Much Ado About Gold Compliance: What About Green Compliance?

Comment on: UK research funders announce grants for open-access publishing (Richard Van Noorden, Nature)

First, a correction: Gold vs. Green does not mean immediate Gold OA from the publisher vs. delayed Green OA from the author?s institutional repository. Most Green OA (60%) is immediate OA too. And for the 40% that is embargoed by publishers, repositories have the ?Almost OA? Button.

Second, that 60% vs 40% refers to Green OA, whose worldwide UNmandated annual average is about 25% today. So that?s 60%/40% of 25% or about 16% immediate Green OA and 8% Almost-OA globally today.

Now to RCUK: As Richard notes, even the old, weak RCUK mandate, with no compliance assurance mechanism, did better than the worldwide average.

Evidence has since shown that strong mandates provide much higher Green OA rates (over 70% within two years).

Hence the RCUK, in wasting scarce research money on Gold instead of strengthening its compliance assurance mechanism for cost-free Green OA, would be designing a self-fulfilling prophecy. This would fail, because most UK researchers would rightly refuse to comply with Gold and the rest of the world (funders as well as universities) is meanwhile mandating Green.

A European Green OA Mandate may help restore RCUK to its senses and put it back on a realistic path to 100% OA, focused on research interests instead of publishing interests.

Stevan Harnad