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Re: Economics of Green Open Access

Joseph Esposito and I still are not understanding one another: 
Green OA self-archiving is not, as Joseph has suggested, a 
*parasite*: It is an *enzyme*, a catalyst, accelerating and 
facilitating the natural process of transition from today's 
access for subscribers-only to tomorrow's (online) access (to the 
author's refereed final draft) for all would-be users. That is 
far as my own interest, as a researcher, goes. But it is unlikely 
(as Joseph notes) to end there: universal Green OA is eventually 
likely to make subscriptions unsustainable, thereby inducing a 
universal transition to Gold OA publishing, at a much lower price 
(for peer review alone) per article published, paid by 
institutions out of their windfall annual subscription 
cancellation savings, with text-generation, (online-only) access 
provision and archiving and their costs all offloaded onto the 
distributed global network of Green OA institutional 

The moral of the story is that there is no need for the research 
community to wait for the publishing community to convert to Gold 
OA of its own accord, and particularly not at Gold OA's 
needlessly high current asking price, and while the money to pay 
for it is still locked into subscriptions: Universities and 
research funders can mandate Green OA self-archiving, now. That 
will ensure 100% Green OA; and publishing can and will adapt as 
need be, as a matter of natural course, if and when it becomes 


Stevan Harnad

On 2011-08-18, at 8:58 PM, Joseph Esposito wrote:

> In response to a message by Professor Harnad:  I believe that 
> most librarians are very smart.  Because they are smart, they 
> will not purchase things that they can get for free. 
> Therefore so-called Green OA, which depends on publishers to 
> manage editorial review and assert brands as indicators of 
> quality, undermines the basic economics of one kind of journal 
> publishing. You can self-archive all you want until the 
> journals that support the publishing process disappear.
> Green OA in the short term misleadingly appears to have little 
> effect on journal subscriptions (how many journal subscriptions 
> have thus far been cancelled because of the availability of OA 
> versions of articles?), and that is because the OA version is 
> still missing components (e.g., the full run of articles of a 
> particular journal) that appear only in the formal published 
> version.  But all things being equal, a Green copy would 
> substitute for a paid copy. The question is how long before all 
> things will be equal.  Publishers have various strategies for 
> preventing all things for being equal, as has been noted 
> countless times on this list.
> Of course, there is an interesting challenge in discussing 
> this, in that you cannot have evidence for a future state.
> The author-pays method pioneered by BMC and ingeniously 
> modified by PLOS among many others solves this problem--though 
> neither is a substitute for established publications with 
> traditional economic models.
> You cannot have OA PLUS peer review PLUS editorial brands PLUS 
> subscription-based economics.  You get two out of three, which 
> ain't bad.
> But let's not lose sight of the context.  It was suggested on 
> this list that I was somehow opposed to OA.  I am not.  There 
> are many varieties of OA.  I see no reason to insist on one 
> flavor, Green.
> Joe Esposito