on author OA self-archiving, whereas only about 15% of journals are gold OA journals, and the rest cannot be mandated by universities and funders to convert….

PS:  Also see my own discussion of the gratis/libre distinction and the differences between the gratis/libre and green/gold distinctions.