The Fool’s Gold Rush Plods On…

Comment on: Enserink, Martin (2016) E.U. urged to free all scientific papers by 2020. Science 14 April 2016.

Fool?s Gold is pre-Green Gold (pay-to-publish Gold: I?m not, of course, referring to that tiny minority of journals that are Free Gold today because they are either (i) subsidized or (ii) their subscription publisher makes the online version free for all).

The reasons it is Fool?s Gold are four:

(1) its cost is vastly inflated with the cost of obsolete features with which it is co-bundled, such as the print edition and publisher PDF,

(2) as long as most journals are still subscription journals, the author?s institution is paying for both subscriptions and for Fool?s Gold,

(3) in the case of (the growing number of) hybrid subscription/Gold journals (accessible to subscribers only, but individual Fool?s Gold articles are free for all if they have been paid for by the author) the same publisher is being double-paid for Fool?s Gold articles (subscriptions from subscribing institutions plus Fool?s Gold from individual authors)

and, most important:

(4) OA can be provided at no extra cost to anyone via Green OA self-archiving of the author’s peer-reviewed, accepted final draft (with immediate OA or immediate-deposit plus Button-mediated OA if the author chooses to comply with a publisher OA embargo)

Fair Gold is post-green Gold: That is the greatly reduced price of Gold after Green OA has been globally mandated (along the lines of what the HEFCE REF policy is doing):

(a) Immediate deposit in the institutional repository is mandated by all research institutions and funders
(b) Mandatory Green OA is provided universally
(c) Journal subscriptions can then be cancelled by institutions
(d) Journals are then forced to cut all obsolete costs by phasing out the print edition, the PDF edition (the publisher’s “version of record”), archiving and access-provision and down-sizing to the only remaining essential in the Fair Gold OA era: just providing the service of peer review (the peers all review for free and always have_
(e) The green eprint becomes the version of record

The cost of this Fair Gold, which is just for peer review and, if accepted, certification with the journal name, will thus be affordable and sustainable (hence fair) because it can be paid out of just a fraction of the annual institutional windfall savings from having at last been able to cancel all journal subscriptions because of universal accessibility via Green OA.

The institutionally archived Green OA author final-drafts then become the official version of record. No more publisher?s version.

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

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

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.)

Harnad, Stevan (2015) Open Access: What, Where, When, How and Why In: Ethics, Science, Technology, and Engineering: An International Resource eds. J. Britt Holbrook & Carl Mitcham, (2nd edition of Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics, Farmington Hills MI: MacMillan Reference)

Harnad, Stevan (2015) Optimizing Open Access Policy. The Serials Librarian, 69(2), 133-141