Green and Gold


The different publication pathways

The key takeaways from this article are


Open access generally distinguishes between gold open access and green open access.


Gold open access refers to the open access first publication in journals, monographs, or as a contribution to collections. These texts usually undergo the same quality assurance process as closed access works.


Green open access (also known als self archiving) refers to making a work published with a publisher available in an institutional or disciplinary repository. It is sometimes understood to refer also to making such a work available on the author’s personal website.

The Golden Path

The golden path of open access publishing - also called open access gold - refers to the initial publication of scholarly works as articles in open access journals, as an open access monograph, or as a contribution to an open access collective work or conference proceedings. These texts usually undergo the same quality assurance process as closed-access works, usually in the form of peer review or editorial review. A publication contract is usually concluded with the publisher, which determines which rights of use the authors grant to the publisher and which terms of use are to apply to the openly accessible docu­ments. Such a contract is often supplemented by an open access publication license, through which the authors can grant users more extensive and precisely specified rights.


Both open-access and closed-access publications need to be funded. The op­tions for financing OA publications are similar to those used to finance closed-access publications: through the sale of print copies, unpaid support from the scientific community as well as from scientific institutions and volunteer work, through advertising or sponsorship. In some cases, cross-funding also takes place: especially commercial publishers who want to try out the open access gold business model finance new journals through income from the subscrip­tion business. Publication fees or article processing charges (APCs) are some­times cited as a typical funding model in open access gold, though publication fees are also widely used in closed access (Gutknecht, 2018). APCs are due per accepted and published article (for monographs correspondingly book proces­sing charges (BPCs)). APCs can be combined with institutional memberships: If a publishing author belongs to an institution that has an institutional member­ship with an open access publisher, the open access publisher will cover all or part of the publication costs. Many institutions also offer other ways of reimbursing these costs, e.g. via publication funds.

Video about the Funding of Open Access Articles

Video about the Funding of Open Access Monographs

The Green Path

Green open access – also known as self-archiving – refers to making a work published with a publisher available to the public in an institutional or discipli­nary open access repository. It is sometimes understood to refer also to ma­king such a work available on the author’s personal website. Self-archiving can take place at the same time as the publication of the content by the publisher or at a later date, and is possible for preprints and post-prints of scholarly articles, as well as for other document types, for example, monographs, research reports, and conference proceedings.

Preprint und Postprint

A preprint is a scientific publication that has not (yet) been peer-reviewed, i.e. the quality has not yet been finally assessed in a peer-review process. A preprint is sometimes also referred to as a text in the form of its manuscript version that has been submitted to a journal or publisher for publication.

In contrast to a preprint, a postprint is a text that has already been reviewed and accepted for publication. Postprints come in two forms. On the one hand, a postprint can be completely identical to the version published by the publisher (the so-called publisher's version or version of record). On the other hand, the postprint can be identical to this publisher's version in terms of content, but differ from it in terms of formatting, layout or pagination, for example. In this second case, one speaks of the accepted author's manuscript. The willingness of publishers to allow second publication of postprints or preprints is quite variable. An overview of what publishers allow authors to publish is provided in the Sherpa Romeo directory. German secondary publication law allows authors to publish postprints under certain conditions.

Variants of the Green Path

In the open access discussion, three forms of the green path are distinguished. Papers can be made accessible on institutional repositories. In this case, au­thors have the option of depositing their scientific texts on an interdisciplinary document server of their institution (e.g. university). Disciplinary repositories, on the other hand, make scientific documents available in a thematically bundled form (e.g. for a specific discipline), regardless of which institution the author belongs to. A third variant is the deposit of scientific documents on one's own website. However, such an approach means that the documents deposited in this way are generally less visible than in the case of archiving on institutional or disciplinary repositories. Moreover, their long-term availability is not guaranteed, so that self-archiving is often not recognized as a form of open access, e.g. in the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities.


Middle Ways

There are also gradual intermediate positions between gold and green open access. For example, the social science repository Social Science Research Network (SSRN) allows authors both to make their already published journal articles available in open access and to post and share the preprint versions of their manuscripts and submit them to SSRN partner journals. The epijournals, or overlay journals (Gowers, 2015), in mathematics are another example. These are open access journals that use the infrastructure of preprint servers or repositories. Authors deposit the preprint versions of their manuscripts in arXiv or Hyper Articles en Ligne (HAL) and then submit them for publication to one of the epijournals. If a submission is accepted after peer review, the original preprint version continues to remain available alongside the publisher’s version. Some Copernicus Publications and F1000 journals operate according to a similar principle, with open peer review. Closed access publishers use arXiv in a similar way by enabling manuscripts deposited there to be automatically ingested into their own submission workflows. Depositing a preprint of an article in an open access repository before publishing it with a publisher has characteristics of gold and green open access. Publishing documents such as dissertations or publication series for the first time in a repository is also a kind of hybrid form of gold and green open access. Because the works are being published for the first time, the publication can be regarded as gold open access. However, publication takes place in repositories, which are normally used to provide green open access to works.

Besides green and gold open access publications, other variants are sometimes assigned colour symbols, too (Piwowar et al., 2018; Schmeja, 2018). These publications may not be open access in the strict sense, for example, when a journal article can be read free of charge but is not reusable in the long term.

Video about the Open Access Rainbow


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