Open Access?

K. Kalogeropoulos, Dr. of  Cultural Technology, University of the Aegean

What exactly does open access mean? One of the interpretations of the word open is the one that leaves the passage free that has no obstacles[1]. The access is defined as the place, the passage from where one can approach somewhere[2]. So in simple words open access is the unobstructed approach. In this case, open access to knowledge and all its contributors is the unimpeded approach of knowledge by those who produce and those who usually acquire knowledge through a scientific journal. Real open access, therefore, concerns the authors, the publisher, and the end recipients, i.e. the users or readers. In other words, real open access is digital in its form, free of charges and licensing restrictions[3].

Open access as business for profit
According to Harvey (2017) “What was initially conceived as a liberatory regime of collaborative production of an open access commons has been transformed into a regime of hyper-exploitation upon which capital freely feeds. The unrestrained pillage by big capital (like Amazon and Google) of the free goods produced by a self-skilled labour force has become a major feature of our times. This carries over into the so-called cultural industries[4].

In open access, various profitable models are used, among them the so-called gold model. In the gold OA model, the publisher provides all the articles and related content on the magazine’s website for free. In such publications, articles are licensed for sharing and reuse through Creative Commons or related licenses[5]. In most of journals that follow the specific Article Processing Charge (APC) model, the authors have to pay for the publication of the article[6], although this is not an inherent property of OA gold model[7]. In this model the author is out of the equation in terms of Open Access.

Green model of OA is following which is actually model of self-archiving by the authors[8]. Regardless of the publication by a publisher, the author also publishes the work on a website to which he or she has access, to the research institution that sponsors or hosts the work, or to an independent central open repository where end users can download the work without paying any fees[9]. The Green model is theoretically open for the author; however some publishers charge a fee for an additional service, such as lifting the embargo on parts of the copyrighted version of an article[10].

The Green OA model is widespread, but is under pressure from publishers, who impose various embargoes, to delay self-archiving and gain profit in the long run[11]. Although clearly authors have more academic freedom in this model, by the primary definition of Open Access they are also out of the equation.

Hybrid OA model refers to hybrid open access magazines, which contain a mix of open access articles and closed access articles[12]. The publisher following this model is partly funded by subscriptions and provides open access only to those individual articles for which the authors (or research sponsors) pay publication fees[13]. The OA hybrid publishing fees are charged in addition to the subscription fees, with the result that publishers are paid twice for the same content. Although publishers argue that the two sources of revenue are kept separate and that there is no double charge, Pinfield et al. (2016) indicate the opposite[14]. Using data from the United Kingdom, Pinfield says APC payments are now an important part of the relationship between universities and publishers and “significantly increase the overall cost of publishing”. The hybrid model does not provide transparent controls for double charging other than issuers’ assurances. Even if there are such assurances the issue remains unclear, as it is often difficult to verify[15].

If publishers really want to prove that there is no double charge, they should be completely transparent about their prices and revenue and be prepared to open their books for independent check. In this case, too, the authors remain clearly out of the equation.

Bronze CA refers to open access articles that are read for free only on the publisher’s page, but do not have a clearly identifiable license[16]. Such items are usually not available for reuse. The occasional study of prominent hybrid magazines by major commercial publishers reveals that many articles have been flagged as “free”. However, this “free” tag may mean that it is free to read only on the magazine’s website. The publisher can, in theory, revoke this access any time. The value of this free access is clearly in the publisher’s favor. He displays some free articles that he believes will attract readers, attention and citations to his magazine. This increases the magazine’s reputation and at the same time increases the subscription fees to institutions and readers[17]. Out of the equation remains the author, whose work is of course used as a means of increasing the publisher’s profit.

Diamond OA: Trends to the future
The Diamond OA model is associated with scientific journals that publish in open access free of charge for authors to edit articles[18] and is sometimes referred to as “platinum OA”. As neither readers, nor authors are charged any kind of fees, publishers often look for alternative sources of funding, either from the community surrounding the journal or from outside sources, such as contributions from academic institutions and organizations[19].

According to research conducted on this collaborative community-based publishing model, better organization, coordination, and funding are needed to support research authors in disseminating their work. Researchers consider the specific data necessary for the long-term viability of this open access model and the revelation of its full potential in the context of open science[20].

How can the Diamond Open Access model be promoted? The promotion concerns policy measures and material support. Much of the money from taxation goes to universities and libraries to pay for subscriptions to closed access journals, and purchasing of books by corporate publishers. In addition, financial institutions that have publishing programs oblige researchers and authors to enter a grant program. These grants go directly or indirectly to corporate publishers. Direct and indirect funding of corporate publications is abandoned in this Open Access model, which needs “innovative policy measures to support the publication of Diamond Open Access magazines and books (DOA)” [21].

Fuchs and Sandoval (2013) propose such a key body of innovative policy measures:

a) Public funding models for Diamond Open Access (DOA) that enable such projects to employ editorial assistants, copyeditors, proof readers, designers, technicians, etc;
b) Mandatory funding-, research evaluation- and promotion-policies by research councils, higher education and research assessment institutions, universities, faculties and departments that only take Diamond Open Access (DOA) publications into account or give specific priority in reviews, promotions and research evaluations to such publications;
c) Universities should implement policies that give special consideration to the work as editor, managing editor, reviewer or editorial board member for Diamond Open Access (DOA);
d) Substitution of the major role played by the Science Citation Index (SCI), the Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) and the Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI) in many academic evaluations by the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).
e) All research councils in the world should introduce mandatory policies that regulate that scholars who receive funding are obliged to publish in Diamond Open Access (DOA)[22]”.

We agree on the replacement of indexes created by corporate publishers for corporate publishers, and on the fact that different roles (i.e. the peer reviewer) are highlighted, but we disagree that DOAJ is a List of Open Access Magazines, for reasons that we will explain in different section, concerning the so-called Open Access Directories.

[1], accessed 07/25/2021.
[2], accessed 07/25/2021.
[3] Suber 2012, 4.
[4] Harvey 2017, 96.
[5] Suber 2012, 68-69.
[6] Schroter and Tite 2006, 141-148.
[7] Eve 2014, 1-42.
[8] Green with a upper G refers to open-access copy self-archiving for the end user, while green with a lower ‘g’ refers to the RoMEO (Rights Metadata for Open Archiving) color code regarding the publisher’s self-archiving policy.
[9] Gadd and Troll Covey 2019, 106.
[10] Gadd and Troll Covey 2019, 114.
[11] Peruginelli and Faro 2019, 118.
[12] Laakso and  Björk 2016, 919-932. Also Suber 2012, 140-141.
[13] Suber 2012, 140.
[14] Pinfield et al. 2016, 1751-1766.
[15] Björk & Solomon, 2014, 93-103.
[16] Piwowar et al.2018, e4375.
[17] Costello 2019, 69-72.
[18] Fuchs and Sandoval 2013, 428. Επίσης, Gajović 2017, 261.
[19] Normand 2018, 3-4.
[20] Bosman et al. 2021, 6.
[21] Fuchs and Sandoval 2013, 339.
[22] Fuchs and Sandoval 2013, 339-340.

Björk, B.C., & Solomon, D. 2014. How research funders can finance APCs in full OA and hybrid journals, Learned Publishing, 27(2), 93-103.
Bosman, J., Frantsvåg, J E., Kramer, B., Langlais, P-C., & Proudman, V. 2021. “OA Diamond Journals Study. Part 1: Findings”, Zenodo, 6-128.
Costello, E. 2019. “Bronze, free, or fourrée: An open access commentary”, Science Editing, 6 (1): 69-72.
Fuchs, C., Sandoval, M. 2013. “The diamond model of open access publishing: Why policy makers, scholars, universities, libraries, labour unions and the publishing world need to take non-commercial, non-profit open access serious”. TripleC. 13(2): 428-443.
Gadd, E., Troll Covey, D. 2019. “What does ‘green’ open access mean? Tracking twelve years of changes to journal publisher self-archiving policies,” Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 51(1): 106-122.
Gajović, S.2017. “Diamond Open Access in the quest for interdisciplinarity and excellence”. Croatian Medical Journal. 58(4): 261–262.
Eve, M. P. 2014. “Introduction, or why open access?” In Open Access and the Humanities, (1-42), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Harvey, D. 2017. Marx, Capital and the Madness of Economic Reason, London: Profile Books.
Laakso, M., Björk, B.C. 2016. “Hybrid open access—A longitudinal study”, Journal of Informetrics. 10 (4): 919-932.
Normand, S. 2018. “Is Diamond Open Access the Future of Open Access?.” The iJournal: Graduate Student Journal of the Faculty of Information, 3(2): 1-7.
Peruginelli, G., Faro, S. 2019. Knowledge of the Law in the Big Data Age, Amsterdam: IOS Press.
Pinfield, S., Salter, J., Bath, P.A. 2016. The “total cost of publication” in a hybrid open-access environment: Institutional approaches to funding journal article-processing charges in combination with subscriptions. J Assn Inf Sci Tec, 67: 1751-1766.
Piwowar, H., Priem, J., Larivière, V., Alperin, J.P., Matthias, L., Norlander, B., Farley, A., West, J. Haustein, St. 2018. “The state of OA: a large-scale analysis of the prevalence and impact of Open Access articles”. Peer J. 6: e4375.
Suber, P. 2012. Open Access, Cambridge & Mass.: MIT Press.
Schroter, S., Tite, L. 2006. “Open access publishing and author-pays business models: a survey of authors’ knowledge and perceptions”. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. 99(3): 141-148.

to be continued…