Q&A open access


The FAQ have been categorized according to the following topics: General questions about open access, Questions about open access for scientists, Questions about negotiations with publishers and the role of other stakeholders, Current status on negotiations per publisher (Elsevier, SAGE, Springer, Wiley, OUP, ACS, Taylor & Francis, Wolters Kluwer and other publishers) and How about LingOA.


General questions about open access

What is open access?

Open access is free access to scientific information such as journal articles.

What are the various routes to or models of open access?

Broadly speaking there are two routes to open access: the green route and the gold route.

Green route
The green route is based on authors making their own work public by depositing their manuscript in a repository, which may be affiliated with their institution. That is already possible at all universities in the Netherlands. Note however that in many cases there is an embargo on the final version of articles which have previously been published by a publisher. The researcher can of course always deposit an earlier, text-only version of his manuscript in the repository.

Gold route
Under this model, publications are made available online through the publishers' own platforms. That usually means the publisher is paid in advance to make an article freely accessible immediately. This payment is known as an APC, or Article Processing Charge. These APCs are paid by the researcher’s employer. An increasing number of research funders (including NWO, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research) also provide funding for the payment of these APCs. Many consider the gold route to be the most sustainable route to open access, but for publishers still working under the subscription model it does require a change of business model. A growing number of publishers have already adopted the gold route.

Why didn't the Dutch universities go for 'green open access' with the publishers?

We prefer gold open access as we consider it to be the most durable model. Green open access preserves all aspects of the current, undesirable model and for that reason is at most a temporary solution, not a long-term solution.


We find that there is a growing wish among scientists for a new publication model in which online publishing and data are better connected. Green open access, in which an article is deposited in a repository, is mostly seen as an archiving model and not as a publishing model in its own right. Furthermore, green open access allows publishers’ current business model to stay intact, even though it is not a durable model in the long run. Green open access might be more suitable if publishers were willing to let go of the embargo period, which can last up to 12-24 months, when an article may not yet be placed in an institutional repository. If this embargo period were lifted, additional infrastructure would have to be put in place.


With the gold open access, the valuable elements in the publication process are retained in any case. Scientific publishers work with scientists who assess the quality of the articles of their peers: peer review. The quality of an article determines the journal in which it can be published as well as its impact. Today's system of publishers' peer reviews, plus the fact that the journals affiliated with publishers are already widely known in the respective scientific disciplines, mean that we want the transition to open access to be a joint effort with the existing publishers. This approach will also avoid the creation of any unnecessary additional infrastructure.

What are the advantages of open access for science and for society as a whole?

Open access helps...

  • ... scientists disseminate their research more widely.
  • ... doctors, practitioners and patients become aware of the latest insights into treatment options.
  • ... companies develop and apply innovations, particularly for start-ups.
  • ... scientists in developing countries gain access to scientific knowledge.
  • ... teachers and pupils with their lessons and assignments.
  • ... the general public become aware of the latest scientific developments.

What are the disadvantages of open access for science?

In the long term, there are no disadvantages of open access to science. The transition can, however, cause some temporary practical problems. When making the transition to open access, publishers need to modify their business models so that scientists pay ‘upfront’ (when offering articles for publication) and not afterwards (when reading them). As with any change, some practical problems can emerge in the transition phase, all of which can ultimately be resolved.