Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

OA publishing in physics

Siān Harris, Is physics the new biomedicine? Research Information, June/July 2007.  Excerpt:

...[BioMed Central] has begun to move beyond the boundaries of biomedical sciences. Chemistry Central was launched last year and now gives access to seven open-access titles. This has been followed by PhysMath Central.

This isn't the first time that the publishing community has applied the open-access model to physics or maths. The OSA has published Optics Express under this model for 10 years and the open-access New Journal of Physics has been jointly published by the Institute of Physics Publishing and Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft, the German physical society, since 1998. Meanwhile physics, maths and engineering take centre stage in the portfolio of the already-profitable Egyptian open-access publisher Hindawi Publishing. And, like biomedical researchers, physicists have had their own open-access archive, arXiv, for many years.

Despite these significant moves, however, there is still caution about the role of open access in physics, according to Chris Leonard, publisher of the new PhysMaths Central website. He described many editors of physics journals as 'quite luke warm' on the topic of open access.

So why has BioMed Central been attracted to physics and maths now? According to Leonard, several factors combined to make this a good time. Having been going for seven years and being near to profitability, the open-access publisher wanted to broaden its scope. 'We found out that there was quite an appetite for similar services in other disciplines,' he explained. 'It was partly a push from our side and partly a pull from the scientists' side. They've seen their colleagues benefiting from open-access exposure to their research.'

This can particularly be seen in another significant factor that has been emerging in tandem with the publisher's own ambitions. CERN, the huge international particle-physics facility in Switzerland,...[has] a new plan: to make all particle-physics research results open access....

For this reason, particle physics seemed like a good starting point for the new PhysMath Central....But this is not the end of the story, according to Leonard. 'We will cover the whole scope of physics and maths,' he promised. He anticipates that PhysMath Central will launch about seven titles this year....

PhysMath Central is capitalising on researchers experience with [arXiv] by enabling them to submit papers to the PhysMath Central journals directly from arXiv or to submit papers to both arXiv and the new journals at the same time. 'We hope that this will help cement arXiv as the repository for physics. We are also beginning to speak about ways to avoid duplication of effort. This might include automatic deposit in arXiv of the final, peer-reviewed versions of papers,' he said. Another area of interest for PhysMath Central is the raw data: 'We want to host the raw data accompanying the articles wherever we can.'