There are two main routes for open access of journals,
monographs etc.: the 'green route' and the 'gold route'. Dr Paul
Ayris, head of UCL Library Services since 1997, is well placed to
explain the differences between the two colours. Ayris was the key
speaker at the summer school of the League of European Research
Universities (LERU). Shortly ago LERU published a roadmap towards
open access, under the auspices of Dr Ayris.
"The 'green route' is very much like what would normally happen
if you publish a book", Ayris explains. "But next to publishing a
book with a publisher, you also put an open access copy in an open
access repository. The reasons to opt for the 'green route' is to
have the benefits of the peer review-system that maintains the
quality of the scientific work. Open access repositories don't
offer peer review services. Another advantage: the benefits to the
user. Publishing a book doesn't depend on the ability to pay up
front. All the same through open access the author gets cited a
The paying author
"The 'gold route' on the other hand means that you publish a
book or an article with an open access publisher only the funding
is different. In a commercial environment a library pays
subscription costs to the publisher. In the 'golden open access'
it's not the library that pays, but the author. This is also the
model advised by the Finch Group."
According to Paul Ayris, publishers would be more comfortable
with the 'gold model', because they would have a secure income
stream in times where there are huge changes in the field of
scholarly communication. No wonder the Finch Group - in which
the publishing business was represented - went for 'gold'.
No support for Finch
Finch report was not widely supported by universities in the
UK", Ayris tells ScienceGuide. "You see, not every researcher is
funded by research funders. The Finch report simply advocates that
the UK Research Council finances the researchers, but that doesn't
solve the question of foreign access to research findings. The
universities would simply have to greatly increase their budgets."
University College London is certainly not opting for the 'gold
route', Paul Ayris concedes.
A good example of a publisher that has quickly adapted to the
new circumstances is Amsterdam University Press, says Paul Ayris.
"They publish monographs as well as journals in open access." An
example of a successful open access journal is the PLoS suite of journals (PLoS
meaning Public Library of Science). Another title Ayris mentions is
eLife, an open access journal to be launched next year and
which should rival journals like Science and Nature.
Exiting and frightening
The transition to open access will have huge implications for
the science community. "I think it's both exciting and
frightening", Paul Ayris confides. "Frightening because we are
trying to make this change, while letting the research and the
teaching go on as usual. With the current economic circumstances,
the major hurdle is that all this change can't increase our