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Re: The Spectrum of E-Journal Access Policies: Open to RestrictedAccess

On Sun, 15 May 2005, Charles W. Bailey, Jr. wrote:

>  From the 5/13/05 DigitalKoans posting:
> http://www.escholarlypub.com/digitalkoans/
> ...the below list may not be comprehensive, it attempts to provide a
> first-cut model for key journal access policies, adopting the now
> popular use of colors as a second form of shorthand for identifying the
> policy types...
>    1. Open Access journals (OA journals, color code: green)...
>    2. Free Access journals (FA journals, color code: cyan)...
>    3. Embargoed Access journals (EA journals, color code: yellow)...
>    4. Partial Access journals (PA journals, color code: orange)...
>    5. Restricted Access journals (RA journals, color code: red)...
> ...the Directory of Open Access Journals... is the Directory of Open and
> Free Access Journals, because many listed journals do not use a Creative
> Commons Attribution License or similar license.... Some may argue that
> the distinction between OA and FA journals is meaningless... In any
> case, the journal universe is not just green or red, and it's a pity
> that we don't know the breakdown of the spectrum...

A Plea For Chrononomic Parsimony and a Focus on What Really Matters

                Stevan Harnad

Ah me! There's no legislating color tastes or color codes, but could I put
in a plea on behalf of the original purpose of doing the color-coding in
the first place? It definitely was not in order to assign a hue to every
conceivable variant of either (i) journal copyright policy or (ii) journal
economic policy. There aren't enough colors under the sun to tag every
possible variant of either of those two, and *who cares*!

What we care about, presumably, is making sure that all would-be users
have immediate, permanent, webwide online access to all research journal
articles, rather than just those for which their institutions can afford
to pay the access-tolls: I take it that that is what all the fuss about
journal prices and IP is about. It is not an exercise in l'art pour l'art.

So the only two pertinent distinctions insofar as immediate, permanent,
webwide online access to research journal articles is concerned are these:

    "The Green and Gold Roads to Open Access"

(1) Does the *journal* make the full-texts of all of its articles
immediately and permanently accessible to all would-be users webwide
toll-free? If it does, the journal is an "Open Access Journal." Color it
GOLD. Never mind what its cost-recovery model is: It could have many.
Never mind what its copyright policy is: It doesn't matter, because the
purpose of the "open access" movement was to get immediate, permanent,
toll-free, full-text, webwide online access, and Gold journals provide it.
End of story. Nothing about republication rights, paper distribution
rights, etc. etc. That is all completely irrelevant. 


Second distinction. No need even to ask about it if the journal is Gold,
as you already have what you wanted. But what if the journal is not Gold?
(Reminder: That means it does *not* provide immediate, permanent,
toll-free, full-text online access to all of its articles webwide.)

(2) Does the journal give its authors the green light to self-archive
their own articles so as to provide immediate, permanent, toll-free,
full-text online webwide access to each of their own articles? If it does,
color the journal GREEN. (Green comes in two shades, because articles have
two embryological stages: pre- and post-peer-review. Color the journal
Pale-Green if it only gives its green light to the self-archiving of
pre-peer-review preprints and full Green if it gives its green light to
the self-archiving of the post-peer-review postprint.)

Lemma (trivial): All Gold journals are, a fortiori, also Green. (*Please*
let's not waste time talking about it!)

Other utter irrelevancies to avoid (and, a fortiori, to avoid assigning a
color code to, since the colors are meant to draw attention to what is
relevant, and not to immortalize every distinction anyone could
conceivably become fascinated by:

(a) It is irrelevant (to the open access movement) what the copyright
transfer agreement or license is *if the publisher is Green.* Let us not
start eulogizing Creative Commons Licenses in all their variants. They are
lovely, highly commendable, but *irrelevant* if the publisher is Green
(insofar as open access is concerned, which is, for those of you who may
already have forgotten: immediate, permanent, webwide access to the
full-text of the journal article, toll-free, online).

    "Making Ends Meet in the Creative Commons"

(b) It is irrelevant (to the open access movement) what the publisher says
about the website where the author may self-archive his own article: it
doesn't matter if it's called "home page," "personal website,"
"institutional server," "institutional repository," "institutional
archive," or what have you. And on no account assign -- to all those
arbitrary distinctions in how your employer elects to label your personal
disk-sector -- a color code of its very own!

(c) Time is a continuum, like space. Please don't try to color-code it
either. If a publisher is green, that means the green light to
self-archive immediately, not in 6 weeks, 6 months, or six years.
Embargoed back-access is not what the open access movement (or research
progress) is about. A publisher that does not give the immediate green
light is not a Green publisher.

Have I left anything out? Oh yes, the distinction between "free" and
"open" access (which is beginning to take on the mystical overtones of the
holy trinity or transsubtantiation for some). There is no difference. All
the uses for which the open access movement was formed -- and let us
*please* not forget that it was the new online medium that spawned the OA
movement: it is all about access *online*, not about redistribution rights
*on paper*, nor about republication rights -- come with the territory
(which is, in case you have forgotten [repeat with me]: immediate,
permanent, toll-free, webwide full-text access online).

For those bent on replaying all the nuances and shades of meaning inherent
in this semiological exercise, you are welcome to plow through the long
thread entitled "Free Access vs. Open Access" in the American Scientist
Open Access Forum

But if you're willing to trust me, don't bother. The only relevant color
there is Red -- as in Herring.

Stevan Harnad