Posted: December 17, 2013 -- steve_taylor

Starting Jan. 1, Washington State University Libraries will join an international publishing initiative of more than 1,000 libraries, library consortia and research organizations to provide open access to articles published in high-energy physics research.

The Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics (SCOAP3) is the largest open access initiative ever created, according to CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, which is a consortium sponsor.

High-energy physics, or particle physics, is the study of subatomic particles and their interactions. The discipline is central to understanding the nature of matter and the universe and has applications in other areas of science and medicine. Anyone who has had an MRI can thank high-energy physics in part.

“SCOAP3 has been developed through negotiations between many of the publishers of high-energy physics research—including the Institute of Physics, Springer and Elsevier—as well as libraries and funding agencies to change an entire field of research from a subscription-based model to an open access model,” said Kay Vyhnanek, WSU Libraries’ scholarly communications librarian.

“This is a unique initiative that will make high-energy physics published articles available through open access to any researcher around the globe who has access to a computer. It will help speed the development of new research in the field,” she said.

Joel Cummings, head of collection development at WSU’s Owen Science and Engineering Library, said many academic libraries face journal subscription price increases of about 6 percent a year.

“WSU Libraries doesn’t have a collections budget that increases 6 percent a year,” he said. “It costs no more to participate in the SCOAP3 program than it had cost for WSU Libraries to subscribe to the journal titles involved in the project. What’s unusual here is that this program is trying to move the vast majority of high-energy physics journals to open access.”

“The model is elegantly simple,” said Heather Joseph, executive director of the Association of Research Libraries’ Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition. “Libraries and research funding agencies agreed to pool funds currently allocated to support subscriptions to the high-energy physics journals of 11 participating publishers and to reallocate those funds to directly support the peer review process instead of ongoing subscription costs.

“In exchange, participating libraries receive reduced subscription fees, and the articles in the SCOAP3 journals are now available under open access terms—free to read with authors retaining copyright and reuse ensured through the use of open licenses,” she said.

For more information about the SCOAP3 initiative, visit http://scoap3.org/.