Open Access

Interview With… A Managing Editor

Like most students and recent graduates, Madeleine Markey wasn’t sure of her next step post-university. I interviewed Madeleine to find out how she became a Managing Editor for Taylor and Francis, as well as her thoughts on the open access debate.

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Gold vs. Green – does it matter?

Open Access can commonly be split into two types – gold or green – but there are other variations as well, such as hybrid, gratis and libre open access but for the purpose of this article the focus will be on green and gold open access.

Gold Open Access is when the author pays for the research paper to be an open publication. This removes the costs of publication from the reader, as the author covers these. To find out more about gold open access, this Open Science page has some useful links.

Green open access publications are published behind a pay wall and then put into an open access repository at a later date. This method is often referred to as self-archiving. To find out more about green open access, this Open Science page has some useful links.

In 2010, around 40% of research papers published in the UK were open access, with the majority being green open access.

Gold vs Green open access

Graphic of how open access is available across scientific – and humanities – journals (source)

This was all going well until the Finch Report decided that all UK OA journals should be Gold Open Access, where funds are available. There are positives to this, as it means the research paper is available immediately, and is not embargoed from public use for any length of time – which is how Green Open Access operates. However the cost of implementing Gold Open Access has been substantial to universities as they are still supporting traditional subscription methods for existing library subscriptions.

There is no definite answer as to whether Gold OA or Green OA is better – and this website certainly won’t provide the answer to this. There are many advocates for each side who are adamant that their chosen method of Open Access is better than the other. As the Finch Report has paved the way for government legislation, open access in the UK will have to follow the strict guidelines, and embrace Gold Open Access as it’s first port of call.

Possible Innovations of Open Access

With the Finch Report signalling the start of Open Access in the UK – even if some OA had been used prior to the report – it can only be a matter of time before possible innovations in publishing become reality. Digital publishing across the board has changed dramatically in recent years, going from bog standard PDFs to interactive and instantly updatable media you can carry with you at all times. With OA allowing research to be more widely available, let’s have a look at some innovations that could be on the way.

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1. Better systems to accommodate research output
With the rise of OA changing the academic publishing landscape, universities have began looking for ways to protect their assets. As the EPSRC’s long awaited open research data policy comes into effect on May 1st 2015, universities and research organisations are expected to securely preserve data. Of course, this would be costly for any university to attempt, which leads on to the next point…

2. Merging of university intellectual property
As commercial publishing houses have merged over time, with the most recent being Penguin Random House, so to might university presses. It has already been suggested that journal prices will need to fall in order for universities to support OA developments, so it would make sense to merge similar publications together. This could be a problem for smaller university presses – and possibly lead to job losses – if taken over by a larger, and more financially successful, university press.

3. Individual journal subscription
As journals are usually accessed through academic library subscriptions, it could be possible that individuals are able to subscribe in a pay-as-you-go format. This has been achieved for music, film and tv subscriptions and is recently been adapted for fiction and non-fiction publications. With Nature Publishing allowing subscribers to share ‘read only’ versions of research papers, it won’t be long before others follow suit. Nature’s method is one way to get around the six-month embargo period issued on all Green OA papers.

So what do you think? Do you see any of these on the academic publishing horizon?