Chemists against Plan S..

There’s an `Open Letter’ doing the rounds which rails against the European Plan S for open access to research papers . You can find it here on Google Docs. It is apparently initiated by some chemists, and there are very few signatories who are not chemists, though the language used in the letter suggests that the authors are talking for a much broader group.

My own thoughts on Plan S can be found here. I’m basically supportive of it. I suggest you read the letter for yourself and decide what you think. I think there are many rather inaccurate statements in it, including the idea that the journals run by Learned Societies are not profit-making. In my experience some of the most exploitative publishing practice comes from these organizations, though it takes something to beat the likes of Elsevier and Springer in that regard.

I share the concern about some researchers being driven to expensive `Gold’ Open Access modes of publication,  which is why I started the Open Journal of Astrophysics which I think offers a viable route to peer-reviewed publication that’s not only low-cost, but entirely free for authors and readers. Open Access publication is really not expensive to do. It’s just that some organizations see it as an opportunity to make enormous profits.

Incidentally, I just came across this summary of different routes to open access and their implications here:

In my opinion, Column H is the place to be!

I’ve given quite a few talks about Open Access recently and one of the things that struck me in the Q & A sessions after them is the extent to which attitudes differ in different disciplines. My own research area, astrophysics and cosmology, embraced open access over twenty-five years ago. Virtually every paper published in this discipline can be found for free on the arXiv, as is the case for particle physics. More recently, condensed matter physics and some branches of mathematics have joined in.

Chemistry, by contrast, is conspicuous by its absence from the arXiv. I don’t know why. Moreover, those who have expressed the most negative attitudes to Open Access whenever I’ve given talks about it have always been chemists. And now there’s this letter. It’s definitely part of a pattern. If any chemists out there are reading this, perhaps they could tell me why there’s such an enormous cultural difference between physics and chemistry when it comes to research publication?

The Letter states (paragraph 4):

Plan S has (probably) a much larger negative effect on chemistry than on some other fields.

Maybe so, but isn’t that just another way of saying that chemistry is more in need of cultural change than other disciplines?

P.S. I’d be happy to advise anyone interested in setting up an Open Journal of Chemistry, but if you want it to run like the Open Journal of Astrophysics you will have to set up a chemistry arXiv first – and that’s a much bigger job!

P.P.S. Thanks to a comment below I now know that there is a Chemistry archive, but it only has a small number (hundreds) of papers on it. Moreover, it does not host final refereed versions of papers. It is run by the American Chemical Society, German Chemical Society, and the Royal Society of Chemistry all learned societies who are opposed to Open Access no doubt because it threatens their funding models.

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43 Responses to “Chemists against Plan S..”

  1. Jeroen Bosman Says:

    There already is ChemRxiv: https://chemrxiv.org/

  2. Anton Garrett Says:

    Learned Societies have gained vested interests and no longer champion the people they should in this regard.

    • Learned societies are run by their membership. If you don’t like their policies, change them.

      • Yes. There should be much more discussion of such issues at the RAS and so on.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        They are not in practice “run” by their membership, but you are correct that the members can influence them. In the present case it is not necessary: bold and good initiatives like Open Journal of Astrophysics will eventually render learned-society journals obsolete simply by being far cheaper. We shall hear bleatings about supposedly essential services to members being cut, but you can bet that subscriptions won’t be.

      • The present is elected, and there can be a campaign. 😐

        “bold and good initiatives like Open Journal of Astrophysics will eventually render learned-society journals obsolete simply by being far cheaper”

        Time will tell. There already are cheaper alternatives: arXiv, not to mention viXra. Why haven’t they taken over? Price isn’t the only issue.

        Quality control is a major issue. An arXiv overlay journal can achieve this (even if arXiv alone doesn’t, and shouldn’t, offer this in general, and apparently doesn’t want to require information about the status of the latest version, much less require the latest version to appear on arXiv). Community acceptance is also very important. (So important that, in some cases, it is more important than quality; this is bad, but doesn’t mean that community acceptance is irrelevant.) If the OJA isn’t acceptable, it won’t take over and render learned-society journals obsolete.

        I don’t know what fraction of the community are excluded from even considering the OJA because they are not allowed, or don’t want, to put stuff on arXiv before acceptance, but commentators here are probably not representative.

  3. “Virtually every paper published in this discipline can be found for free on the arXiv”

    Are you sure? How do you know? Unless you read the journals, or at least their tables of contents, how will you know what is not on arXiv?

  4. I recently compiled a list of various policies of about 30 journals which are relevant to cosmology and have a good reputation. The open-access policies vary widely, in particular with regard to what version of the paper can appear where when, so a simple yes/no answer doesn’t cut it. I have my own ideas about what I’m willing to put up with, i.e. minimal criteria a journal should conform to before I would be happy publishing something in it.

    • The final version is not always on arXiv. In some cases, one knows this; in others, one doesn’t. I sometimes ask authors whether the latest arXiv version is the final one, ask them to update the publication info at arXiv, ask them to post the final version. Not all answer, much less comply. 😐

    • “I recently compiled a list of various policies”

      These are: 1) I must be able to submit to the journal, 2) no page charges, 3) ideally, final version can be on arXiv with no embargo, but a minimal requirement is that a PDF of the final version is directly accessible via one link from the arXiv abstract, either to arXiv itself or to my own website (not that of the publisher, which might require additional shenanigans), 4) the publisher must meet minimal moral criteria (not just avoiding excessive subscription costs or whatever, but also quality control and so on; Elsevier, for example, is guilty on many counts, as can be easily researched, even though there are many good papers in some of their journals, so I would avoid publishing with them even if all the other criteria are met).

      I have a better feeling if I retain copyright, but in practice there is little difference between retaining copyright and giving the journal an exclusive license for “proper” publishing, and signing away copyright but retaining the right to make my own (p)reprint available at arXiv, my own website, or any other non-commercial venture.

      If I have a choice, then I prefer a publication system which is as painless as possible, e.g. I can use my own (non-conflicting) LaTeX macros, additional errors are not introduced as part of the publication process, etc. (It is a mystery to me why many journals do not produce the final result from a LaTeX file, but rather somehow convert it or even re-key it.)

  5. I’ve often presented arguments in favour of an alternative submission mechanism for the OJA and have not heard any arguments against it. I think this would tremendously help the journal—as a matter of principle, even if, as I expect, most authors will submit via arXiv.

    So why not?

    Again, I volunteer to screen all such submissions to weed out crackpots, sending an email to the editors of the OJA with a link to those which should be considered. For that matter, there could also be an alternative distribution mechanism. The OJA has just a link to the paper—does it matter if this is at arXiv or elsewhere? Again, I volunteer.

    Why not?

    (The OJA could require that all accepted papers be available on arXiv, but there would have to be an agreement with arXiv that any paper accepted by the OJA would have a right to be on arXiv.)

    • telescoper Says:

      You seem not to have grasped the key concept behind an arXiv overlay journal.

      • Yes, I grasp the key concept. (They have been around in maths for much longer.) And I think that it is a very good idea whose time has come. However, as I have noted before, there are valid reasons for wanting an alternate submission mechanism. I am not the only one who thinks this; I am sure that some other readers here think the same, and others elsewhere—they’re just not as vocal. Yes, bypassing the arXiv completely would be too much work, and not a good idea. What I am suggesting is a small change which would mean little extra work but would greatly increase the standing of the OJA.

        It’s sort of like the case with other minorities in the world. One can say “well, my politics is fine with 99 per cent of the population, I won’t worry about the 1 per cent; they’re not relevant as voters anyway” or one can say “I aim to be inclusive, taking minority views into account, as long as this is feasible at negligible incremental cost”. 😐

        The OJA needs acceptance in order to succeed. If it is not accepted, people will avoid it, because the people who don’t have permanent academic jobs have to worry about such things. Apart from quality control, it needs to be welcoming, not “This is what we did; if you don’t like it, go elsewhere”.

        At least you could reply in detail to my individual arguments rather than just claiming that I don’t understand the concept. 😐

    • telescoper Says:

      As a matter of fact, our Scholastica platform *does* allow authors to submit initial versions directly to the platform.

      The final version, if accepted, must be on arXiv, however, so it is a lot simply for us if we know from the start that the paper conforms to the arXiv criteria. Otherwise we might get into an absurd situation in which we accept a paper but cannot publish it as the author cannot place it on the arXiv.

      That practical reason aside, the main reason for asking authors to submit first to the arXiv is that it encourages open science. Often comments from people who have seen the arXiv version are more useful than those from referee(s).

      P.S. All the direct uploads we have received so far have been rejected.

      • “As a matter of fact, our Scholastica platform *does* allow authors to submit initial reversions directly to the platform.”

        OK, so no extra work there, except perhaps making the interface public.

        “The final version, if accepted, must be on arXiv, however, so it is a lot simply for us if we know from the start that the paper conforms to the arXiv criteria. Otherwise we might get into an absurd situation in which we accept a paper but cannot publish it as the author cannot place it on the arXiv.”

        This is why it would be useful to have an agreement with arXiv that all accepted OJA papers automatically qualify.

        Also, step back and think about this. If there is a paper you deem acceptable for OJA, but, for whatever reason, it can’t go on arXiv, then there is something seriously wrong with arXiv, and the OJA should not rely on it as a distribution mechanism.

        By the same token, this means that people who cannot (yet) put something on arXiv cannot use the OJA. You and I and many others were grandfathered in from the good old days. Now there is an endorsement system. While I understand the need for it, it is not just a formality (otherwise there would be little use for it), and it might be difficult for some early-career researcher from the third world or whatever to get an endorsement. You might argue that anyone who actually writes good papers should have no trouble getting an endorsement (IIRC, the endorser also has to be an active arXiv user), but while we might not know anyone for whom that is not the case, it might be a dangerous and discriminatory generalization.

        As I have mentioned before, when I was at Jodrell Bank, the Institute policy was “arXiv only after acceptance; exceptions require the approval of the Director”. I don’t know whether that is still the case there, nor how common it is elsewhere.

        “That practical reason aside, the main reason for asking authors to submit first to the arXiv is that it encourages open science. Often comments from people who have seen the arXiv version are more useful than those from referee(s).”

        One could argue that in that case, the referees have not been chosen properly. 😐

        Also, I think it should be up to the author if he wants comments before acceptance, or would prefer, for whatever reason (perhaps fear of plagiarism: someone better connected could re-write the stuff and get a paper accepted more quickly and hence claim priority—yes, this does happen), to wait until acceptance. (I recommend sex before (and during, and after) marriage, but I don’t think that it is a good idea to force someone into it who thinks otherwise.)

        “P.S. All the direct uploads we have received so far have been rejected.”

        Probably because you have not invited such direct uploads from the community at large. Especially if the technical stuff is already in place, why not give it a try? Especially if they are apparently possible already, what will a small number of acceptable papers change?

        In some cases, if one cannot (yet) post to arXiv, acceptance by a reputable journal will grant one this privilege. Note also that not everyone can post to every category. So, someone like, say, Ed Witten, who switched from history to physics, might have trouble with that first physics paper, even if already an arXiv user. 🙂

        While I would prefer what I have outlined above and previously, there is some middle ground (think petting before marriage rather than full sex). You could allow (or, rather, invite, since apparently they are already possible) direct uploads by people who have already put something on arXiv. This wouldn’t solve the problem of someone who isn’t allowed by arXiv to post there, but would take care of all the other objections. You could even preferentially handle these, and look at the rest with a lower (but not too low) priority.

        Also, in the rare event that a paper is accepted by the OJA but, for whatever reason, can’t appear on arXiv, the link could go to a PDF hosted elsewhere, rather than to arXiv (where, to be sure, following the recommendation of arXiv, one should link to the abstract and not the PDF). There is no reason it couldn’t be on the same web server the OJA itself runs on, for that matter.

      • telescoper Says:

        The interface is public. The option exists on the upload page, and always has done.

      • Right below the “Submit a manuscript” button, it says:

        The Open Journal of Astrophysics is an arXiv overlay journal. This means that, while we have a conventional Editorial Board and refereeing process, we apply this to papers that are first submitted on the arXiv.

        My emphasis.

        So anyone reading before pressing a button on a web form (always a good idea) will conclude that in order to submit a paper, it first has to be on arXiv.

        I can’t test this now since i don’t (yet) have an account.

        So apparently this means that all direct uploads come from people who don’t read before pressing the button—no wonder that none were accepted!

        If you really are accepting direct uploads—and not rejecting them outright just because they are not on arXiv—then the text above needs to be changed.

        Assuming that you do consider direct uploads, are they considered on the same footing, or does stuff already on arXiv get preferential treatment?

      • “The interface is public. The option exists on the upload page, and always has done.”

        Assuming that they are treated the same as arXiv submissions (if not, this should be stated somewhere it is easy to find), why not offer that some member of the OJA staff will volunteer to be an endorser for arXiv for anyone who needs it after a paper has been accepted by OJA?

        This would solve the first problem above as well.

        I’m not a cynic; I’m a realist. I would like the OJA to succeed. I hope that my criticism has been constructive.

      • telescoper Says:

        Further down it says:

        “We strongly encourage submit in the manner described above (i.e. on the arXiv first). We can receive and review papers submitted directly to this platform but since the final version must be on the arXiv in order to be published we feel it is far better to submit it there first in order to establish that it is on an appropriate topic for this journal.”

      • “I can’t test this now since i don’t (yet) have an account.”

        I don’t want to test anything before creating a real account.

        I note that the institution is a required field. How exhaustive is the list? Is it regularly updated? Does this imply that without an institutional affiliation, one can’t submit to the journal? (While some traditional journals have such a policy—though I don’t know how, if at all, it is checked—some don’t.)

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        The solution to this problem is obvious. OJA should have a standing fictitious co-author available who has arXiv clearance, and if OJA accepts a paper from an author who is not arXiv-cleared then it instructs the author to add the fictitious co-author and submits to the arXiv that way. The tale (tail?) of Hetherington and Willard (1975) comes to mind, Willard being a cat.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F._D._C._Willard

      • “The solution to this problem is obvious.”

        You forgot the tongue-in-cheek smiley. 😐

      • “We can receive and review papers submitted directly to this platform but since the final version must be on the arXiv in order to be published we feel it is far better to submit it there first in order to establish that it is on an appropriate topic for this journal.”

        OK. However, since the text at the top (quoted above) suggests very strongly that the paper must go to arXiv first, some might stop reading there. Lower down, it also says: “Articles under consideration will already be in the public domain, since it is a requirement of the journal that they should be posted to arXiv.” (My emphasis.) Note: “articles under consideration”, so here it can’t be referring to the fact that they have to be on arXiv after acceptance.

        I suggest a change:

        we normally apply this to papers that are first submitted on the arXiv (but see below for exceptions).

        So all you need is to agree to act as an endorser to anyone who gets a paper accepted in OJA but needs an endorser in order to put it on arXiv. This will happen rarely, if at all. It is a small step to agree to do this and would make the OJA look better and more inclusive.

        You mentioned that the OJA might not be fully OA-compliant in all respects but could probably be made so. If you want to fulfill legal requirements, how text is formulated can be important. I’ve mentioned before that “public domain” means different things in different countries and also that, by essentially all accepted legal definitions, stuff at arXiv is not in the public domain. The phrase “in the public domain” is not a synonym for “publicly available”.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        I don’t do smileys.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Having a cat as a co-author gets better; the American Physical Society made this announcement four years ago:

        APS is proud to announce a new open access initiative designed to further extend the benefits of open access to a broader set of authors. The new policy, effective today, makes all papers authored by cats freely available.

        https://journals.aps.org/2014/04/01/aps-announces-a-new-open-access-initiative

        Notice the date of the announcement, however.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        And I notice that Peter even has a Maynooth Library cat to hand…

  6. “I think there are many rather inaccurate statements in it, including the idea that the journals run by Learned Societies are not profit-making.”

    Certainly there are some non-profit learned-society journals.

    The biggest problem with Plan S is that it is mainly a boondoggle to fix the Gold model as the open-access model, with a guaranteed stream of revenue. Supporting it just because it is open-access in some form might cause more problems than it solves.

    • telescoper Says:

      As far as I understand it, Plan S does not mandate Gold Open Access at all. The only thing it rules out explicitly are the so-called `hybrid’ journals which are a double rip-off.

  7. My understanding is that plan S corresponds to “gold” open access. My partner ran into problems with such journals because the people funding her job do not provide money to pay the high fees for that. So she has had to put a publication on hold until she can find some funding to apply for to pay the fee. This does not seem a good system if it means people cannot publish their research because it depends on having funds to do so?

    Its all very well saying everyone should just go down the route of your new journal – but as an early career researcher its not something she can do herself (even if she argues for it nothing would happen for several years at least), and meanwhile open access fees are impacting on her career.

    • Any system where the author has to pay, directly or indirectly, is bad. General funding by national research councils etc avoids this, at least if anyone can still submit stuff to the journals. However, it does nothing to cap the exaggerated fees. It is a boondoggle, whatever the fine-print says: people from the trenches are reporting that it leads to problems in the real world.

      The problem with arXiv in this context, which I was already complaining about 20 years ago, is that, unless the author explicitly states so in an optional comment, there is no way to tell whether the version at arXiv is the final “version of record”. (Not a problem for the OJA, but a problem for people who want to use arXiv to fulfill OA requirements.) Authors aren’t even required to update the publication info, much less replace the paper with the final version. Because arXiv doesn’t offer what is needed here, some people are forced into Gold OA.

  8. One of the promoters of the letter, Lynn Kamerlin, who is Professor of Structural Biology at Uppsala University, is an open access activist (see: https://kamerlinlab.com/ and https://twitter.com/kamerlinlab?lang=en). Their letter is against Plan S and not against OA.

    To the best of my knowledge, Plan S is the brainchild of Robert-Jan Smits who will soon leave the European commission to become president of TU Eindhoven.
    https://ec.europa.eu/epsc/team/robert-jan-smits_en
    https://sciencebusiness.net/news/former-eu-research-chief-appointed-run-tu-eindhoven

    • telescoper Says:

      Thanks for that. Do you know what version of Open Access Professor Kamerlin advocates?

      • From the letter and her tweets, I infer that she is in favour of a system like the following:
        1. You submit and publish your paper where you wish;
        2. you are “funder compliant” if you save your paper in a public repository;
        3. you should not be obliged to pay APCs.
        See https://twitter.com/kamerlinlab/status/1060216072006234112
        I will contact her to point her to your blog post as I may misrepresent her position.

        Incidentally, looking deeper into the EU H2020 documents, one can find this page:
        http://ec.europa.eu/transparency/regexpert/index.cfm?do=groupDetail.groupDetail&groupID=3463
        If you look at the member organisations you see, among others:
        Springer Nature, Frontiers, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust. This could explain the spin operation around Plan S, with the recent supporting press releases of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust. You can also notice the absence of any learned society in this expert group. They are not there as organisations. After reading this, I decided to sign the letter.

      • Enrico contacted me about this so I would like to raise a few points:

        1. As already pointed out by others, Chemistry has been late to come to preprints. However, all major and reputable chemistry journals now allow preprint deposition, and some, such as JACS (which is *the* chemistry journal) even allow preprint updates up until the decision letter is issued. There will be some chemistry stuff on arXiv (this is an acceptable repository for e.g. JACS), but it will very much depend on where in the chemistry spectrum the research falls, and therefore others will end up on bioRxiv, chemRxiv, et al.

        2. Learned societies are the backbone of chemistry, and we value them deeply. Their journals are driven by scientists for scientists, and they engage in massive work both for the community and also outreach to the general public through educational activities etc. As an example, the American Chemical Society has almost 157,000 members, according to this: https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/about/aboutacs.html. As I just pointed out on Twitter to Stephen Curry, all major society publishers in chemistry offer a variety of routes towards openness, but these would not be Plan S compliant (hybrid/licensing/embargo). While there are a number of pure OA quality chemistry journals, such as ACS Central Science, ACS Omega, Chemical Science etc, these are limited and clearly cannot carry the bulk of chemistry research. However, already the landscape has become dominated by pay-to-publish for-profit Gold publishers, and to many of us the principles as described are pushing us to that. In addition, as pointed out by other posters on this thread, if you look at the transparency register listing of advisory organizations, the heavy involvement of organizations with massive conflict of interests, and the striking absence of scholarly societies, does not inspire confidence.

        3. The letter is NOT an anti-Open Access letter, but rather a criticism of what we see as the likely outcome of Plan S, unless the plan is massively reformed in the implementation stage. Many of us are strong supporters of Open Access, and I have been for a long time involved in promoting Open Science, including at high-level policy level. I have seen many blog posts like yours that attack the letter on the basis of either misunderstanding of it’s contents or jumping immediately to the defense of Plan S (and making this conflation that Plan S = Open Access in general), but what I would love to see are blog posts that tell us how precisely those who are going to implement Plan S will take action to make sure that the very serious concerns we raise, in particular in terms of breaking international collaborations and problems recruiting students (both of which have started to happen), will not actually happen in reality.

        4. The letter, while started by chemists, has spread well beyond the chemistry community. We are at just over 800 signatures now. If/once we reach 1000, I will update Zenodo with a new list of signatures. However, the website is updated regularly: https://sites.google.com/view/plansopenletter/home. If you go to the list of signatories, https://sites.google.com/view/plansopenletter/signatories, and search for the string ‘chem’ (to cover all forms of chemistry affiliation), there are 532 matches. This leaves another 270 who do not identify as chemists as their primarily identification. If you search on ‘physics’ (to avoid physical chemists), there are 34 hits. However, there are a range of other disciplines: a lot from the life sciences and medicine, engineering, we have a few from humanities (both political science and classics), we have a professor of architecture, a researcher from the Wood Science Center, computer scientists, mathematicians, etc. I can go on. The overrepresentation of chemists is due to the fact that it was spread by word of mouth through the chemistry community before coming online. I have received emails complaining about it not being inclusive to other disciplines, and that chemistry is not somehow special, they face exactly the same problems. When the Google Doc was still editable, someone went rogue and made small changes to make it more inclusive to physics to and then we started getting physicist signatures (it was the only change we did not revert since we want to be inclusive to anyone who shares our concern). So this is not a ‘chemists’ letter, but a letter from researchers. Anyone who shares our concerns is welcome to sign on, irrespective of their disciplinary background.

        5. You can find me in the list of supporters of Fair Open Access: https://gitlab.com/publishing-reform/discussion/blob/master/Fair%20Open%20Access/List%20of%20supporters%20of%20Fair%20Open%20Access.md. I am also on the Editorial Advisory Board of ACS Omega, a pure Open Access journal (that is Plan S compliant), as well as on the Advisory Board of F1000Research. I have been heavily supportive of F1000 for many years. In addition, I serve on the Editorial Board of IOPs ‘Electronic Structure’ (IOP is a strong supporter of Open Access: https://publishingsupport.iopscience.iop.org/open_access/), as well as on the EAB of ACS Catalysis and the Journal of Physical Chemistry, both of which again have various Openness routes. For what it’s worth, I also am an open data warrior and find it disappointing that hardly any mention of data is made in Plan S.
        Based on what the chemistry landscape looks like now, I fail to see the impact of Plan S as being anything other than a massive diversion of public funds away from non-profit society publishers, all of whom have open routes, towards for-profit high-volume publishers. I believe anyone who believes in fair and equitable open access should stand up and join us in fighting for this not to happen, and I welcome them to add their voices to our letter.

        I would also be very pleased if the Plan S architects would take concrete steps to prevent this from happening, however I do not actually see these being taken at the moment. Therefore it will be interesting to see what the final implementation language says.

        Finally, you will notice that the letter ends with a call not for closed science, but rather for the full Open landscape to be valued and recognized, and not just a very narrow definition as put forward by Plan S. I stand by that call, and will continue to fight for fair open access.

  9. […] Tuesday’s quick post about a letter of opposition to Plan S generated some comments from academics about the role of “Learned Societies” in academic publishing.  I therefore think it’s relevant to raise some points about the extent that these organization (including, in my field,  the Royal Astronomical Society and the Institute of Physics) rely for their financial security upon the revenues generated by publishing traditional journals. […]

  10. A clear definition of “gold” open access is needed for the comments above. Many comments implicate that “gold” stands for paid open access. This is not the actual definition:

    The ‘gold’ route: Articles are universally accessible free of charge immediately upon publication. This sometimes requires authors to pay a fee to the publisher of the journal. Within academic publishing, the ‘gold’ route typically includes peer-review.

    • In practice, gold almost always means that authors pay. Otherwise, if stuff is publicly available, there is less point in subscribing to a journal, so free (for authors) gold is probably not sustainable except in something like the OJA.

      People use “green” to mean different things as well. Usually, it does not refer to the final, official version, but rather to some version created by the author. To what extent this is allowed to be updated to “match the published version” is unclear, though it is clear that it does not include the right nor the possibility to post the official, final PDF.

      In the field of astronomy/cosmology/astrophysics/GR, is there any gold-access journal without some sort of author fees? I’m not sure about Living Reviews in Relativity (formerly run by the Max Planck Society, but now operated by Springer), though as far as I know it is not an “anyone can submit” journal but rather reviews are solicited. I doubt that the review authors pay a fee, so I wonder where the funding comes from.

      My impression is that one can have de facto gold access (via arXiv) for journals published by Oxford Academic, Springer, Wiley, and (at least for some) the APS. This is much more difficult, if possible at all, with IOP journals. (I haven’t looked in detail at Elsevier, because I don’t like them for other reasons, but I doubt that it is possible.) Note: I am including “page charges” in “article-processing fees” here.

      • The above refers to what is officially allowed. I’m sure that some people break some of the rules some of the time.

        By itself, the arXiv does not require any specific version to be uploaded, doesn’t require the author to describe what it is, and there is no check whether the description corresponds to reality. I appreciate authors who update their submission and document this via comments, and publish in journals where this is allowed up to the final version, but one has to take their word for it unless one does a direct comparison (in which case one doesn’t need the arXiv version.) Of course, arXiv is still a “preprint server”, so this is not really what it is supposed to to. Something like the OJA can use the arXiv infrastructure but require the author to put the final, official version on arXiv as the version of record.

        One thus needs to distinguish between “practical gold access for someone putting his stuff on arXiv” (he can do it if he wants to) and “practical gold access from a legal point of view”, which arXiv itself doesn’t offer.

      • It is better to call the fish by their names. Pre-print of author-accepted manuscript (e.g. https://twitter.com/benmarwick/status/948820367975489537) instead of “green OA”, and paid immediate OA vs. unpaid immediate OA, instead of “gold” vs. “gold”.

      • The AAM (author accepted manuscript) is a common term. Most journals allow only this on arXiv and/or other repositories. It includes changes due to peer review but does not include subsequent editing, formatting, etc. Most journals don’t allow one to self-archive the final, journal-produced PDF. (At arXiv this is mostly moot, since they don’t accept PDF if produced from LaTeX, but I don’t know what the policy is if the journal didn’t produce it from LaTeX, even though the author did submit it and the subsequent corrected version in LaTeX.) I can understand that. What is (intentionally?) unclear everywhere I have checked is whether the author can update his own LaTeX file so that the PDF produced at arXiv corresponds as closely as possible to the final, official version produced by the journal (on PDF or on paper). Does anyone know?

        Again, I am asking about what is allowed, not what many people commonly do. 🙂

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