APS News

SCOAP3 and APS: What You Need to Know

The APS Board of Directors voted on April 23 to enter into an agreement with the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) to participate in the Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics (SCOAP3). Here’s what it means for you as a member, author, and researcher.

1. What is SCOAP3?

SCOAP3 is a global consortium of more than 3,000 libraries, research institutions in 44 countries, and 3 intergovernmental organizations, convened and managed by CERN, based in Geneva, Switzerland. The consortium is designed to realize large-scale dedicated open access publishing of high-energy physics (HEP) research. Launched in 2014, the first phase ran for three years until the end of 2016. In 2016, the SCOAP3 Governing Council voted to continue the consortium from 2017 to 2019.

2. Who is involved?

SCOAP3 involves researchers (who create and use the literature), publishers (such as APS), librarians (who maintain collections and facilitate access), and national funding organizations, with CERN as the hub.

3. What is the role of APS?

APS will be joining SCOAP3 from January 2018 and will publish HEP content (as defined in the arXiv.org taxonomy) in three of its journals—Physical Revew C, Physical Review D, and Physical Review Letters—in open access format under a Creative Commons CC-BY license. APS will join the scheme for two years (2018-2019). Prior to this, APS had a bilateral agreement with CERN to make LHC publications open access.

4. How does open access publishing differ from subscriptions?

In the subscription system, research institutions pay publishers either directly or through a consortium of libraries for access to content, which is behind a paywall. Some publishers, including APS, have long offered “hybrid open access” in which authors can pay an “article processing charge” (APC) to have a paper available with no paywall. In the SCOAP3 system, the research institutions pay CERN, which pools the funds and pays APCs to publishers. HEP papers are then open access at no direct charge to authors.

5. How is SCOAP3 funded?

SCOAP3 collects money from participating libraries and institutions that would have otherwise been used for subscriptions for HEP content in journals. These funds are redirected to pay partner publishers for making their HEP content open access. Partner publishers then reduce their subscription prices in proportion to the fees they receive from SCOAP3. As not all libraries participate yet in SCOAP3, the subscription funds are topped-up by CERN and other SCOAP3 partners.

6. How does this affect me as a member of APS? As an author? As a reader?

As a member, you’ll be part of a major step forward in APS’ continuing support of open access publishing in keeping with the Society’s position on OA. As an author, your HEP results will be published open access at no charge to you, and you retain copyright. As a reader, you will be able to benefit from wider free access to HEP papers.

7. Will APS charge subscription fees for its HEP articles while at the same time receiving payment from SCOAP3?

No. APS is committed not to “double dip” for papers made open access and will be reducing its subscription prices to customers commensurate with the level of funding it will receive from SCOAP3.


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Editor: David Voss
Staff Science Writer: Rachel Gaal
Contributing Correspondent: Alaina G. Levine
Publication Designer and Production: Nancy Bennett-Karasik