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Grasping What Is Already Within Immediate Reach: Universal Open Access Mandates (Stevan Harnad)

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 Open Access (OA) means free online access to peer-reviewed journal articles (about 2.5 million articles per year, published in about 25,000 journals across all scholarly and scientific disciplines) in order to maximize the usage and impact of research by making it freely accessible to all potential users and not just those whose institutions that can afford to subscribe to the journal in which it happens to be published.

There are two ways to provide OA:

(1) publish in an OA journal, which makes all its articles free online ("Gold OA"); or

(2) publish in a conventional, subscription-based journal, but make the peer-reviewed final draft free online by "self-archiving" it in your institution's OA repository immediately upon acceptance for publication ("Green OA").

Gold OA depends on publishers and entails author publication fees if subscriptions do not cover publication costs. Green OA entails no extra cost, depends only on authors, and can be and is being mandated by their universities and research funders. Yet, for some reason, it is always Gold OA that keeps capturing the imagination and attention of all concerned ("gold fever").  Universal OA is  long overdue even though it is already within the research community's immediate reach. I will argue that OA's biggest and most important priority today, and the one that will deliver universal OA swiftly and without certainty, is hence the immediate universal adoption of Green mandates by universities and funders. All the rest (publication reform, copyright reform) will come with the territory, with universal Green OA. But not if we keep failing to grasp what is already fully within our reach.

Video of Stevan's talk - Part 1 | Part 2.