In my last post I had the presumption to lecture my readership on what “green” and “gold” access mean. Hubris strikes – I got it wrong. I comment on the comments and then continue with why I think “green” is not enough:
PMR: I agree with this and will use it in the future
PMR: Also agreed. In many cases OA journals have no explicit permissions at all. In these cases and where I have athe time I engage with the editors to help them clarify the position. Sometimes they realise that they do actually wish to announce permissionFree re-use.
PMR But they will not know whether they are allowed to mine the data. OAI does not mean Open Access. It means Open Archives Initiative and the Open says nothing about permissions. It is extremely rare (in my experience) that material in OAI repositories carries an explicit statement about re-use. It’s possible to extract Green material from an OAI repository, re-use it, and be sued by a publisher.
PMR: I agree with this sentiment but in practice it is unlikely that there will be universal machine-readable licences in OAI repositories any time soon. So in practice roaming the OAI repositories is no use if I wish to re-use and redistribute the material.
PMR: Klaus seems to use the terms Green OA and Gold OA in the way I did and also seems to differentiate between Colour-road (how something got there) from Colour-OA (what you can do with it). This seems to conflict with ChrisR and PeterS.
PMR: I accept this definition as coming from the fountain of Open truth. Now for the implications (and see If I have learnt OA-101):
- “some green OA removes both price and permission barriers”. This means that authors publish in a subscription journal (i.e. you can only read it if you pay) BUT allows an author to self archive the article and release it under a license where anyone can read it for free and anyone can redistribute it without permission. I think it happens when authors shout loud enough or for special issues and it also happens in disciplines like computer science where everyone republishes their articles with or without permission. But in general it isn’t common and it is of very little practical use (if only because of the difficulty of discovery). It’s of no use for data-mining unless (highly unlikely) the author actually attaches CC-BY or similar.
- “some gold OA does as well”. In my experience – which is limited as I am a chemist and there are essentially no examples – all major Gold OA removes permission barriers. I’m thinking of BMC and PLoS and OUP. They all have CC-BY. There are some journals who have CC-NC and I have argued the case with some but in general this is a minor concern. So which major Gold OA journals forbid re-use? (We should exclude the awful hybrid journals which take money off authors for less than permissionFree). If an author has paid money for OA, which journals forbid their readers to re-use the article?
- “…perhaps most) green OA doesn’t remove permission barriers”. I agree with this.
- “…most) gold OA doesn’t either”. I’m disappointed if this is the case.
My conclusion is that the terms Green and Gold seem to me to be highly confusing and operationally almost useless for a reader. The reader doesn’t care how the material got there – they need to know what they can do with it. For that there has to be a simple set of labels and CC-* provides that.
Finally a word about why it is essential that the NIH continues to mandate deposition in PubmedCentral. (Stevan Harnad has argued that it would be better for authors to self-archive in their institutional repositories). Note that many authors – e.g. from industry – don’t have IRs anyway. But the main point is that it is completely impossible to discover and systematically mine this information. Let’s assume there are ca 60,000 articles deposited in PMC this year, and that there are ca. 10,000 institutions involved. (Evne if it’s only 1000 my argument holds). If I want these I have to set my own list of 10,000 repositories and trawl the lot – every day – for new content. (And I want it daily). And every other text-miner has to do the same. How do I know when a new institution publishes? I have to go to Pubmed anyway, so I might as well read the material there. And the compliance will be awful. The NIH cannot check 10,000 sites on a regular basis. In contrast if the stuff in in PMC (or UKPMC) then I can get a single RSS feed daily which will alert me to the material that comes in. The robots have no trouble trawling this. PMC will presumably alert me to what is minable and what – thanks to the publishers – is not. So I am afraid that self-archiving is a complete non-starter.