The Implications of the Green Open Access REF Policy

Comments on “What would be the implications of a ?gold? Open Access REF policy? (Ben Johnson, HEFCE)

BJ: ?this post ignores ? the commonly heard prediction that universal green OA will somehow deliver a sustainable gold OA future all on its own?

Let me spell out exactly how and why pre-green gold OA is fool?s gold — unaffordable and unsustainable — and how universal green OA will deliver a sustainable gold OA future in the form of post-green fair-gold:

1. Pre-green gold is arbitrarily and hugely over-priced. (We will see how and why shortly.)

2. Payment for pre-green gold is double payment: (i) subscription fees for incoming papers plus (ii) gold fees for outgoing papers. (Must-have subscription journals cannot be cancelled by an institution until their articles are accessible to users in some other way.)

3. On top of that, paying the same “hybrid gold” journal (both subscription and optional gold) for pre-green hybrid gold also allows publisher double-dipping.

4. Even if the pre-green hybrid gold publisher promises all N of its subscribing institutions a full rebate on all hybrid gold income, that only means that (N-1)N of whatever hybrid gold any institution pays for its outgoing hybrid gold papers becomes a subsidy to all the other N-1 subscribing institutions: The institution only gets back 1/Nth of its hybrid gold outlay. (The UK, for example, would get back a 6% subscription rebate for its hybrid gold outlay; the rest of the UK hybrid gold outlay would become a rebate to the other 94% of subscribing institutions in the countries that were not foolish enough to pay pre-emptively for pre-green gold.)

5. Research funds are scarce, subscriptions are barely affordable, and pre-green gold payment is completely unnecessary, because green OA can be provided at no extra cost. (Institutional repositories already exist anyway, for multiple purposes, so their cost per paper is negligible, particularly compared to the grotesque cost per paper for pre-green gold.)

6. CC-BY is most definitely not worth the extra cost of pre-green gold ? and CC-BY will come soon after universal green prevails. (We will see how and why shortly.)

7. Publisher embargoes on green are ineffectual because of the repositories? copy-request Button (if the paper was mandatorily deposited immediately upon acceptance for publication, exactly as HEFCE requires).

8. So post-green ? i.e., once immediate-deposit green has been mandated and provided universally, by all institutions and funders, as HEFCE has done — institutions can at last cancel their journal subscriptions, because their users can access the content another way..

9. The post-green unsustainability of subscriptions will force publishers to cut publishing costs that have been made obsolete by the post-green OA era: Publishers will be forced to phase out the print edition, the online edition, access-provision and archiving: these functions will now be offloaded onto the distributed global network of green OA institutional repositories.

10. To cover the remaining post-green cost of peer-reviewed journal publishing ? peer review itself ? post-green journals will convert to affordable, sustainable fair gold, which institutions will easily pay, per outgoing paper, out of a fraction of their windfall subscription cancelation savings on incoming papers.

In other words, post-green, subscriptions will be gone, embargoes will be gone, and all OA will be CC-BY (where desired).

BJ: ?Would repositories disappear in a gold OA world? No, they?re still useful for theses etc. Monitoring would continue to be necessary for any OA policy.?

In the Post-green fair-gold OA world there will no longer be any need to monitor OA policy. But there will certainly be a need for the worldwide network of green OA repositories ? to provide access and archving in place of the pre-green subscription journals.

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______ (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 (revised). In, Cope, B and Phillips, A (eds.) The Future of the Academic Journal (2nd edition). 2nd edition of book Chandos.

______ (2014) The only way to make inflated journal subscriptions unsustainable: Mandate Green Open Access. LSE Impact of Social Sciences Blog 4/28

Houghton, J. & Swan, A. (2013) Planting the Green Seeds for a Golden Harvest: Comments and Clarifications on “Going for Gold”. D-Lib Magazine 19 (1/2).

Sale, A., Couture, M., Rodrigues, E., Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2014) Open Access Mandates and the “Fair Dealing” Button. In: Dynamic Fair Dealing: Creating Canadian Culture Online (Rosemary J. Coombe & Darren Wershler, Eds.)