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News from the open access movement

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

More details on CERN's plan to convert TA journals to OA

CERN has released its Proposal to establish a Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics, March 9, 2007.  (Thanks to Jens Vigen.)  Excerpt:

High Energy Physics (HEP) and related fields have pioneered the OA principles since a long time through the so-called “repositories”...

Notwithstanding the success of repositories, there is a consensus in the scientific community that refereed journals will continue to fulfil important functions also in future....

The proposed initiative aims at building a new foundation for journal publishing through a large-scale transition of HEP journals to OA. It is based on a new business model operated
in partnership with publishers, pursuing a threefold goal:

  • provide open and unrestricted access to all HEP research literature in its final, peer-reviewed
    form, through electronic journals freely available on the Internet;
  • contain the overall cost of journal publishing e.g. by increasing competition, while assuring sustainability;
  • assert the complementary roles of repositories and journals: fast dissemination through advance versions of papers in repositories, quality control through the peer review organised by journals....

[W]e estimate that the annual budget for a transition of HEP
publishing to OA would amount to a maximum of 10 Million Euros per year. In comparison, the annual list price of a single HEP core journal today can be as high as 10’000 Euros; for 500 institutes worldwide actively involved in HEP, this represents an annual expenditure of 5 Million Euros [for just one journal].

In the present proposal, the publishers’ subscription income from multiple institutions is replaced by an “author-side” funding. Journals are paid through contracts between publishers and a single financial partner, the “Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics” (SCOAP3). SCOAP3 is envisioned as a global network of funding agencies, research laboratories, and libraries that will contribute the necessary funding; each SCOAP3 partner will recover its contribution from the cancellation of journal subscriptions. This model avoids the obvious disadvantage of authors being directly charged for the OA publication of their articles, which is perceived as an even higher barrier than subscription charges, in particular for theoretical physicists from small institutions who account for the vast majority of HEP papers....

In practice, the OA transition will be facilitated by the fact that a small number of established publishers and journals account for the vast majority of HEP papers....

The proposed model will initiate a significant shift of paradigm for the dissemination of results from scientific research, with new benefits and clearly defined roles for all stakeholders in the publication process:

  • Readers will benefit from unrestricted access to all relevant literature in their field of research.
  • Authors will benefit from a wider dissemination of their results, thus from better opportunities for recognition and career evolution. Their transition to OA will be transparent: they can continue to publish in the same journals as before. However, the increased visibility of their results will be a strong incentive to give preference to OA journals.
  • Publishers will benefit from a more sustainable business model than the traditional subscription scheme, becoming increasingly fragile in the Internet era....
  • Funding agencies will profit from increased visibility of their research results in high-quality OA journals. They will benefit from improved stability of publication costs and possible long-term savings generated by a competitive publication market. 
  • Libraries will benefit from solving the problem of spiraling subscription costs of HEP journals....

CERN presented the proposal at a meeting today in Geneva.