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Diamond Open Access

Diamond Open Access

Free to read and free to publish

Editor’s note: We have also recently published an interview with Louis Lapidaire, founder of United Academics, on this same subject. Have a look!

The primary move towards Open Access is caused by a belief that the results of scientific research are a public good. Therefore, they should be available and accessible to all, regardless of citizens’ ability to pay. Over the years, the Open Access movement has challenged traditional (subscription based) publishers largely through introducing two alternatives: Gold and Green Open Access publishing models. This forced traditional publishers into making changes in their publishing practices.

Gold Open Access faces two challenges. First off, authors or institutions have to pay Article Processing Charges to get their materials published. That means they pay up front to get published materials later ‘for free’. So technically, what they get is not free. Secondly, the articles remain under embargo for a period between six months to one year. Paying for content and not making it accessible to everyone flies right in the face of the Open Access movement.

On the other end of the spectrum lies Green Open Access, which is totally free. There are neither subscription fees nor article processing fees attached to it. Still, there are weaknesses associated with this publishing model. Green Open Access articles are predominantly early pre-print versions of an article, meaning they have not undergone a journal’s rigorous peer review/editorial process yet. This can result in a lack of quality.

Many argue that both Gold and Green models face challenges that pose a threat to the sustainability of Open Access. The third model, Diamond Open Access, attempts to fill the gap left by the Gold and Green Open Access publishing models.

Diamond Open Access, its advocates argue, is an innovative Open Access model which addresses both cost and journal quality concerns. These are critical issues plaguing Open Access journals. For them it is the only model which guarantees the sustainability of open access publishing.

How the new model works

Journal articles published in Diamond Open Access journals have a lot in common with those published in Gold Open Access journals. They both have high quality peer review and editing processes. The principal difference lies in the absence of article processing fees. As mentioned above, the Gold model is made possible by these article processing fees, paid for by authors or institutions. Meanwhile, the Diamond model requires no article processing fees while maintaining journal quality. The emphasis of Diamond OA is on achieving academic goals: making knowledge production, dissemination and consumption as free as possible.

This is realized by volunteers, providing quality editorial and peer review services, who work relentlessly to advance science and to serve the needs of a science-hungry society. These volunteers can be individuals or non-profit organizations who either work for free or fund Diamond Open Access projects. Under the Diamond model both publishing and access to published materials is done free of charge. That means neither authors nor institutions have to pay to publish scholarly materials on Diamond Open Access journals. Moreover, individuals and institutions get access to the published materials for free. In a nutshell, Diamond model hopes to emulate the Wikipedia publishing model.

Incentives for volunteers

Diamond Open Access journals are made possible by batches of volunteers who do editing and reviewing without financial compensation. If this is the case, what are incentives for the potential volunteers? Advocates profess a strong belief that in the absence of financial compensation Diamond Open Access volunteers will still enjoy career benefits, prestige, and recognition from institutions for doing the work. These benefits combined with an earnest motivation to engage in scientific research publication and dissemination will attract plenty of volunteers to do the job.

Hoorn, E., “Diamond open access and open peer review: An analysis of the role of copyright and librarians in the support of a shift towards open access in the legal domain.”, (2014) 20(1) Web JCLI
Fuchs, C. & Sandoval, M. “The Diamond Model of Open Access Publishing: Why Policy Makers, Scholars, Universities, Libraries, Labour Unions and the Publishing World Need to Take Non-Commercial, Non-Profit Open Access Serious”, (2013) Triple C Vol 11.2
Jason M. Kelly – Green, Gold, and Diamond?: A Short Primer On Open Access

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  • Anton Angelo
    November 20, 2015, 04:05

    Excellent piece.

    Libraries are in an excellent place to offer journal infrastructure for editorial groups, a natural place for diamond open access to coalesce. Most academic libraries now publish a few journals one way or another, and the expertise is growing fast. One source of funding for diamond OA could also be in patronage from libraries and their institutions. Libraries can work out where the best spending from their budgets could be for their communities (we do it for subscriptions very well indeed already) so making funding decisions would be relatively easy.

    Licencing conditions are very important as well. Unless the data and articles are reusable in the widest possible sense, there is little point in making them free. Overlay journals that collect OA articles from other journals into themed or multidisciplinary issues will provide another way of cutting through the the problems created by the scarcity of attention that is created by the abundance of information. Without appropriate licencing novel ideas of reuse can’t be performed.

    Also, green OA isn’t as bad as you make out. The majority of publishers are very kind with their conditions for republishing, often only stipulating that the preprint can’t be the same PDF as the published version. Exactly the same words, but just in a different format. Some publishers, of course, are appallingly restrictive, but the majority are quite accepting of it.

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