Which one is better? Green Open Access or GOLD Open Access

Your manuscript has the opportunity for publication as an Open Access (OA) article through two distinct routes: green or gold. There are two roads to OA: the “golden” road (publish your article in an OA journal) and the “green” road (publish your article in a non-OA journal but also self-archive it in an OA archive) [1].

Achieving open access for journal articles can be realized through two primary avenues. The first, known as the “green route,” entails publishing in a subscription-based journal while also depositing a copy of the article in an institutional repository, a practice referred to as self-archiving. Alternatively, the “gold route” involves publishing in an open access journal directly, ensuring unrestricted access to the article from the moment of publication.

Types of OA models:

Green open access:

Green Open Access (OA), often known as self-archiving, entails the act of depositing a version of an author’s manuscript into a repository, thereby granting universal access to it. The specific version eligible for deposition depends on the guidelines set by the funder or publisher. In contrast to Gold OA, where authors typically retain copyright, in Green OA, the copyright often remains with the publisher or the affiliated society, leading to restrictions on reuse. Each journal or publisher has its own self-archiving policies dictating terms and conditions, such as which version of the article can be used and the duration of any embargo period before the article can be openly accessible in the repository. Calls for open access advocates, funders, institutions and authors to redefine what ‘green’ means to better reflect a publisher’s commitment to self-archiving [2].

Gold open access:

Gold Open Access (OA) revolutionizes scholarly publishing by ensuring that the definitive version of an article is promptly and perpetually available to all, without cost barriers. Authors maintain copyright ownership, liberating their research from restrictive permissions. Gold OA accommodates publication in two primary avenues: fully OA journals, where all content is openly accessible, or hybrid journals, which, while traditionally subscription-based, extend an OA pathway for authors who opt for broader dissemination of their work. The identified top Gold Open Access journals proved to be well-established and their impact is generally increasing for all the analyzed indicators [3].

Both Green Open Access and Gold Open Access represent invaluable strategies for ensuring the widespread availability of research outputs. Now, let’s delve into the nuanced disparities between these two approaches:

  1. Green Open Access (Self-Archiving):
    • Definition: Green OA involves self-archiving a version of the manuscript in an OA repository (such as an institutional repository or a subject-specific repository).
    • Process: After publishing in a traditional subscription-based journal, authors can deposit a preprint or postprint version of their article in an OA repository.
    • Accessibility: The manuscript becomes freely accessible to everyone once the self-archiving embargo period (if any) has elapsed.
    • Discoverability: While less discoverable than gold OA content, it still contributes to broader access.
    • Version: Typically, the accepted manuscript (AM) after peer review but before copyediting and typesetting is archived.
    • Licensing: The terms for sharing and reusing the content depend on the license chosen by the author.
    • Integration with Open Science: Can be linked to open data sets, protocols, and comply with open standards.
    • Viability: Reliant on existing subscriptions to fund publishing infrastructure.
  2. Gold Open Access (Direct Publishing):
    • Definition: Gold OA involves publishing articles or books directly via the OA route on a publisher’s platform.
    • Process: Authors submit their work to OA journals or platforms that make content freely accessible upon publication.
    • Accessibility: Articles are accessible immediately upon publication.
    • Discoverability: Easily discoverable on the publisher’s platform alongside other relevant content.
    • Version: Final published version of record (VOR) after copyediting and typesetting.
    • Licensing: Often uses open licenses (e.g., CC BY) allowing users to build on, adapt, and share onwards.
    • Integration with Open Science: Can be seamlessly integrated into the open research ecosystem.
    • Viability: Supported by article processing charges (APCs) or transformative agreements.

Both green and gold open access initiatives aim to enhance the accessibility of scholarly works to the public. These approaches facilitate the dissemination of knowledge by offering publications under licenses that afford minimal to no restrictions on their reuse. Crucially, authors maintain copyright ownership, ensuring their intellectual property rights are preserved. Additionally, agreements commonly include the integration of a Creative Commons license selected by the author, further empowering users to utilize and build upon the scholarly content with clarity and flexibility.


  1. Harnad, S., Brody, T., Valliè res, F. O., Carr, L., Hitchcock, S., Gingras, Y., … & Hilf, E. R. (2004). The access/impact problem and the green and gold roads to open access. Serials review30(4), 310-314.
  2. 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 Science51(1), 106-122.
  3. Gumpenberger, C., Ovalle-Perandones, M. A., & Gorraiz, J. (2013). On the impact of gold open access journals. Scientometrics96, 221-238.

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