APS News

New APS Policies Enhance Access to Journals

In July, the editors of the APS journals Physical Review Letters, Physical Review, and Reviews of Modern Physics announced two major initiatives allowing freer access for the public. One new policy will give all US public libraries free online access to all APS journals. The other ensures that the first experimental results published in the APS journals from the Large Hadron Collider will be made freely available for anyone to access.

The new library policy will let the public freely access all 400,000 journal articles, ranging from current papers to ones first published in 1893. The libraries will not be charged a fee for the service, needing only to accept an online site license and supply a valid IP address for public computers. Users will be able to access the journals only from within the library.

“Public libraries have long played a central role in our country’s intellectual life, and we hope that through this initiative they will become an important avenue for the general public to reach our research journals, which until now have been available only through the subscriptions at research institutions that currently cover the significant costs of peer review and online publication,” said APS treasurer and publisher Joe Serene.

“The Public Library program is entirely consistent with the APS objective to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics,” said APS Editor in Chief Gene Sprouse. “Our goal is to provide access to everyone who wants and needs our journals, and this shift in policy represents the first of several steps the APS is taking towards that goal.”

The other new policy allows free access to the first experimental papers from the LHC. The journal articles will be available to anyone under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license and will apply to any experimental LHC papers coming out of CERN in 2010.

The decision was made in acknowledgment of the fundamental significance of, and broad interest in, the work being done at this international facility. In addition, CERN has been urging an open access policy for papers coming from the collider.

“The successful operation of the LHC is a huge milestone for physics and worthy of a celebration, so APS has made the articles open access to celebrate the great achievement of the LHC,” said Sprouse.

“I’m glad we’re doing this,” said Serene, “so that everyone who is interested can see the early results from the LHC.”

Creative Commons is a non-profit corporation that provides free licensing agreements to content authors, artists and other content providers. The Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license gives anyone the right to freely access, distribute and adapt the papers as long as that the original work including author and publication is properly credited.

The APS has historically been a leader in the publishing field for providing open access to its published articles. Physical Review Special Topics-Accelerators and Beams was first published in 1998 as an online-only open access journal. The journal Physical Review Special Topics-Physics Education Research is likewise an open access online journal. In addition papers that appear in other APS journals can be open access if an author or organization buys the rights. These CERN papers are the first to use a Creative Commons license. In the past, APS has made select papers open access as well, including Nobel Prize-winning papers and ones of historical importance.  

Currently the editors and publishers are working to implement new open access options for all the journals.

APS encourages the redistribution of the materials included in this newspaper provided that attribution to the source is noted and the materials are not truncated or changed.

Editor: Alan Chodos