Routes: Gold & Green

In light of the traditional scientific publication system, two paths in particular have become established in the realisation of open access for scientific publications. These are known as the golden and green routes of open access, or gold open access and green open access. In this context, a distinction is often made between an initial publication and a secondary publication. Gold open access is primarily a question of funding, while green open access is a question of clearing rights. Both routes complement each other with the aim of making as much of the scientific literature as possible freely accessible.

flowchart which illustrates the sequence of publishing via the gold and green open access publishing routes

Illustration: based on a poster by Technische Universität Berlin, in accordance with CC BY 4.0

Gold open access

Gold open access logo (an orange and stylized illustration of an open shackle lock)Gold open access refers to the immediate and free access to a work published for the first time (at its original place of publication). This can be, for example, a scientific journal article or essay in a volume, a monograph, an edited volume, a conference proceedings or a research report.

A large number of open access journals have been founded and journals previously subject to subscriptions have been transformed into open access journals (see the Directory of Open Access Journals for a list). More and more publishers are offering options for the publication of open access books, and pure open access book publishers have also established themselves.

The business models for funding open access publications are diverse and vary by discipline and type of publication. One widely used financing model is the charging of publication fees, which authors can cover in various ways, usually through a university publication fund or through third-party funding provided by a research project or a funding institution.

For the publication of a journal article in a subscription-based journal which publishes the article freely accessible against payment of a fee (i.e., gold open access), the term hybrid open access is used. However, this is only one variant of realising gold open access (see also our glossary). In principle, this model means that both subscription and publication fees for such journals must be paid by the Humboldt-Universität to the publisher of the journal in question. To avoid this negative effect (the so-called double dipping, see the glossary), the University Library only supports this model in the case of general agreements with publishers (see special conditions).

If publishing via gold open access is not possible, we recommend making the publication accessible via green open access.

Green open access

Green open access logo (a green and stylized illustration of an open shackle lock)Green open access refers to the release of a version that has already been published but was not previously freely accessible. In most cases, manuscript versions of such a publication are made freely accessible in this way (usually a preprint or postprint, see the glossary), but it can also be the actual published version (also called the published version, see the glossary). Here, the publication is usually made available via servers connected to the internet for the systematic storage and archiving of such publications, so-called repositories.

Green open access can be achieved through the exercise of authors' rights and through the so-called self-archiving, which usually means the public depositing of a manuscript version of a publication in a repository, which is sometimes only possible after a certain time. In addition, green open access can be achieved through the exercise of the secondary publication right, a provision in German copyright law according to which it is possible, under certain conditions, to make scientific contributions publicly accessible in a manuscript version twelve months after the initial publication. Green open access is primarily relevant for publications in scientific journals, but is also increasingly possible and common for contributions in edited volumes and for monographs.

Please note: Uploading and making a publication available on an academic social network (e.g. ResearchGate or is not the same as green open access and may even constitute a copyright infringement in certain cases. More information on this can be found in our FAQ.