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Open Access, A2K & Scholarly Communication: What is Open Access (Green Route)?

This LibGuide provides useful information about the Open Access Movement, open access publishing and open scholarly communication trends.

What is OA Green Route?

OA repositories ("green OA"):

  • OA repositories can be organized by discipline (e.g. arXiv for physics) or institution (e.g. DASH for Harvard). When universities host OA repositories, they usually take steps to ensure long-term preservation in addition to OA.
  • OA repositories do not perform peer review themselves. However, they generally host articles peer-reviewed elsewhere.
  • OA repositories can contain preprints, postprints, or both.OA repositories can include preprints and postprints of journal articles, theses and dissertations, course materials, departmental databases, data files, audio and video files, institutional records, or digitized special collections from the library. Estimates of the costs of running a repository depend critically on how many different functions they take on. If the average cost of an institutional repository is now high, it's because the average institutional repository now does much more than merely provide OA to deposited articles.
    • A preprint is any version prior to peer review and publication, usually the version submitted to a journal.
    • A postprint is any version approved by peer review. Sometimes it's important to distinguish two kinds of postprint: (a) those that have been peer-reviewed but not copy-edited and (b) those that have been both peer-reviewed and copy-edited. Some journals give authors permission to deposit the first but the not the second kind in an OA repository.
  • OA repositories provide OA by default to all their contents. Most now also allow "dark deposits" which can be made OA at any later date. This is useful in working with publishers who permit green OA only after an embargo period. Authors may deposit new articles immediately upon publication and switch them to OA when the embargo period expires.
  • Authors need no permission for preprint archiving. When they have finished writing the preprint, they still hold copyright. If a journal refuses to consider articles that have circulated as preprints, that is an optional journal-submission policy, not a requirement of copyright law. (Some journals do hold this policy, called the Ingelfinger Rule, though it seems to be in decline, especially in fields outside medicine.)
  • If authors transfer copyright to a publisher, then OA archiving requires the publisher's permission. Most surveyed publishers (60+%) already give blanket permission for postprint archiving. Many others will do so on request, and nearly all will accommodate a mandatory green OA policy from the author's funder or employer. However, when authors retain the right to authorize green OA, then they may authorize green OA on their own without negotiating with publishers.
  • When authors transfer copyright to publishers, they transfer the OA decision to publishers at the same tme. Even if most publishers allow green OA, many do not. In addition, many qualify their permission and some add new restrictions over time, such as fees or embargo periods. For these reasons there is a growing trend among scholarly authors to retain the right to provide green OA and only transfer the remaining bundle of rights to publishers. Some do this through author addenda which modify the publisher's standard copyright transfer agreement. Some funders (like the Wellcome Trust and NIH) require authors to retain key rights when publishing journal articles. At some universities (like Harvard and MIT) faculty have granted the university the non-exclusive right to provide OA to their work.
  • Because rights-retention policies solve the green OA permission problem for future work, there's no need for green OA policies to create loopholes for dissenting publishers, for example requiring OA "subject to copyright" or "except when publishers do not allow it". There may be good reasons to create opt-outs for authors, as Harvard does, but there's no need to create opt-outs for publishers. When authors authorize OA while they are still the copyright holders, they needn't seek permission from publishers later on and needn't worry about infringement. Funders and universities are upstream from publishers and can adopt policies to ensure green OA and the permissions to make it lawful.
  • Because most publishers already permit green OA, and because green OA is a bona fide form of OA, authors who fail to take advantage of the opportunity are actually a greater obstacle to OA than publishers who fail to offer the opportunity. Funders and universities are in a position to close the gap and ensure green OA for 100% of published work by their grantees and faculty. Because authors cannot close this gap on their own, funders and universities who fail to close the gap have no one else to blame if fast-rising journal prices enlarge the fast-growing fraction of new research inaccessible to those who need it. All publishers could help the process along and some are actually doing so. But there's no need to depend on publishers when we could depend on ourselves.
  • For a searchable database of publisher policies about copyright and archiving, see Project SHERPA.
  • Because most publishers and journals already give blanket permission for green OA, the burden is on authors to take advantage of the opportunity. This means that authors may publish in nearly any journal that will accept their work (OA or non-OA) and still provide OA to the peer-reviewed text through an OA repository. (Unfortunately, the compatibility of green OA with publishing in most non-OA journals is still one of the best-kept secrets of scholarly publishing.)
  • The most useful OA repositories comply with the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) protocol for metadata harvesting, which makes them interoperable. In practice, this means that users can find a work in an OAI-compliant archive without knowing which archives exist, where they are located, or what they contain. (Confusing as it may be, OA and OAI are separate but overlapping initiatives that should not be mistaken for one another.)
  • Every university in the world can and should have its own open-access, OAI-compliant repository and a policy to encourage or require its faculty members to deposit their research output in the repository. A growing number do precisely this.
  • We can be confident that OA repositories are economically sustainable because they are so inexpensive. There are many systems of free and open-source software to build and maintain them. Depositing new articles takes only a few minutes, and is done by individual authors, not archive managers. In any case, OA repositories benefit the institutions that host them by enhancing the visibility and impact of the articles, the authors, and the institution.
  • The two leading lists of OA repositories around the world are the Directory of Open Access Repositories (OpenDOAR) and the Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR).
(Source: Extract from "Overview of Open Access" (Peter Subert) :