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Gold Open Access vs. Green Open Access: what’s the difference?

Your manuscript can be published as an Open Access (OA) article via two different routes: green or gold. Green OA and gold OA are terms used by the publishing community to indicate how OA is implemented for your article, i.e., the way your research is provided to the final users (e.g., readers). The question is, however, what’s the difference between these two options? And what are the advantages and disadvantages of green OA and gold OA publishing?

Gold Open Access: Gold OA is the type of OA publishing that researchers are most familiar with. Gold OA allows the final version of your article (post-print) to be freely and permanently accessible to everyone, immediately after publication. Most permission barriers are removed, and copyright for the article is retained by the authors. Articles published via gold OA can be published in either fully OA journals (where all content is published OA) or in hybrid journals (a subscription-based journal with OA options).

Advantages: The primary advantage of gold OA is that your published work is available immediately without restrictions. With gold OA, you can freely share your article, and anyone (with an internet connection) can access your work for free.

Disadvantages: Gold OA is expensive. Gold OA typically requires an article processing charge (up to $4000) to be paid to the journal publisher upon acceptance of your manuscript.

Green Open Access: Also known as self-archiving, green OA is the practice of placing a version (pre- or post-print) of your manuscript into a repository, making it freely accessible. However, the version of your article that is deposited into the repository is dependent on the funder or publisher. Therefore, in contrast to gold OA, the copyright for green OA articles typically remains with the publisher or society, and there are specific terms and conditions that determine how and when the article may be made openly accessible in the repository (known as an ‘embargo period,’ usually 6–24 months after the article has been published). Green OA publishing is available in most fully OA and hybrid journals.

Advantages: Green OA is inexpensive; following an embargo period, your article will be fully accessible, for no extra charge.

Disadvantages: The final version of your article is not available immediately; thus, if major revisions were completed post-peer review, the article in the repository will not reflect those revisions. Furthermore, there are numerous journal- and publisher-specific restrictions imposed on self-archiving.

For more information, a list of publishers’ self-archiving (green OA) policies can be found here:
Sherpa Romeo

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