Thing 17: Open Access – Gold, Green and Black
Open Access (OA) refers to the ability for anyone, anywhere, to access academic research free of charge. This blog post aims to demystify the three main varieties of OA: Gold, Green and Black.
Getting Started: Gold v Green v Black
Let’s start with the two legal options first…
Gold OA involves publishing in an OA journal or subscription ‘hybrid’ journal where the publisher makes an individual article OA. It also generally involves the application of a Creative Commons Licence which provides a standard framework defining how a work can be used. Frequently, authors must pay an Article Processing Charge (APC) to the publisher. Gold OA also exists in book publishing with some publishers, such as Taylor and Francis, providing an option for authors to pay to make their entire book OA.
Green OA refers to the sharing of publications otherwise only available to subscribers, via repositories such as Minerva Access, or Scholarly Collaboration Networks (SCNs) including ResearchGate. Green OA does not require the payment of an APC, relying on publisher agreement to share an earlier version. Typically, this is the author accepted manuscript. Whilst this is ‘free’ and seems like a great option, there is a catch: most publishers will not allow this sharing for some time after the work is published. This ‘embargo’ period may range from six months to two years (sometimes longer in Humanities and Social Sciences—see the Elsevier Embargo List). Green OA applies to journal articles and, increasingly, to book chapters.
Then there’s the not-so-legal option…
Black OA refers to published works that are OA in contravention of author-publisher agreements. The most (in)famous player in this space is SciHub, a repository developed by Kazakhstani student, Alexandra Elbakyan. A recent paper suggests SciHub provides access to over two-thirds of the 80 million+ records listed in CrossRef and over 97% of articles published by Elsevier, leading some to refer to SciHub as the ‘Pirate Bay of Science’. Black OA also refers to the practice of SCNs hosting published versions of publications in contradiction to publisher agreements.
|Variety of OA||
|OA publishers, such as:
OA Journals, for example:
|Institutional repository (University of Melbourne):
|Sci-Hub, SCNs or personal websites, where an ‘illegal’ copy has been shared.||
- What are the risks of posting material publicly in contravention of publisher policies? Find out more through the Coalition for Responsible Sharing, and Thing 18 “Sharing your work (without breaking the law)”.
- What are the consequences for researchers if publisher legal action changes the nature of SCN services? A recent Science article investigates (Unimelb log-in required for access to full article).
- What are the broader ethical and economic issues? Have a look at this opinion piece for a discussion.
Published a paper and not sure how to share it?
- Check the title of your journal against the SHERPA/RoMEO search interface.
- If your paper has a DOI and is listed in the participating publishers, you can also check HowCanIshareIt to see what options are available to you.
Gold and Green OA
- Australasian Open Access Strategy Group (2017). What is Open Access?
- Elsevier (2017). Open Access Guide.
- Björk, Bo-Christer (2017). Gold, green, and black open access. Learned Publishing 30(2), 173-175.
- Collins, Keith (2017). An academic publisher is trying to kill Sci-Hub, the “Pirate Bay of science”. Ouartz 7 September.
This post was written by Jenny McKnight (Research Consultant (Open Access) and Stephen Cramond (Manager, Institutional Repository).