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[BOAI] Origin of "green" and "gold" OA

From: Stevan Harnad <harnad AT>
Date: Fri, 19 Apr 2013 08:32:24 -0400

Threading: [BOAI] word origin of "green" and "gold" from ssugita AT
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On 2013-04-18, at 11:59 PM, Shigeki Sugita <ssugita AT> wrote:

> Someone please teach me about the original meanings or implications of 
"green" and "gold" at the time of the first BOAI 
recommendation. Why was self-archving named as "green" and OA 
journals as "gold"?
> green: green light? "RoMEO-green"?
> gold: highest grade? (like "Gold Medal")

The original BOAI in 2002 consisted of two strategies, BOAI-1 and BOAI-2:
To achieve open access to scholarly journal literature, we recommend two 
complementary strategies. 

I.  Self-Archiving: First, scholars need the tools and assistance to deposit 
their refereed journal articles in open electronic archives, a practice 
commonly called, self-archiving. When these archives conform to standards 
created by the Open Archives Initiative, then search engines and other tools 
can treat the separate archives as one. Users then need not know which archives 
exist or where they are located in order to find and make use of their 

II.  Open-access Journals: Second, scholars need the means to launch a new 
generation of journals committed to open access, and to help existing journals 
that elect to make the transition to open access. Because journal articles 
should be disseminated as widely as possible, these new journals will no longer 
invoke copyright to restrict access to and use of the material they publish. 
Instead they will use copyright and other tools to ensure permanent open access 
to all the articles they publish. Because price is a barrier to access, these 
new journals will not charge subscription or access fees, and will turn to 
other methods for covering their expenses. There are many alternative sources 
of funds for this purpose, including the foundations and governments that fund 
research, the universities and laboratories that employ researchers, endowments 
set up by discipline or institution, friends of the cause of open access, 
profits from the sale of add-ons to the basic texts, funds freed up by the 
demise or cancellation of journals charging traditional subscription or access 
fees, or even contributions from the researchers themselves. There is no need 
to favor one of these solutions over the others for all disciplines or nations, 
and no need to stop looking for other, creative alternatives.

These were then dubbed Green OA and Gold OA, respectively, in 2004:

Harnad, S., Brody, T., Vallieres, F., Carr, L., Hitchcock, S., Gingras, Y, 
Oppenheim, C., Stamerjohanns, H., & Hilf, E. (2004) The Access/Impact 
Problem and the Green and Gold Roads to Open Access. Serials Review 30.  
Shorter version: The green and the gold roads to Open Access. Nature Web Focus. 

None of this has anything to do with "highest grade" or "Gold 

And SHERPA Romeo's colour-code is regrettably (but incorrigibly, despite 
repeated requests across the years) at odds with the BOAI distinction, because 
it arbitrarily restricts "green" to publishers who endorse the 
self-archiving of both unrefereed preprints and refereed postprints, and 
"blue" for publishers who endorse the self-archiving of regereed 
postprints only, but not preprints: Both SHERPA/Romeo "green" and 
SHERPA/Romeo "blue" are of course BOAI Green.

Metaphorically, one can say that Green OA is an ecological, self-help solution, 
on the part of the research community. Gold OA is a "de luxe" 
solution that also depends on the conversion of publishers to another 
cost-recovery model.

My own view is that Globally Green OA mandates will first provide 100% OA and 
then induce publishers to convert to Gold OA (at a fair price: Fair Gold).
Stevan Harnad

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