Swapping Subscriptions for Hybrid Gold "Memberships": A Trojan Horse from the Royal Society of Chemistry

The seemingly selfless offer from the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) to pay £1 million in hybrid Gold OA fees for its authors at institutions that subscribe to all the RSC’s 72 journals is in reality a totally self-interested strategy for locking in RSC’s current publishing revenue streams should the research community prove foolish enough to seek OA via the slow and costly route of paying pre-emptively for Gold OA instead of providing cost-free Green OA by self-archiving their refereed final drafts free for all online.

The hybrid Gold “membership/transition” strategy is not new: The same Trojan Horse offer has been made by Springer (but with little uptake) for a few years now, with a promise to lower subscription fees “proportionately” as hybrid Gold uptake rises.

The irony is doubled (and along with it the foolishness of researchers who fall for this option) by the fact that both RSC and Springer have already formally recognized their authors’ right to provide immediate, unembargoed Green OA. See: SHERPA/ROMEO

Stevan Harnad