Pictured: Much rejoicing

About 3 months ago, I had a paper published – there was much rejoicing.

Since then I have been planning on doing a big ‘hey, look at my paper’ blog post. I even went so far as to write some other posts that would lay the ground work and background so it would be easier to explain.

You may notice that no blog post has yet appeared on my blog. Surprisingly this isn’t laziness on my part or even my rather hectic blog schedule, it’s because I can’t actually share it.

The paper, titled “Modifying Monolayer Behaviour by Incorporating Subphase Additives and Improving Langmuir Blodgett Thin Film Deposition on Optical Fibres” is published in Materials, Chemistry and Physics. Very, very briefly – it’s a slightly technical paper, covering a modification to specific coating techniques for putting monolayers of materials onto practically any surface. It’s pretty neat, trust me.

For those not in the know, scientific publishing is split into 3 different colours – White, Green and Gold (there’s also yellow but it’s basically green with a few more strings so I’ll skip it) – the colour corresponding to the level of open-access of the journal or paper. This colour scheme is loosely chosen by the criteria below – and possibly a dark and mysterious council of elders.

White journals are the worst and have no real open-access option, all their papers are behind a pay wall for ever and ever and ever. Essentially, publishing in here is a good way of saying “don’t read my paper” to anyone without some expensive journal access. It’s a great place to publish all those papers you never want anyone to read or know about.

Green is a little better and allows some form of open-access. This varies across the journals but commonly, the journals allow access to something called the pre-prints – via self-archiving. These won’t be the sexy final formatted PDFs but the raw text and images, and the journal won’t link to or promote the open-access version. For some journals even this concession is a little much and they will also put ’embargoes’ on the title and prevent release of these pre-prints for fixed time periods (anything from 3 to ∞ months).

Gold is as you may have guessed, the best. Basically, from the moment you publish, the paper is made open-access and freely available to anyone who wants to download it. Some journals allow this in exchange for piles of money, others have this as their default publishing model (f1000, PLOS ONE, PeerJ, etc). Publishing in one of these journals is pretty much my ideal option but for a variety of reasons it’s not always possible.

You can check the colour of any journal using the excellent search database RoMEO.


My paper is in a green journal. While my input into where it was published was limited, I agreed to publishing in a green journal because, I reasoned I could share the preprint with people and not shell out loads of cash to the journal for ‘gold’ status. I figured it web release as preprint on to Cranfield Universities’ paper archive in a couple of months and I could share it on here for the enjoyment of all.

However, a few weeks ago I checked with the library (via twitter of course, because email is soo last year…) to see why it had not gone on the system yet and a very helpful person informed me that there was a slight hiccup.

Yeah, I’d got so excited about the fact that Materials, Chemistry and Physics allowed pre-prints, that I forgot they also could put embargoes on it and for reasons best known to the publisher, they have slapped a 2 year 1 year embargo on my paper!!!!

UPDATE:  Initially I was told my paper had a 2 year embargo but apparently because it’s based on research council funding the embargo period is actually only 1 year.

My opinion of this is that it is bad [ED: authors original comment removed to avoid breaching UK decency laws]

So unless you either pay $30 for a copy or $3800 for a subscription to the journal no paper for you. And as I think those fees are a little ridiculous they have put me in a position where I don’t even want to promote my paper because not all my readers can even see what I’m talking about. Well, at least not until 2016 2015 anyway; by which time whatever any interest people in the field might have had, will be vastly reduced.

Of course that is unless someone breaks the embargo by using any one of several anonymous file sharing sites to post a link to the PDF of my paper in the comments below.

But I expect no-one to do that because it would be wrong.

So don’t do that….

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You can haz PDF · 2 July 2014 at 15:10

[…] week you may remember that I wrote about my horror at finding out that my paper had a 2 year embargo on it. I think the tone of the piece neatly conveys how I felt (mostly filled with rage). But since then […]

Self publicising my paper · 10 July 2014 at 13:06

[…] Don’t even ask. […]

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