In line with worldwide initiatives by a majority of society and independent publishers, the publishing consortium of The European Physical Journal (EPJ) has decided to accept the principle of "open access" publishing of accepted papers -- i.e. of articles that have already successfully passed the peer-review stage -- if so desired by the authors. In this open access publishing model that is sustained by upfront payment, the extensive services provided by the EPJ publishers for the print and online publication are the same as for papers published in the subscription model, with the following additional services provided:
a. The online version of an open access article will be perpetually, universally and freely accessible;
b. The author (or the initial copyright holder) is entitled to keep his/her copyright.
Presently, all sections of this journal are read in over 4,200 institutions worldwide. The journal is further freely available in many so-called developing countries through various initiatives in which the publishers of EPJ participate. We also draw attention to the fact that EPJ has, in 2005, adopted the policy to provide every individual researcher with personalized free access in (the unlikely) case he or she should not have institutional access....
In the explicit expectation that these 4,200 institutions, often organised in consortia, will not cancel their subscriptions or licences as a result of this policy, EPJ proposes to authors and their funding institutions, a strongly reduced special "open access" article processing fee of EUR 1000,-- per article to sponsor "open access" of their EPJ article.
Following discussion with the respective Editorial Boards and in order to promote the latest research results rapidly, the "letter" articles in EPJ A and C will, by default, be published with immediate open access without incurring any fee....
The EPJ publishers are prepared to move the EPJ journals to "OA-only" seeking sponsoring models and the cooperation with funding agencies and consortia that guarantee long term financial support of OA publishing at realistic article processing fees and compatible with the efficiency and flexibility of the present system of dissemination of scientific content and metadata - in the usual high quality and to the entire spectrum of hosting, abstracting, indexing and archiving services according to international norms and conventions. In particular, EPJ is seeking sponsoring models and the cooperation with funding agencies and consortia willing to sponsor all types and categories of papers accepted by the editors of the EPJ journals on the basis of their intrinsic scientific quality and relevance.
EPJ is a family of eight journals. As the announcement says, the letters articles in two of the eight will charge no fees, EPJ A (Hadrons and Nuclei) and EPJ C (Particles and Fields).
The EPJ hybrid model is better than most on the key criteria. It lets authors retain copyright, which suggests that it would also let authors deposit copies in independent OA repositories and use CC licenses. It doesn't waive fees in cases of economic hardship, but major parts of two of the eight journals charge no fees at all. It doesn't promise to reduce the subscription prices in proportion to author uptake, but it's considering conversion to full OA, which would mean the end of subscription fees. It's not clear whether it will let authors comply with a funder OA mandate without paying a fee for the OA option.
Springer is one of the publishers of EPJ, but the EPJ fee of EUR 1,000 is much lower than the standard Springer fee of USD 3,000. The reason seems to be the influence of the co-publishers, EDP Sciences and SocietÓ Italiana di Fisica. (Thanks to George Porter for pointing this out.)
Beyond these welcome features, EPJ deserves thanks for using the accurate term "upfront payment" instead of the misleading term "author fee", and for its willingness to shift from fees to institutional subsidies if it can arrange to do so.
Peter Suber at 11/01/2006 12:57:00 PM.
The open access movement:
Putting peer-reviewed scientific and scholarly literature
on the internet. Making it available free of charge and
free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.
Removing the barriers to serious research.