Green OA could undermine 'some' journal viability

Green OA could undermine 'some' journal viability

A shift away from Gold Open Access (OA) to the Green model will mean some publications are no longer be viable, the STM Frankfurt Conference heard on Tuesday (13th October).

Gold OA is paid for upfront by Article Processing Charges, with research made freely available upon publication. The Green model relies on subscription fees, with research not made publicly available until an embargo period has elapsed.

IOP Publishing m.d. Steven Hall said that expected cuts in science funding next year, coupled with support for the Green model in the US and China, may prompt some “stepping back” from Gold OA. “In general we can make Green OA work with a 12-month embargo, but there will need to be huge compromises, possibly a solution like Chorus [Clearing House for the Open Research of the United States; a successful initiative by US publishers for the deposit of papers] in the US,” Hall said.

But Elsevier c.e.o. Ron Mobed predicted: “Obviously Green Open Access depends completely on there being a sustainable subscription model on which to base the embargo period, and to the extent that a 12-month period becomes a standard, the likelihood is there will be some publications which are not sustainable at 12 months and some which are, and I think we will go through a period of discovery where we see which are the publishers that are completely viable at this period and which are not. I think the research community will probably regret - I don't mean live to regret, but be unhappy - if they see journals collapsing through lack of sustainability and there will be some kind of countermechanism over time. During this transition some journals will be under pressure, some will prove that the 12-month period is completely sustainable."

Philip Carpenter, executive vice-president of research at Wiley, revealed that only 20% of Wiley’s overall journals usage took place within 12 months of publication, implying that a year-long embargo would offer only limited protection. But Carpenter said the full impact of Green OA would be “very complicated” to calculate. “We’ll need to think hard about what factors influence library purchasing decisions; we don’t know enough [about that],” he said.

Meanwhile, Copyright Clearance Center president and c.e.o. Tracey Armstrong brought up the issue of workforce diversity, stating: “There are so few women in senior positions in science.” Mobed said that Elsevier had a 50/50 gender split, but “the number of women in senior positions takes an enormous dip... We’ve brought in an outside organisation to benchmark us against other organisations and make recommendations.”