Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

More on SCOAP3

Ivy Anderson, The Audacity of SCOAP3, ARL Bimonthly Report No. 257, April 2008.  A preprint.  Excerpt:

...Based at CERN, SCOAP3 is an open access (OA) publishing initiative of a new and different sort—one that is largely non-disruptive to both scholars and publishers, and in whose discussions at least two society publishers (APS and IEEE) are actively participating....

There are several important elements that distinguish SCOAP3 from other OA initiatives:

  • SCOAP3 is a funding consortium that seeks to mediate between author and publisher, while still conceiving of payment as a supply-side activity. By pooling funds from multiple sources and asking publishers to submit to an open tender process, it is hoped that publishing fees can be reduced. The notion of a consortium of funders has significant new appeal for three reasons: first, it avoids shifting the burden of funding to individual authors; second, it provides a context in which funds from multiple sources—libraries as well as other funding agencies—can be aggregated and deployed to support the peer review and publishing process; and third, by aggregating funds on behalf of authors, the consortium can exert the leverage of the marketplace to negotiate fees and control costs at an earlier point in the publishing cycle. This is fundamentally different from models that ask authors to cough up funds for their own articles or invite libraries to finance the publishing activity of their institutions’ authors in a decentralized, disintermediated, and ultimately unsustainable manner.
  • SCOAP3 is non-disruptive to authors—and to a substantial degree, to publishers and societies. As noted above, SCOAP3 insulates authors from publication charges, which can act as a powerful disincentive in the “author-pays” OA model. In addition, it maintains the vetting and credentialing functions of the existing journals while transforming them to open access. This is why the societies that publish HEP journals have actively engaged in the discussions about SCOAP3—it proposes to support, not replace them. The most critical functions of the current scholarly system, functions which work well for scholars, are preserved under SCOAP3, while still undergoing significant transformation.
  • SCOAP3 has the potential to fundamentally alter the role of libraries in the publishing process. SCOAP3 funding agencies, including libraries, will be responsible for the governance structure that is formed to contract with publishers for peer review and publishing services, placing libraries in a role that is well aligned with the “university as publisher” paradigm gaining currency in other areas of university-based scholarship. This alignment will place new demands on libraries and assign to them new roles in administering the outputs of scholarship and research....

Everyone interested in the grand experiment of open access publishing, whether pro or con, should sit up and take notice of this audacious new OA accelerator that is SCOAP3....

From the same issue, also see Julia Blixrud, Taking Action on SCOAP3.  Excerpt:

To move the SCOAP3 project forward, libraries and consortia can take the following steps:

  1. review the Report of the SCOAP3 Working Party...;
  2. calculate the amount of their pledge to SCOAP3 by estimating their current expenditures on seven HEP core journals, as outlined [here];
  3. sign the expression of interest to join SCOAP3...; and
  4. promote the project within the physics community on campus....

Also see the today's press release from the ARL on this issue.