I would like to answer some questions and clarify some
points in Richard Van Noorden's Nature newsblog posting
---- NN: "[T]he [RCUK] agencies which fund UK scientists
[have] required [researchers]… to make their research
papers free [online] since 2006; but now they’re going to
The UK has indeed led the world in mandating Open Access
(OA). The UK is the first country in which all the
national research funding agencies have formally required
OA. (Before its funder mandates, the UK was also where the
world's first OA mandate was adopted within a University,
But adopting an OA mandate is not enough. The real
challenge is in formulating and implementing the mandate
in a way that ensures compliance. That is where attention
is focused right now.
---- NN: "[W]ill research papers be instantly open, or
will publishers get to impose a delay?…[S]ome [publishers]
let authors put up a free copy of the published manuscript
after an embargo period. This is known as ‘green’ open
access… RCUK open-access policies currently permit this
embargo, with a six-month delay."
There are two ways to provide OA:
Green OA is provided by publishing in any suitable
peer-reviewed journal, and then making the paper OA by
self-archiving it in the author's institutional OA
repository (or an institutional-external repository).
Gold OA is provided by publishing in an OA journal that
makes the paper OA.
The majority of journals (over 60%, including the top
journals in most fields) endorse the author providing
immediate (unembargoed) Green OA.
A minority of journals (less than 40%) embargo Green OA.
To accommodate this, some mandates have allowed an OA
embargo of 6 months (or longer). To fulfill would-be
users' immediate research needs during the embargo,
however, institutional repositories have a semi-automatic
"email eprint request" Button: The user can request an
eprint with a click and the author can comply with a
---- NN: "[T]he recommendation will be for a mixed
green-gold model… ultimately we will see a transition to
gold – so the real question is how long this will take."
Among the implementation problems of some of the OA
mandates today is precisely this mixture of Green and
Gold. Only Green OA can be mandated. (Authors cannot be
forced to choose a journal based on the journal's
cost-recovery model rather than its quality and
suitability.) Funds (if available) can be offered to pay
the Gold OA publishing fee, if there is a suitable Gold OA
journal in which the author wishes to publish; but Green
OA self-archiving needs to be mandated first, cost-free.
My own view is that it is a mistake to press too hard for
Gold OA now, while subscriptions are still paying the
costs of publication, the top journals are not Gold OA,
the price of Gold OA is still high, and Green OA mandates
(cost-free) are still too few. Once Green OA mandates by
funders and institutions have made OA universal, the
resulting availability of Green OA to everything will
drive the transition to Gold OA publishing, at a much
lower price, as well as releasing the subscription funds
to pay for it.
---- NN: "British universities could end up paying twice –
once to make their research open access, and again for
subscriptions to the journals that they will still need to
buy, because those journals will contain 94% non-British,
This is precisely why the mixed Green/Gold model is not a
good idea. The press should be for Green OA self-archiving
mandates by research funders and institutions worldwide.
The transition to Gold OA will then take place naturally
of its own accord -- and meanwhile the world will already
have 100% OA.
---- NN: "[T]he UK could challenge the US for global
leadership on open access."
It's the other way 'round! The UK is in the lead, but if
the US passes the FRPAA, then the US will have taken over
the UK's lead.
---- NN: "Just being able to read a free PDF isn’t
actually open access."
Yes it is. Gratis OA means free online access and Libre OA
means free online access plus certain re-use rights. Just
as Green OA has to come before Gold OA, Gratis OA has to
come before Libre OA. The barriers are much lower. (All
the OA mandates are for Gratis OA.)
---- NN: "[R]esearchers and institutions would be forced
to comply with open access…. mak[ing] open access a
requirement for future grants… asking institutions to sign
a statement that papers published under its grants are
compliant with its open access policy; and if not… hold
back a final instalment… of the grant funding."
And the most important implementation detail of all: All
mandates (funder and institutional) should be convergent
and collaborative rather than divergent and competitive:
(1) Both funders and institutions should require author
self-archiving in the author's institutional repository
(not in an institutional-external central repository).
Central repositories can then harvest from the
institutional repository, authors only have to deposit
once, institutions can monitor and ensure compliance with
funder OA mandates and they will also be motivated to
adopt OA mandates of their own, for all of their research
output, funded and unfunded, in all discipline.
(2) Both funders and institutions should require immediate
deposit (not just after an allowable embargo period).
(3) The deposit mandate should be fulfilled by the
mandatee (the author), not by publishers (3rd parties who
have an interest in delaying OA and are not bound by the
mandate). This will also make the monitoring of compliance
much easier and more effective.
---- NN: "What Wales will add here is not clear… Some
celebrity involvement is to be welcomed."
OA means Open Access to peer-reviewed research. Wikipedia
is not peer-reviewed research and indeed it is rather
negative on expertise and answerability. So Wales has a
lot to learn. But if he does learn what needs to be done
to make Green OA mandates effective, he may be able to see
to the adoption of the implementation details that are
needed, if he has David Willetts' confidence…