APS News

APS Grants Online Journal Access to Troubled Russian Institutes

Physicists in the politically and economically troubled former Soviet Union have struggled in recent years to maintain subscriptions to the premier scientific journals, including those published by the APS. The situation became critical earlier this year when the Open Society Institute discontinued subsidies to Russian institutions for journal subscriptions. To help alleviate the pressure and ensure continued access to international research results for Russian scientists, at its February meeting the APS Executive Board approved a plan for short-term emergency online access to the Society's journals.

Under the proposed scheme, Russian academic and government institutions may petition the Society directly for free subscriptions to the online versions of Physical Review (all sections), Physical Review Letters, Physical Review Online Archives (PROLA), Reviews of Modern Physics, and Physical Review Special Topics: Accelerators and Beams, APS President James Langer believes this will ensure that such online access is provided only to those institutions where access is both desired and necessary. It also protects existing paid subscriptions from industrial laboratories in the region.

In future years, journal access will be gained through annual application to the APS by each institution, and the Society expects to begin charging for all online journal access beginning in 2001. The size of the charge will depend on the amount of supplementary support provided by other agencies, such as the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR), and by the effect of the subsidized online subscriptions on the existing subscriptions within Russia. The RFBR is a self-governing state-funded organization whose primary goal is to support the most promising research initiatives in all fields of fundamental science without departmental restrictions. It is currently the only such organization providing funds for subscriptions to foreign print and electronic journals in Russia.

Also under discussion is a cost-effective scheme for providing access to the APS journals to researchers in countries with little or no access to the Internet. APS Editor-in-Chief Martin Blume devised a plan while visiting the International Center for Theoretical Physics In Trieste, Italy, in which the Society would provide CDs of the most recent year's issues of APS journals, which ICTP would then distribute to a list of 75 institutions, subject to APS approval. The APS Committee on International Scientific Affairs will discuss the proposed program, to be jointly sponsored by the APS and ICTP, at its upcoming meeting, with plans to present the plan to the APS Executive Board and Council this spring.


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Editor: Alan Chodos
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