Open Access News

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

New SCOAP3 FAQ addressed to US libraries

SPARC and ACRL have produced a new FAQ for CERN's SCOAP3 project.  Excerpt:

The SCOAP3 proposal is...currently supported by ~100 U.S. libraries, either directly or through consortia, and by the Canadian Research Knowledge Network, on behalf of all Canadian libraries, as well as libraries, consortia and funding agencies in 18 other countries in Europe, the Middle East and Australasia.

The success of the SCOAP3 proposal now depends on the full support of U.S. libraries. The following FAQs aim to support the decision-making process for additional U.S. libraries to sign an Expression of Interest in support of SCOAP3....

1.    What is SCOAP3?

SCOAP3, the Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access in Particle Physics Publishing, proposes an innovative economic model to achieve Open Access to peer-reviewed literature in high-energy physics (HEP). The model seeks to, (using current funding levels as a starting point), redirect subscription expenditures to ensure open access and work to contain costs - and in doing so, achieve more value than is possible within a subscription-based system.

The SCOAP3 model is the product of extensive consultation with all stakeholders in scholarly communication — authors, funding agencies, libraries and publishers....

2.    What is SCOAP3’s business model?

SCOAP3 proposes to create an international consortium of libraries and funding agencies that will centrally contract with publishers for the services of administering peer-review, editing, and Open-Access article dissemination. An open tender or “bidding” process will invite publishers of HEP journals, not-for-profit and commercial alike, to compete to provide these services. This will replace the current disaggregated process, in which libraries negotiate the cost of access separately – putting libraries back at the center of scholarly communication.

The tendering process is an established practice in the HEP community, as it is in other large-scale publicly funded industrial procurements. It is guided by the principles of competition and will work to link price with quality and volume. These variables are not explicitly (or transparently) linked in today’s scholarly communication market.

The SCOAP3 initiative relies on Expressions of Interest from the worldwide library community to advance to the next step. Once a critical mass of interest from the international community is established, a governing board will be formed to represent the interests of all participants. CERN will provide the legal and purchasing infrastructure required to administer the tendering process.  The governing board will invite and assess bids from the publishers and adjudicate contracts, ensuring that the requirements and interests of member libraries are met. Partner libraries and consortia will only formalize their commitment to the consortium through a Memorandum of Understanding once bids have been reviewed and accepted by the governing board....

6.    What are the costs for an individual library to participate?

The cost of supporting SCOAP3 will not exceed the cost of subscription access to the identified suite of HEP journals....

9.    Is the SCOAP3 model expected to cost libraries less than they pay now for subscriptions? If yes, how?

While libraries are asked to commit to SCOAP3 with the level of funding they currently direct to HEP publishing, and cost reductions will not be evident in the first year, the model is expected to lower costs over time for the following reasons:

  • The consortium creates the most possible leverage for libraries, negotiating with publishers as a single party.
  • The competitive tender process will link price to quality and volume, challenging publishers to deliver more value for less cost. The process will also make fees transparent, open to analysis, and more thoroughly understood.
  • The power of some publishers to inflate fees will be mitigated by the transparency of the bidding process; the cost of individual services will be specified and proposals will be openly visible....

12.    How have publishers reacted to the SCOAP3 proposal?

All publishers of high-quality HEP journals have been involved in consultative conversations with SCOAP3 since the beginning of the project. All have demonstrated a pro-active and open attitude toward the HEP community’s desire for Open Access to research, including allowing or promoting self-archiving (the APS even hosts a mirror of the popular arXiv repository) and offering Open Access to subsets of the literature at no cost to authors....

The organizers are encouraged and expect the publisher response to the call for tender to be positive....

PS:  SCOAP3 produced an FAQ for US libraries back in 2007.  The new FAQ is an update of the old one, and CERN's links now point to the new edition.