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Definitions and Terms

RoMEO Colours  |  Pre-print and Post-print  |  Mandated Open Access  |  Paid Open Access

RoMEO colours

We have used different colours to help highlight publisher's archiving policies. These colours are a development from the original RoMEO project list, and differentiate between four categories of archiving rights:

ROMEO colour Archiving policy
green can archive pre-print and post-print or publisher's version/PDF
blue can archive post-print (ie final draft post-refereeing) or publisher's version/PDF
yellow can archive pre-print (ie pre-refereeing)
white archiving not formally supported

Each publisher's entry is coded according to one of these colour categories.

The entry for each publisher also lists conditions or restrictions imposed by the publisher which govern archiving rights or activities. Conditions are taken as terms which can be easily accommodated and which do not hinder an author in archiving their work. A typical condition is to acknowledge the publisher's copyright in the work. Restrictions are more prohibitive, typically requiring some additional action on behalf of the author. Where a Restriction effectively blocks access to the eprint, such as in the case of an embargo on its public release, or requiring password-controlled access, then the partial archiving right is noted but the full colour categorisation does not apply.

Sometimes open access discussions talk about "gold" publishers. This is a later development independent of RoMEO categories, and is used to describe publishers of open access journals. For the purposes of archiving, all open access journals allow archiving and can be taken as RoMEO "green".

Some of the larger publishers have different archiving rights for different journals. This is particularly the case where they publish learned society journals on behalf of the society. A learned society might insist on a more liberal, or more restrictive archiving policy than the general publisher's copyright agreement allows. The RoMEO colour coding relates to the overall permissions given by a publisher. For example, a publisher has to apply the "green" archiving rights across all of their journals for their code to be "green".

Pre-print and Post-print

The terms pre-print and post-print are used to mean different things by different people. This can cause some confusion and ambiguity.

One usage of the term pre-print is to describe the first draft of the article - before peer-review, even before any contact with a publisher. This use is common amongst academics for whom the key modification of an article is the peer-review process.

Another use of the term pre-print is for the finished article, reviewed and amended, ready and accepted for publication - but separate from the version that is type-set or formatted by the publisher. This use is more common amongst publishers, for whom the final and significant stage of modification to an article is the arrangement of the material for putting to print.

Such diverse meanings can be confusing and can change the understanding of a copyright transfer agreement.

To try to clarify the situation, this listing characterises pre-prints as being the version of the paper before peer review and post-prints as being the version of the paper after peer-review, with revisions having been made.

This means that in terms of content, post-prints are the article as published. However, in terms of appearance this might not be the same as the published article, as publishers often reserve for themselves their own arrangement of type-setting and formatting. Typically, this means that the author cannot use the publisher-generated .pdf file, but must make their own .pdf version for submission to a repository.

Having said that, some publishers insist that authors use the publisher-generated .pdf - seemingly because the publishers want their material to be seen as a professionally produced .pdf that fits with their own house-style.

This listing tries to separate out the differing definitions and conditions implied by the use of the terms within each publisher's copyright transfer agreement and categorises the permissions and conditions accordingly. All information is correct to the best of our knowledge but should not be relied upon for legal advice.

Mandated Open Access

A growing number of research funders are now making it a condition of grant that a duplicate of any research paper be placed on a repository for open access. RoMEO's companion listing, JULIET, analyses these mandates and recommendations.

These mandates are applied as a condition of grant, so resulting research papers can have archiving conditions already attached before submission to any journal. This can mean that where publishers neither allow archiving nor comply with the mandate's requirements, that authors are unable to submit material to their journals.

We have contacted all the individual publishers, and RoMEO now shows where publishers' standard terms comply with the mandates of individual funding bodies, with a tick or cross given for compliance or otherwise.

Interestingly, compliance does not depend on the colour categorisation of the publisher. A publisher can be Green, allowing both pre-print and post-print archiving, and yet fail to comply with a funder's archiving mandate. Where this happens, it is often because of a restriction on archiving the post-print in anything other than an institutional repository. As some mandates insist on deposition in a non-institutional or third-party repository (like PubMed Central) this can go against even Green publishers' standard terms.

Alternatively, it is possible for a publisher to be White, allowing neither pre-print nor post-print archiving, and yet comply with a mandate through a special arrangement for a particular funder's authors.

It is intended that RoMEO can assist authors in clarifying whether a particular journal or publisher will accept an article with an existing archiving requirement.

Paid Open Access

Some publishers are now offering an optional arrangement for articles, whereby they offer enhanced visibility of the final article through facilitating some form of free-to-view archiving. Typically this involves a substantial additional fee, which may or may not be included in research costs. Opinions differ as to the desirability of such options and to the scale of charges which are applied.

Details differ between publishers. In some cases, the option simply consists of making the published version freely available from the publisher's own server, without any other rights or permissions being granted. In others, material is still placed under an embargo. Neither of these facilities can be counted as real "open access". Offerings from the major companies include archiving the published version in third party repositories without embargo, which comply with the principal funding mandates.

These arrangements can be seen in a number of ways. A case can be made for this to offer a model for smooth transition to true open access publishing, with publishers reducing their subscriptions as additional income is obtained through this model. As it exists at present, in many cases it can rather be seen as an archiving service offered by publishers, rather than a publishing model.

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