Open Access in action. Part 4: Picking up the tab

Open Access in action Part 4: Picking up the tab

Having mentioned the Green Road to open access twice in previous articles, it is time to say a few things about money. 

Green Road open access is free. The author deposits a text in a repository, and does so in accordance with the conditions of the agreement with a publisher. 

There are many variants of these conditions, but by and large 75% of the published articles can be made available in this way, either immediately upon acceptance or after an embargo period. Typically a deposited text will look rather basic, with a simple layout and standard fonts. Focus is on its content.


To collect these manuscripts, the RePub team at the library needs active participation of researchers like those of the Department of Trauma Surgery. The official versions of records of articles can be retrieved from the publishers’ websites – for the journals for which we carry a subscription(!) – but those manuscripts versions are hidden from our view on the computers of the authors. 

The alternative road to open access is often called the Golden Road, and as its nickname suggest, it comes with a price-tag. PLoS ONE, for example, which was used for the article on hip fractures, uses Article Processing Charges (APC’s) of US $ 1,495 per article. This article was written by eight authors working at four different places. Quite a clear and simple arrangement … for a medical publication … but it does make you wonder who picked up the tab. Or did they go Dutch?

Whatever the arrangement, it is clear that the Golden Road model cannot be used for the open access publication of all - four to five thousand - articles published by the EUR researchers every year.

The present situation, as exemplified by the Trauma unit, is hybrid: Green and Golden Road strategies are both used, and occasionally, though rarely, copyright transfer contracts are so restrictive that open access is simply not allowed.