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[BOAI] Re: Origin of "green" and "gold" OA -- and of "fair" and "fool's" gold

From: Stevan Harnad <harnad AT>
Date: Mon, 22 Apr 2013 07:14:07 -0400

Threading: [BOAI] word origin of "green" and "gold" from ssugita AT
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On 2013-04-21, at 11:37 PM, Shigeki Sugita <ssugita AT> wrote:

> As for "green",

>> "an ecological, self-help solution"

> seems satisfactory and conclusive!
> [But] why is OA journals publishing named "gold", not red, blue, 
white, etc??

In retrospect, it was perhaps a mistake to dub OA journal publishing the 
"golden road" to OA, with its unintended connotations of prmacy or 
instead of, say, the "yellow road," in parity with the "green 
road" of self-archiving. 

That might have avoided the many lost years of premature gold fever, gold rush 
and fool's gold.

All I can say is that in my own mind it was (and is) completely obvious that
global green OA through mandated self-archiving must come first, before the 
to gold OA pubishing. It is green self-archiving that will not only prepare the 
way and
hasten the transition, but it will also force peer-reviewed journal publishing 
downsize to its sole remaining essential function in the OA age, namely, peer 

By first making OA itself universal, along with its benefits, while 
subscriptions are
still paying all publication costs in full, green OA self-archiving in 
repositories, once it is at
or near 100% globally,  makes it possible for institutions to cancel journal 

This in turn puts pressure -- and may be the only force that can put pressure 
on journal publishers to cut obsolete costs by unbundling and phasing out the 
and services that global green OA makes unnecessary: the print edition, the 
proprietary online edition, access-provision and archiving. 

All of that is replaced by the global network of mandated OA repositories, 
leaving only each 
journal's service of peer review to be provided and paid for, at a fair, 
sustainable price,
out of the institutional journal subscription cancelation savings. 

(And even the much lower price of the peer review service alone can and will be 
still further
reduced by making it a (low) "no-fault" charge for the refereeing 
itself, irrespective of outcome, 
thereby unbundling the cost of rejected articles from the cost of accepted 

Instead, we are today still flirting with paying publishers pre-emptively for 
gold at today's
gold OA asking price without first providing green OA, which means 
double-paying for 
uncancellable institutional subscriptions at the same time as paying  for gold 
OA at an 
inflated price (not to mention double-dipping by hybrid subscription/gold
publishers), thereby allowing publishers to set the price and the timetable for 
gold OA.

I do not believe, however, that the absurd pass we have come to today -- with 
the UK,
the former global leader in mandating green OA, now preferentially mandating
gold OA, with all its perverse consequences of double-payment, depriving 
author's of
the freedom to choose their journals, imposing unwanted licenses on them, and 
publishers to offer hybrid gold and adopt and extend green OA embargoes in 
order to force 
authors to choose and pay for this fool's gold -- was simply the result of the 
connotations of 
a color term. 

There are at least 38 other reasons why authors have been so slow to 
and they even have a name: "Zeno's Paralysis."

The cure is known, however, and that is for research institutions and funders
worldwide to mandate green OA self-archiving.

And, thankfully, they seem at long last to be getting around to doing it, 
better late than neverů

Once mandatory green OA has prevailed globally, and goes on to force a 
to fair gold, "gold" will have earned the extra connotations of its 

Stevan Harnad

On 2013-04-21, at 11:37 PM, Shigeki Sugita <ssugita AT> wrote:

> Dear Jean-Claude and Stevan,
> Thank you for explaining.
> Days ago, one of my colleagues here in Japan asked me if gold OA is the 
royal road in highest grade over all flavors of OA.
> He wondered so by analogy to "Gold Medals".
> I could not answered to it with clarity.
> So I'd like to know furthermore, not their definitions but the etymology 
of the words.
> As for "green",
>> an ecological, self-help solution
> it seems satisfactory and conclusive!
> Then, why is OA journals publishing named "gold", not red, blue, 
white, etc?
> Shigeki
> (2013/04/19 21:32), Stevan Harnad wrote:
>> On 2013-04-18, at 11:59 PM, Shigeki Sugita <ssugita AT 
<mailto: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 contents.
>>        *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 
>> *
>> *
>> None of this has anything to do with "highest grade" or 
"Gold Medals".
>> 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 
>> Stevan Harnad
>> --
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> -- 
> Shigeki Sugita <ssugita AT>
> Chiba University Library, Japan
> --      
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