Not True that AAAS Does Not Advance Open Access

Re: “AAAS Chooses Not To Advance Open Access”
by Jon Tenant & Erin McKiernan
in The Conversation & Science 2.0

“Why easier for researchers to rant about publishers not doing right OA thing
than to do right OA thing?

Master Basho (old Zen Koan)

There are two ways to provide Open Access (OA): (1) Publishing in an OA journal (“Gold OA”) or (2) publishing in a subscription journal (like AAAS’s Science) and self-archiving the article by depositing the final refereed draft in the author’s institutional repository immediately upon acceptance for publication (“Green OA”).

There are two kinds (or degrees) of OA: free online access (“Gratis OA”) and free online access plus certain re-use rights (“Libre OA”).

What funders and institutions are mandating is Green Gratis OA; not Gold OA. And they are only recommending, not requiring, Libre OA.

60% of journals endorse immediate, unembargoed Green Gratis OA. 40% of journals embargo OA.

The journals that do not embargo Green Gratis OA are the 60% that are advancing OA. (They are “on the side of the angels” regarding OA.)

All the AAAS journals, including Science, are on the side of the angels. They do not embargo immediate Green Gratis OA.

In contrast, Nature used to be — but is no longer — on the side of the angels: it embargoes Green Gratis OA for 6 months. (Many journals embargo it for 12 months; some even longer.)

It is both untrue and extremely unproductive (for OA — both Gratis and Libre) to describe a publisher that is on the side of the angels for Green Gratis OA as one that “does not advance Open Access.”

Once it is universally mandated by all research institutions and funders, Green Gratis OA will be universally provided. That is (Gratis) OA: online access to all peer-reviewed journal articles, not just for subscribers, but free for all.

Global Green Gratis OA will in turn lead to journal cancellations and a conversion of all journals to Libre Gold OA, at a fair price (“Fair Gold“) paid out of the subscription cancellation windfall savings.

But Global Green Gratis OA is being held back by publisher embargoes.

To chastise AAAS as “not advancing Open Access” even though AAAS endorses immediate, unembargoed Gratis Green OA is to encourage publishers to embargo OA because they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.


Jon Tennant’s field of geology (and several other fields) would benefit from Libre OA. In contrast, endorsing immediate Libre OA (which includes the right of a 3rd-party rival publisher to free-ride on and undercut the primary publisher’s content, immediately, inducing immediate cancellations) is something it is quite understandable that a publisher would not want to do today: Better to wait for Global Green Gratis OA to be reached gradually via mandates, and all journals having to convert to Libre Fair-Gold, rather than having to do it pre-emptively, alone, today.

So please have patience and encourage institutions and funders to mandate Green Gratis OA rather than encouraging publishers to embargo it, by implying that if a publisher does not allow immediate Libre OA, it is slowing progress toward OA.

What is slowing progress toward OA is just the slowness of institutions and funders to mandate it (and hence the slowness of their authors to provide it).

To deprecate publishers that endorse immediate, unembargoed Gratis Green OA is to further slow the progress of OA.

Harnad, S. (2007) The Green Road to Open Access: A Leveraged Transition. In: Anna Gacs. The Culture of Periodicals from the Perspective of the Electronic Age. L?Harmattan. 99-106.

______ (2010) No-Fault Peer Review Charges: The Price of Selectivity Need Not Be Access Denied or Delayed. D-Lib Magazine 16 (7/8).

______ (2013) The Postgutenberg Open Access Journal. In, Cope, B and Phillips, A (eds.) The Future of the Academic Journal (2nd edition). Chandos.