On the road to true Open Publishing, where taxpayer money isn't used to pay to publish or to read already taxpayer-funded studies at all, the Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing (SCOAP) in Particle Physics has set a new waypoint, and Oxford University Press has signed up Progress of Theoretical and Experimental Physics (PTEP) for this new transparent model of open access, where members can see how the taxpayer money is being spent.
Oxford University Press is not jumping into freeing science just yet; they have 5,500 employees in 50 countries worldwide and 6,000 new publications a year. They have 10 other open access journals in their stable, and PTEP was already a legacy open access journal, so it will not be hurting their revenue - but it is a start down the path to a better way.
The SCOAP model is interesting. High Energy Physics has long embraced Science 2.0 publishing, with the arXiv preprint service leading the way with no costs to authors or readers. Open access came later and most OA journals still charge $1000-2000 per paper where they papers are peer-reviewed or not, and the largest companies do tens of millions of dollars in revenue, money which all still comes from taxpayers, since grants have to pay for it either way. The big advantage to OA is that at least anyone can read the work.
SCOAP does not charge authors to publish. Instead, HEP funding agencies and libraries cancel their journal subscriptions and then each country supports the peer-review service directly according to its share of HEP publishing. Like in legacy OA, publishers make the electronic versions of their journals free to read.
SCOAP says the total cost of its service will max out at 10 million Euros per year, far less than the global expenditure in subscriptions or open access payments to HEP journals.
High energy physics is a good test case because physicists have long been leaders in open publishing and the large majority of HEP articles are published in six peer-reviewed journals. The open and competitive procedure conducted by CERN for the benefit of SCOAP took into account the quality of the journals (as measured by their Impact Factor), the quality of the services provided (as measured by their re-use licenses and delivery formats), and the unit price for publishing each article.
SCOAP will start operations in 2014 and articles will be available to read freely in perpetuity under a CC-BY license (authors for the original creation must be credited). Progress of Theoretical and Experimental Physics is owned by the Physical Society of Japan. Norisuke Sakai, Editor-in-Chief, said, “It is a great pleasure to have PTEP included in the SCOAP project. PTEP has now started publishing special issue articles and receiving manuscripts for the regular publications in 2013. The journal is the successor to Progress of Theoretical Physics, founded in 1946 by Hideki Yukawa, the first Japanese Nobel Laureate. I am very excited to start the journal’s new chapter as a fully open access title with the new journal name to cover both experimental and theoretical physics, and look forward to developing our relationship with SCOAP.”
Oxford University Press Joins SCOAP Transparent Open Access Model