Emerald Not So Sparkling Green

Emerald 21x30mm spot

If your field is management, economics, healthcare, education, or library science, chances are you’re familiar with the journal publisher Emerald.  For a long time, true to its name, Emerald was a “green” open access publisher — that is, it allowed authors to immediately make their articles open access by self-archiving them in an online repository.  A shining, sparkling example of greenness.

But Emerald has changed its policy.  Now, if self-archiving is “voluntary,” authors may immediately self-archive their articles on their personal websites or ininstitutional repositories (but not, notably, in subject repositories).  But if authors are subject to a mandatory open access policy, they may not self-archive immediately — they must wait 24 months!  Sparkling emerald green no more, Emerald! (Read more here: Open Access: Emerald’s Green starts to fade?)

Is it not possible that someone affected by a mandatory open access policy is also a supporter of open access and thus a voluntary self-archiver?  Since when are individual interest in open access and institutional interest in open access incompatible?

Apparently, since the Research Councils UK released its new open access policy, which favors gold open access (that is, articles made open access by the publisher itself — often contingent on paying a fee) so strongly that it incentivizes publishers to add or extend embargoes on green open access.  (Read more about the flawed RCUK policy.)

Emerald is not the first publisher to try to make a distinction between “voluntary” and “mandated” self-archiving.  Elsevier has tried the “self-archive if you wish but not if you must” trick too: Some Quaint Elsevier Tergiversation on Rights Retention.

Nice try (and by “try” I mean “desperate attempt to forestall the inevitable”), publishers, but nope.  No matter who my employer is and no matter what agencies fund my research, I will always voluntarily make my work open access!

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About Jill Cirasella

Jill Cirasella is the Associate Librarian for Public Services and Scholarly Communication at the Graduate Center, CUNY.
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