The APS and the American Institute of Physics (AIP) announced in October that they would launch the first two of a series of "virtual" journals in the physical sciences this month. Jointly developed by the two organizations, the Virtual Journal of Biological Physics Research and the Virtual Journal of Nanoscale Science and Technology will be online journals that will collect relevant papers from a broad range of physical science journals, including those published by the APS and AIP, as well as selected journals from participating publishers in AIP's Online Journal Publishing Service.
According to APS Editor-in-Chief Martin Blume, the impetus for the venture arose from discussions with AIP about the difficulty both organizations have had in the past launching what are known as "niche journals"-i.e., journals that focus on rapidly emerging specialized topics, such as high-temperature superconductivity or ferroelectrics. Taking advantage of the ease of electronic access, the virtual journals are intended to highlight advances in important fields that might otherwise be buried in broadly based science journals. Authors may also be encouraged to submit such papers in these areas to those journals, such as the Physical Review or Physical Review Letters, if they know they will receive special attention. "Virtual journals will provide users with quick, convenient access to information in cutting edge fields," says Blume. "Gathering into one spot all the papers on a given topic will help specialists keep abreast of the latest developments, not only with title 'alerts,' but with abstracts and full-text articles."
Initially, the virtual journals will consist primarily of a browsable, monthly table of contents listing articles in biological physics appearing in participating journals, along with a link to the various abstracts and, if the user has a subscription to the source journals in question, to the articles themselves. Non-subscribers will have the option of purchasing articles from the source journals for immediate online delivery. In the longer term, APS and AIP are mulling the possibility of selling separate subscriptions to the virtual journals, targeting such specialized audiences as pharmaceutical companies, who may wish to keep abreast of developments in, for example, biological physics, but don't wish to invest in expensive multiple journal subscriptions that contain many papers in fields not of interest to them.
"Virtual journals will provide affordable access to individuals or small institutions with specialized interests," notes Marc Brodsky, AIP's executive director and CEO. "Those who could not afford to subscribe to the complete line of journals contributing to a given virtual journal will now be able to get the content that they need rapidly, conveniently, and for less money than is possible by traditional hardcopy document delivery."
Articles appearing in the two new virtual journals will be selected by editors who are recognized experts in those fields. Robert Austin of Princeton University will serve as editor of the Virtual Journal of Biological Physics Research, while David Awschalom of the University of California, Santa Barbara has been named editor of the Virtual Journal of Nanoscale Science and Technology. Other virtual journals will be launched as warranted, focusing on new and developing fields that cut across a range of traditional publications.
The Virtual Journals in Science and Technology series that has been jointly owned, developed, and published by the American Institute of Physics (AIP) and the American Physical Society (APS) will be discontinued as of July 1, 2012. No new content will be added to the VJ series after that date. The site will remain open and functional until early November 2012, and then be permanently removed from the AIP Scitation platform.
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