Defining Platinum Open Access

platinum nugget

A platinum nugget.
Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Alchemist-hp and used according to the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

Recently I used the term “platinum open access” in an email I sent to several scholarly communication listserves.

I was immediately castigated by Stevan Harnad, one of today’s more bellicose open access advocates.

He blasted, “There is no “Platinum” Road to OA,” reflecting the now little-used “road” metaphor do describe the different types of scholarly open-access publishing.

To back up his claim, he threw in a link to an email he penned five years ago. The email simply stated that there is no such thing as platinum open access.

Platinum open access is a model of scholarly publishing that does not charge author fees. The costs associated with scholarly publication are covered by the benevolence of others, such as through volunteer work, donations, subsidies, grants, etc.

The term has been used for many years in numerous open-access publications, including books and blog entries, and on websites.

Platinum open-access is mentioned in Walt Crawford’s 2011 book Open Access: What You Need to Know Now. ¹

A selection from the book "Open Access: What You Need to Know Now" by Walt Crawford.

A selection from the book “Open Access: What You Need to Know Now” by Walt Crawford.

I think the distinction between gold (author-pays) and platinum open access is significant and the distinction between the two worth maintaining. I’ll continue to make that distinction by using the two terms.

—– —– —– —–

[1]. Crawford, Walt. (2011). Open Access: What You Need to Know Now. Chicago: American Library Association.

17 Responses to Defining Platinum Open Access

  1. […] a relayé la pro­po­si­tion d’une voie de pla­tine (« pla­ti­num road »), déjà pro­po­sée par d’autres, qui se défi­nit par une absence de paie­ment pour l’auteur comme pour le lec­teur, charge […]

  2. Soumyadeep B says:

    Would you be kind enough to write a defination for platinum open access.

    • Felipe G. Nievinski says:

      Platinum Open Access = No-author-fee Gold Open Access
      Gold Open Access = Journal-led Open Access
      Green Open Access = Author-led Open Access (self-archiving)
      There’s also Author-pays Gold Open Access

  3. skanicl says:

    I believe that Stevan Harnad didn’t have in mind “gold” defining “golden road to OA”, but having in mind what golden road turns to be out, I like the term “platinum open access”. It is not misleading as “golden open access”, and it’s somehow returning the real meaning of “open access journals” separating it from commercial sphere.
    The present “golden open access” should be named “in advance paid open access”.
    Soumyadeep B: The platinum open access could have the same definition as golden one, excluding country/institution/author payment for a specific paper to be published.

  4. Felipe G. Nievinski says:

    Here’s a direct link to page 20 on Crawford’s book:

    And here’s a link to Wilson’s 2007 message where he calls it “platinum OA”:

  5. Felipe G. Nievinski says:

    At hindsight, SciELO has been Platinum OA for over 15 years now — 1000+ journals and counting — see: .

  6. Mike Taylor says:

    I agree that Platinum is a useful concept. The only precision I’d offer is that it’s not so much an alternative to Gold as a special case of it. Gold does not entail payment to a journal (although that often happens to be involved): it means only that the journal, rather than the author through self-archiving, makes the paper available.

  7. One of the first journals ever formed to be paperless from the start is Molecular Vision, which began in 1995. Way back, in internet years. Now this respected Journal has almost 20 full years of publishing under its belt and it continues to provide NO-FEE publishing to authors. I dare say, they are a gold-standard example of how to publish open access and the editorial board includes top research scientists and academics in the vision science community. These are men and women who have also served as executive of the two largest vision research societies (ARVO and ISER) and are Fellows of ARVO (FARVO).

    Its likely best just use plain english and state NO-FEE publishing if that is the case. As a reviewer and an author for Molecular Vision, I can attest that my paper submissions get good reviews, and they are real true peer reviews. Usually I need to revise and resubmit.

    I dare say that my colleagues at Emory University who began Molecular Vision were quite “visionary”, and I recall many scientists at the time discussing if a paperless journal would fly. Well, not only have all the older respected paper journals moved into online publishing, many of them have now dropped their paper print versions.

    In today’s (2014) universe of bogus open access for-profit journals, it is nice to remember that there are excellent journals that are open-access, and cost-free to authors, with the support of wonderful sponsors who make this possible.

    Mr Beall, how about a list of Open Access publishers who are doing peer-review and production cost the right way? Like Molecular Vision. (

    Ken Mitton, PhD
    Associate Professor of Biomedical Sciences
    Eye Research Institute
    Oakland University.

    • Felipe G. Nievinski says:

      Good idea of making a list of platinum (no-fee) OA journals. The European Geosciences Union is another good example: .

  8. […] a relayé la proposition d’une voie de platine (“platinum road”), déjà proposée par d’autres, qui se définit par une absence de paiement pour l’auteur comme pour le lecteur, charge aux […]

  9. […] to the results of research across the field. We have embraced OA in its strongest form, currently (but unofficially) known as Platinum OA. Platinum OA means that authors are not forced (unlike in most versions of […]

  10. […] Il y a aujourd’hui beaucoup d’interrogations sur les modèles de l’open access. Avec le temps, les couleurs et les propositions se multiplient, au point que le débat devient totalement illisible au nouveau venu : gold, green, diamond, platinium… […]

  11. David Wood says:

    Examples of diamond/platinum journals in mathematics and computer science:
    Electronic J. Combinatorics
    J. Computational Geometry
    Australasian J. Combinatorics
    New York J. Mathematics
    Documenta Mathematica
    Discrete Maths. & Theoretical Comput. Sci.
    J. Graph Algorithms & Applications
    Contributions to Discrete Mathematics
    Theory of Computing
    Ars Mathematica Contemporanea
    Online Journal of Analytic Combinatorics

  12. miguelnavasf says:

    Is Platinum OA different from Diamond OA? or the same thing?

  13. […] publish, or those that are authored by university affiliates, which some have characterized as “platinum” open access since no processing fees are charged to the […]

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