For those with patience for logic, here is how the ambiguity crept into the RCUK Open Access Policy, where it resides, and why it is all the more important to set it right promptly, before it takes root:
The Two Tweaks Needed
to Disambiguate RCUK OA Policy
The Research Councils will recognise a journal as being compliant with their policy on Open Access if:1. [GOLD] The journal provides via its own website immediate and unrestricted access to the publisher’s final version of the paper (the Version of Record), and allows immediate deposit of the Version of Record in other repositories without restriction on re-use. This may involve payment of an ‘Article Processing Charge’ (APC) to the publisher. The CC-BY license should be used in this case.
2. [GREEN] *REMOVE*
Where a publisher does not offer option 1 above,*REMOVE* the journal must allow deposit of Accepted Manuscripts that include all changes resulting from peer review (but not necessarily incorporating the publisher’s formatting) in other repositories, without restrictions on non-commercial re-use and within a defined period. In this option no ‘Article Processing Charge’ will be payable to the publisher. Research Councils will accept a delay of no more than six months between on-line publication and a research paper becoming Open Access, except in the case of research papers arising from research funded by the AHRC and the ESRC where the maximum embargo period is 12 months.
ADD: "Where a journal offers both suitable green (2.) and suitable gold (1.) options the PI may choose the option he or she thinks most appropriate" .
GOLD means the journal makes the article OA with CC-BY ("Libre OA"), usually for a fee.These two definitions are not what is in dispute here.
GREEN means the author makes the article OA ("Gratis OA") by depositing it in a repository, and making it OA within 0-12 months of publication.
(1) the author's choice of which journal is an RCUK-suitable journal to publish in (this is the between-journalschoice)and then, if the journal offers both the GREEN and GOLD option:
(2) the author's choice of which option to pick (this is the within-journal choice).A perfectly clear and unambiguous way to state the intended policy would be:
An RCUK-suitable journal is one that offersThat would dispel all ambiguity.
(i) GREEN only or (ii) GOLD only or (iii) BOTH (i.e., hybrid GREEN+GOLD).
An RCUK author may choose (i), (ii) or (iii).
If the choice is (iii), the RCUK author may choose GREEN or GOLD.
An RCUK-suitable journal is one that offers (i) GOLD, or, if it does not offer GOLD, then an RCUK-suitable journal is one that offers (ii) GREEN OA.The possibility that the journal offers (iii) both (i.e., hybrid GREEN+GOLD) is not mentioned, and the between-journals choice of journal is hence left completely conflated with the within-journal choice of option.
"Where a publisher does not offer option 1 above" [i.e., does not offer GOLD]would remove the conflation and the ambiguity.
"Where a journal offers both suitable green (2.) and suitable gold (1.) options" [i.e., hybrid GREEN+GOLD] , "the PI may choose the option he or she thinks most appropriate"This would make it perfectly clear that if a hybrid GREEN+GOLD journal is chosen, the author is free to choose either its GREEN or GOLD option.
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