The different models of Open Access

There are two main models, or ‘routes’, to Open Access: the Gold route and the Green route.

Gold Open Access

In the Gold route the author, institution, or research funder pays an Open Access Fee (sometimes referred to as an Article Processing Charge or Book Processing Charge) and the publisher makes the published version free to read.

Funders have typically regarded Gold as the most desirable model of Open Access and, as such, when this blog is discussing Open Access it is primarily referring to the Gold route to Open Access.

Green Open Access

In the Green route the reader pays to read the publisher’s ‘version of record’, but there is also a manuscript (where the text is very similar to the published version but has not been typeset by the publishers) that is free to read and is available from a platform like an institutional repository.

RADAR is the institutional repository for Oxford Brookes from which the Green manuscripts of publications written by Oxford Brookes researchers can be freely downloaded: visit the Staff Publications section of RADAR. You will also find the versions of record published as Gold Open Access on RADAR.

Green Open Access is certainly a good model during a transition to Gold Open Access, but in the long run the integrity of the academic record is unlikely to be aided by having multiple versions of manuscripts available and, on a practical level, it can make the finding of an accessible version of a text even more complex than it already is through the ‘reader pays’ subscription model.

Other models of Open Access

Bronze Open Access

In the Bronze model no Open Access Fee is paid but the publisher chooses to make a publication freely available to read. Many Open Access advocates and research funders would not regard Bronze as truly Open Access because the publisher can stop the publications being freely available at any time (i.e. it relies upon the good will of the publisher), whereas genuinely Open Access publications have a specific licence (often a Creative Commons licence) that means the publication is irrevocably Open Access and the terms of use and reuse are clearly stated.

Platinum/Diamond Open Access

In the Platinum or Diamond routes the authors, institutions, or funders do not pay an Open Access Fee and the reader does not pay to read. In effect, this is a ‘publisher-pays’ model and is usually offered by university presses where the costs of publication are subsumed within existing budgets and regarded as part of the mission of a university. Platinum/Diamond is an excellent model for Open Access, but it is highly unlikely that it could replace the scale of commercial scholarly publishers in a reasonable timeframe.

Continue reading: The problem with paywalls

Header image credit
Chatzigiannis, E. (2011) “Observing Density Through Standing Waves” by Efthymios Chatzigiannis. Available from: (Accessed 17 October 2018)