Green vs gold discussion

The library had a brown bag lunch discussion about green -vs- gold open access (OA) on Friday, April 18th. Green OA is when an author takes a version of their article and adds it to a repository or to another online location to allow for free access (also called self-archiving). Gold OA is when an author publishes with an open access publisher and the work is freely available online from the moment of publication. One of the first questions asked was whether there was a useful mnemonic to help remember the difference between green and gold. One suggestion was that gold OA is the gold standard since the publication is openly available from day one. No one could really come up with a good mnemonic for green OA.

We discussed the misconceptions that many faculty have about open access. Some think that open access publications do not include peer review. That is almost always untrue. Open access journals have peer review just like traditional, toll-access journals. Even green OA usually involves articles that are peer-reviewed.

Many faculty feel pressure to publish in high-impact journals. Fortunately, there are more and more well-respected, high-impact, open access journals – one example of this is PLOS Biology. There are also some unsavory publishers in the OA field. Jeffrey Beall, a librarian from Colorado, maintains a list of questionable publishers: Authors should always investigate the publishers they consider working with.

There was a question about what article processing charges (APCs) cover. The concern was that the author would pay the fee and then there would be another fee down the road for continued access. APCs are a one-time charge. The charge covers the costs of publication including editorial review, peer review, copy editing, layout, and online publication. Once the article is published it is freely available from then on; there are no additional fees.

We also demonstrated the use of SHERPA/RoMEO to investigate journal and publisher policies regarding self-archiving. This is a very useful tool for comparing publisher policies and for checking to see what version of an article an author can put online. We use this quite a bit to evaluate publication lists before uploading material to the UT Digital Repository.

We also talked briefly about open data. Many federal agencies are now encouraging grantees to make the data from their grants publicly available. One long-time data repository, ICPSR, has recently introduced a new option for data publication called Open ICPSR. Members of ICPSR (UT Austin is a member) will be able to deposit their data for free. Non members will have to pay a $600 fee to deposit.

Finally, we talked about a general lack of awareness of open access on this campus. Most faculty are in favor of it in theory, but aren’t willing to invest time into either self-archiving or investigating alternative publishers. We in the library can help by providing services in this area, but we also need to be aware of the time involved in offering these services. We don’t want to over commit and fail to deliver, so we need to continue to look at ways of stream-lining processes.

These are some topics that were mentioned for further discussion or investigation:

  • Is there data that exists about OA authors? For instance – does rank, field, or age have any impact on whether someone chooses to publish their work OA
  • We would like to investigate altmetrics.
  • Updates on the White House directive that requires federal granting agencies to come up with plans for making data and publications more openly available.



There is a new open access publisher called ScienceOpen. The idea behind ScienceOpen is to publish in all areas of science and utilize post-publication peer review. Submitted articles will go through a technical and ethical review and accepted publications are then published online with a DOI after payment of an $800 publication fee.

Open peer review takes place after publication. Authors may invite suitable reviewers for their own manuscript, and editors or other ScienceOpen members may also invite peers to review the work. Unsolicited comments make up a separate portion of the public review system. The identity of all reviewers and commenters is visible at all times.

For more information about this process:

An update on public access to federally funded research

The Office of Science and Technology Policy has released an update on the federal government’s work towards making research, including data, more openly available to the public. It specifically provides an update on agency plans for complying with the White House directive. While those plans are still not public, it appears they may be in the next few months. It looks as though some federal agencies will be taking advantage of the infrastructure surrounding PubMed Central.


Open Access for scholarly books

A nonprofit group called Knowledge Unlatched, has come up with a new model for publishing open access books. In this model, libraries pick titles they would like to be open access and pay a title fee for each of those books. Those fees are meant cover the cost of publishing each book. The books are then published with a Creative Commons license and made available DRM-free via OAPEN, the HathiTrust and eventually the British Library.

For more information about this new OA model for books:

Chronicle article:

Knowledge Unlatched:

Lawrence Lessig lawsuit

Fair use got a win with Lawrence Lessig’s lawsuit against an Australian record label. Lessig used clips of a song by Phoenix in a lecture that was posted on YouTube. Liberation Music, the label representing Phoenix, issued a take-down notice for the lecture and then threatened to sue when Lessig fought back against the notice. The settlement requires Liberation Music to pay Lessig for harm caused and has resulted in a new take-down policy for Liberation Music.

For more information on this lawsuit:

Royal Society launching OA journal

The Royal Society of London will launch a new open access journal this fall, Royal Society Open Science (RSOS). RSOS will operate similarly to PLoS One, meaning it will publish research in all areas of science and mathematics and will base peer review on quality of the research, not novelty of the subject.

For more information about this journal, see this article from The Guardian

Cultural Anthropology Journal goes OA

The Society for Cultural Anthropology (SCA) recently announced that their flagship publication, Cultural Anthropology, would be going open access (OA). Their parent organization, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) had negotiated with Wiley-Blackwell to allow the SCA to become OA even though AAA has a publishing contract with Wiley-Blackwell that runs through 2017.

This is an exciting opportunity for members of SCA and readers of Cultural Anthropology – both current readers and the many future readers who will be able access their material for the first time.

See the announcement from SCA:

Economics of the Scholarly Communication Ecosystem

On January 31st, we had a discussion that was open to all library staff about the Economics of the Scholarly Communication Ecosystem. Those of us in the Open Access Group had been reading about the economics behind open access (OA) publishing, traditional, toll-access publishing, and hybrid publishing. We hoped the discussion would be a forum for us to share what we’d learned and hear from participants about their thoughts on the issue.

Here are some of the highlights of the discussion:

  • While the literature we (OA Group) had read indicated that switching to a system that pays for publishing services (Article Processing Charges, APCs) rather than paying for access would be much cheaper for libraries, some participants said they had read literature indicating that for research universities, the cost would be higher.
  • This brought up the issue of funding agencies paying for some APCs, so that universities and libraries wouldn’t be responsible for paying all APCs for their authors.
  • Of course, these discussions assumed a complete switch to open access publishing, but that isn’t the reality. There was much discussion around how we cope with the current transitional system we are in – most journals still charge a subscription fee (even if they also offer hybrid OA), while some journals are open access (both free and with fees for publishing).
  • We discussed the OA funds that some university libraries are making available to faculty at their institutions. Most of these funds are small in size (less than 100k), are available only to those people who do not have grant funding available to pay APCs, and cannot be used for hybrid-OA.
  • One participant asked if there had been much discussion in the library about which route to OA librarians preferred. We talked briefly about some of the pros and cons of green-OA vs. gold-OA. This is certainly a topic that could use further discussion.
  • There was some frustration expressed with the fact that we’ve been talking about OA for 20+ years now and we still have much the same system as we did in 1994. While there are some very successful OA journals, many of the OA journals that started up during that time have since folded.
  • Some of the collaborative efforts discussed included SCOAP3, the Compact for OA Publishing Equity, and SHARE.
  • One interesting topic brought up was a concern that universities (and the legislatures that fund public universities) do not truly understand what it means to be a public good. This lack of understanding coupled with very high costs for access to information and a transitional scholarly communication environment could lead administrators to pull funding away from the library – similar to what happened with many university presses.

While this was a great opportunity for us all to talk about the issues facing us right now, there is still much we didn’t get a chance to discuss. We hope to have discussions on other topics in the future.

Our reading list is available here.

Omnibus Appropriations Bill improves public access to research

The Omnibus Appropriations Bill that was recently passed by Congress, included a provision that will greatly improve access to taxpayer-funded research. Under the bill, federal agencies (with research budgets more than $100 million per year) within Labor, Health, and Human Services and Education will be required to provide the public with online access to articles funded by that research no later than 12 months after publication.

For more information, see the SPARC announcement:

The Simpsons teach us about copyright

I was getting caught up on my Hulu backlog and found a very funny episode from the Simpsons about movie piracy and copyright infringement. It does a good job of poking fun at the extreme lengths Hollywood (and our government) will go to protect the profits from the movies they make. The Simpsons writers have a good time pointing out the ridiculousness of our copyright system, but don’t go so far as to put a CC license on the episode. Enjoy!

Steal this Episode and if the link becomes inactive, here’s the Wikipedia article about this episode: