Elsevier & Open Access: „the primary reason to transition to gold open access should not be to save money“

ElsevierToday Elsevier published its vision of Open Access, written by Gemma Hersh, and suggests a route that is neither green nor gold, but a mixture of it, one could say blue Open Access: Articles published by European institutions should be available Gold Open Access within Europe and – if deposited on a repository – Green Open Access outside of Europe. It is also made clear that Elsevier’s Gold Open Access will be expensive.

These are some of the key statements:

  • As about 80 percent of all journal articles are still  published in Closed Access journals, Green Open Access will remain an important Open Access strategy.
  • Elsevier considers Europe „a region where a transition to fully gold open access is likely to be most cost-neutral“.  According to Elsevier this is not the case for „other research-intensive countries such as the US, China and Japan“.
  • Elsevier suggests that for Europe it would be recommendable to „enable European articles to be available gold open access within Europe and green open access outside of Europe.“ Somehow in the mentioned green-golden mixture.
  • Referring to a paper of the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers (STM) Elsevier continues to explain „that average APCs would need to rise to fund the infrastructure currently paid for via the 80 percent of articles published under the subscription model. In any event, APCs are likely to be higher than they are today even just accounting for inflation and the continuing global growth in research output, which is currently about 4 percent a year.“
  • Furthermore, funding for global Gold Open Access would also have to replace subscription revenues from commercial enterprises or other non HE-institutions. According to Elsevier, these account for 25% of the income in the Cosed Access model.
  • Elsevier also emphasizes the transitions costs in a mixed Gold Open Access and Closed Access era: „In a world where more than 80 percent of articles continue to be published under the subscription model, any country that moves to gold open access first would need to pay to broadcast its articles while also continuing to subscribe to the rest of the world’s content published under the subscription model if they want to retain access to articles published elsewhere (and not supported by gold OA).“

The core message of the text summarizes all this and sheds light on the further price development to be expected by Elsevier: „We [Elsevier] believe that the primary reason to transition to gold open access should not be to save money“.

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