Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics at UC Berkeley, February 29, 2008. Converting an entire discipline — high energy physics — to open access. Live Blogging.
Rick Luce, Emory Univ.:
Open access has been seen as a solution to the pricing crisis. But over the course of a decade, it has not made much real progress.
Physics and libraries lead information delivery.
Salvatore Mele, CERN
HEP: what is the world made of? Experimental HEP builds the largest scientific instruments ever, to reach energy densities close to the big bang. (20 percent of literature). Theoretical HEP predicts and interprets the observed phenomenon (half the community but 80 percent of the literature).
Large Hadron Collider, at CERN, about to go online. 27 km circumference, 10,000 workers involved, US$10bn, maintained at -271.25C temperature. 100 million sensors, taking 40 million pictures a second (think about your 8MP camera).
Definition of open access: grant anybody, anywhere and anytime access to the peer-reviewed results of (publicly funded) research … and contain costs.
HEP and Open access: synergy. HEP is decades ahead in thinking open access – for over 40 years, mountains of paper preprint were shipped all over the world. Cost CERN: $1.5M a year. HEP launched arXiv in 1991, the archetypal open archive. Also established the first open access peer reviewed electronic journals.
HEP is a small connected, community (<20,000), publishes a small number of articles (<10,000), in a small number of journals (<10). Reader and author communities overlap. Open access is second nature: posting on arXiv before even submitting to a journal is common practice. No mandate, no debate, no advocacy — author-driven. Author-formatted post-peer-review routinely uploaded. Open access has strong support from LHC communities.
In August 2007, ICFA (Int’l Committee for Future Accelerators) “encourages all concerned parties from all world regions to actively get involved in the scoap3 initiative to assure its success.” In January 2008, HEP Advisory Panel of the U.S. DoE “strongly supports this initiative contingent to its sustainability.”
Journals are on the way to losing — or have lost — a century-old role as vehicles of scholarly communication.
Nonetheless, evaluation of institutes and young researchers is based on high-quality peer-review; they act as keepers of the records. The HEP community needs high quality journals, as our interface with “officialdom.” Implicitly, the HEP community supports this role by purchasing subscriptions, as it continues to read only at arXiv. Subscription prices ultimately make the model unsustainable. As an “all-arXiv” discipline, HEP is at high risk to see its journals canceled by large research libraries (which is already happening).
In the scientific discipline of HEP, 83 percent of articles are published in 6 leading journals. Four publishers publish 87 percent. 57 percent of articles from not for profit publishers. And yet: full text downloads per user range from 0.6 to 0.1 per year in the core HEP-focussed journals. Physicists do not read HEP journals; they read arXiv.
Eventually all of scholarship will be in this position, reading from open access and community portals.
SCOAP3: A practical approach to publish OA about 50000 articles, produced by a community of 20,000 scientists. SCOAP3 is a consortium that sponsors HEP publications and makes them OA by re-directing subscription money.
Today: funding bodies, through libraries, buy journal subscriptions to support peer-review service and to allow their patrons to read articles. Tomorrow: Funding bodies and libraries contribute to the SCOAP3 consortium that pays centrally for peer-review services. Articles are free to read for everyone.
Six journals cover over 80 percent of central HEP literature. Five core journals carry a majority of HEP content — aim to convert them entirely to open access: Phys Rev D, J of HEP, Phys Ltrs B and Nuclear Phys B, Euro Phys J C. Those journals that are only a percentage of HEP, are converted on the basis of that percentage to OA, reducing the subscription price accordingly. SWAG of the HEP open access price tag: $15M / year.
How to put everything together: This must be easy, compared to LHC Atlas detector (only one of the detectors at LHC!): 40 funding agencies, $600M excluding staff, with over 1000 contracts. LHC is the largest collaboration that science has ever seen; in contrast, SCOAP3 is peanuts.
SCOAP3 exact yearly cost to be known after a tender is sent to publishers. SCOAP3 financing to be distributed according to a “fair share” model based on the distribution of HEP articles per country, accounting for co-authorship. Make a 10 percent allowance for developing countries that might not be able to contribute to the scheme at the beginning. The model is only viable if every country is on board.
So far, over half of the total necessary has already been pledged or committed as of the end of February 2008 (and moving quickly). Germany, Italy, France, CERN, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Slovak Rep., Hungary, Romania, Greece, and 15 U.S. institutions.
The U.S. is the largest contributor to HEP authorship. 24.3 percent of HEP articles are affiliated with US institutes. This translates to a total potential SCOAP3 contribution of about $4 Million. Can be supported through re-direction of subscriptions of DoE laboratory libraries; from individual libraries; and from library consortia. U.S. pledges already received from University of California, Caltech, most DoE labs, Johns Hopkins, SLAC.
Once a sizeable fraction of the budget is pledged, SCOAP3 can issue a tender to publishers. Publishers then answer the tender with agreement or provision of proposed contractual agreement. (Journal license packages would be unbundled, and long-term license payments would be reimbursed to libraries.) SCOAP3 next establishes the consortium, decides on governance, adjudicates contracts and commits funds. Contracts with publishers are then signed and funds are transferred to SCOAP3.