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If you have been following recent developments in open access (OA), you will have heard mentioned the different OA 'routes' available such as gold or green. Confused? You are not alone, so in this article we explore Green Open Access and what it means - not only for researchers, but for your journal and the wider public.

What is Green Open Access (OA)?

The term Green OA refers to an author posting a version of their article (usually as an accepted manuscript) on their personal or institutional website. It is essentially self-archiving of their research. It means that in addition to subscribers accessing and using their final published article, anyone in their institution, or indeed outside, can also access and read the draft version of their paper.

Green OA is dependent on the subscription model. The costs incurred during submission, peer-review process and subsequent publishing and dissemination are all covered by subscriptions. This is different to the Gold Open Access model where authors cover the costs associated with publication, and their final published articles are immediately available and permanently free for readers to access and reuse.

Elsevier’s perspective

Our posting policy allows authors publishing in an Elsevier journal to voluntarily add their accepted author manuscript to either their personal or institutional website.

However, if a particular institution or funding body has a mandate or systematically organizes posting, this can have an impact on the sustainability of the journals involved. In this case, we require a posting agreement between the institution or funder and Elsevier. This agreement allows the maximum benefit for the public - who can access the research from repositories - while allowing the journals to remain sustainable and operational in the future.

More information about our policies can be found on our website.

What does this mean for authors?

When submitting to a journal, authors will increasingly need to ensure they comply with new OA policies and mandates which have details about Green OA or self-archiving.

We are actively engaging with funding bodies and institutions to establish posting agreements that will allow us to test and learn how best to support Green OA. For example, we have a long-standing arrangement with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), through which Elsevier deposits around 18,000 manuscripts into PubMed Central on an annual basis.

We have also established agreements with organizations such as The World Bank and World Health Organization which allow employees to post to open repositories.

These agreements have been designed to allow authors to continue submitting and publishing in Elsevier journals, while we ensure that the journals remain sustainable, both now and in the future.

How does the public benefit?

Green OA is an alternative route to enable the public to access research. Repositories such as PubMed Central and World Health Organization provide another viable way for people to search for, and find, research. In addition to these types of repositories, Elsevier has funded an Open Archives initiative. This enables archived material in 82 journals to become open access after an embargo period. This period varies depending on the journal in question, but is normally between 12-48 months. For example, all Cell Press articles are free to access after a period of 12 months.

Sustainable Green Open Access

Our aim is to ensure we continue to facilitate access to research. For us this means working with institutions, governments and funders to find a workable solution, sustainable for our journals, which will help to maintain such access long into the future.

Author biography

David Tempest

David Tempest
David is involved in strategy development and implementation of access initiatives. In addition, he acts as a key contact between Elsevier and funding organizations, universities and research institutions around the world. He has worked at Elsevier for more than 16 years, initially in editorial and marketing positions before taking on the management of the scientometric research and market analysis department. He has a BSc in pharmacology from the University of Sunderland and an MBA with distinction from Oxford Brookes University.