Particle physics on path to open access

Six years of global negotiation have paid off for the consortium that has a vision: to make the scholarly literature of high energy physics openly available to anyone in the world.

The Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics (SCOAP3) has negotiated 3-year contracts with 12 journals “that would make 90% of high-energy-physics papers published from 2014 onwards free to read,” according to a report in Nature.

The SCOAP3 deal involves pledges of support from more than 1,000 libraries and other funders around the world, including the MIT libraries. Libraries’ payments will be used to pay the publishers an agreed-upon fee per paper, averaging $1550. In return, all 12 journals, including about 7,000 articles from journals such as the American Physical Society’s Physical Review C and D, Elsevier’s Physics Letters B and Nuclear Physics B, and Springer’s European Physical Journal C and Journal of High Energy Physics, will make their content openly accessible to all readers. Six of the journals will switch their business models from subscription to open access. For others, only the high-energy physics articles will be open access.

Salvatore Mele, the leader of the SCOAP3 project at CERN, the high-energy physics laboratory in Geneva, indicated to Nature that the goal of the project is “to open access without researchers noticing any effect on their grant funding or on the way they publish their papers.” Pledging libraries are expected to be able to repurpose funds that were being used for subscriptions to these journals to pay the SCOAP3 fees; publishers will reduce their subscription prices to reflect fees they will obtain through SCOAP3.

The details of those arrangements are expected to be worked out in late 2012 and into 2013. Only then will contracts actually be signed. Nevertheless, this week’s announcement of a list of journals with specific article processing charges takes the deal a significant step closer to the conclusion of what Peter Suber, philospher and a leader of the open access movement, has called “the most systematic attempt to convert all the journals in a given field to open access.”

More information:
Nature article
SCOAP3 website