A joint Fermilab/SLAC publication

SLAC, Lawrence Berkeley Lab, and J-Lab join SCOAP3

06/27/08

As announced on the SCOAP3 website, three more Department of Energy laboratories have joined the open-access consortium: Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Jefferson Lab. They join four other DOE labs--Argonne, Pacific Northwest National Lab, Los Alamos, and Fermilab--that have pledged to redirect their high-energy physics journal subscription funds to SCOAP3, and thus help make peer-reviewed literature in the field freely available to all.

As reported in an Oct/Nov 07 symmetry article on the initiative:

If it works, no one will have to pay to read most particle physics results. The journals that publish most of the research in the field will be available free online to anyone, anywhere and any time. Money to run the journals—including the cost of having experts review each article before it sees print—would instead come from funding agencies, laboratories and libraries through a consortium called SCOAP3, the Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics. This would give journals a stable source of funding while reducing the total cost to libraries and readers.

The proposal is the latest twist in open-access publishing, a worldwide movement whose goal is to pull down barriers to the free flow of information while preserving a system that has kept watch over the integrity of science for nearly 350 years.

Physics, with its long history of openly sharing research results, seems an ideal testing ground for such an idea. Fifty years ago physicists began circulating mimeographed preprints, or unpublished papers, as a way of getting results out more quickly. The mimeograph gave way to the copying machine and the computer; today’s physicists post theories and experimental results on arXiv.org, an Internet clearinghouse set up in 1991 to make it easier for them to swap information. .. As early as 1961, librarians at Stanford Linear Accelerator Center in California started keeping track of circulating preprints, an effort that evolved into SPIRES.

A growing number of other institutions in the United States, as well as organizations in 16 other countries, support this new model of paying publishers directly for the services that the scientific community needs, rather than paying indirectly for these services via subscriptions.

The SLAC Research Library has been a supporter of SCOAP3 in the United States from the beginning, helping to organize and educate libraries in various institutions around the country about the SCOAP3 model and why it fits the HEP community so well. However, it took some work to ensure that the library's subscription costs were accurately tallied, and furthermore, during this time the entire SLAC library moved to a temporary location while our building is being renovated.

After the dust had settled in our new digs, we were able to take some time to understand the details of our pledge, and ensure that SLAC management understood SCOAP3 and why it would benefit SLAC and the HEP community as a whole. Making it clear that many scientists support SCOAP3, including the major Large Hadron Collider collaborations and HEPAP, the DOE's High Energy Physics Advisory Panel, was incredibly useful since it helped everyone see how valuable those in the community feel open access to be. I am proud that SLAC was able to make this pledge of support now, and I am excited about the future of SCOAP3.

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