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January 2021 (Volume 30, Number 1)
By David Voss
APS has joined 15 other international physics organizations in a call for universal access to knowledge and a commitment to sustainable open access. The statement, titled "Achieving Open Access in Physics," reaffirms the innovative ways that the physics community has long supported open access (OA) through its preprint server (arXiv.org) and fully OA journals.
The physics societies caution, however, that some government mandates such as requirements proposed by cOAlition S—a group of EU funding bodies—would harm the freedom of researchers to choose the most appropriate venues for publication and would undermine viability of physics publishing that depends on high-quality peer review.
APS has long been at the forefront of open access, having launched its first OA journal, Physical Review Accelerators and Beams (PRAB) as long ago as 1998. Its current portfolio includes five fully OA journals: Physical Review X, Physical Review Research, PRX Quantum, Physical Review Accelerators and Beams, and Physical Review Physics Education Research. In addition, in early 2011 APS transformed some of the largest, most-cited, and most-trusted peer-reviewed, primary research titles in physics into hybrid journals by offering authors an option to publish individual articles open access. The joint statement notes that more than 85% of physics papers are published in hybrid journals, but that cOAlition S would forbid researchers who obtain funding from their member organizations from publishing in hybrid journals, including those in the Physical Review family.
The statement also points out that a shift from the reader-pays subscription model to a researcher-pays OA system will require a substantial realignment of funding structures. “Broader global financial support for OA will need to be in place before most hybrid physics journals can viably transition,” the statement says. “Adjustments to the global flow of funding will take time.”
The signatory group comprises 16 societies: The Acoustical Society of America, The American Association of Physicists in Medicine, The American Association of Physics Teachers, The American Astronomical Society, The American Crystallographic Association, The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, The American Institute of Physics, The American Physical Society, AVS Science & Technology of Materials Interfaces and Processes, The Chinese Physical Society, The European Physical Society, The Institute of Physics, The Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine, The Laser Institute of America, The Optical Society, and The Society of Rheology.
In emphasizing the joint commitment, the statement concludes that “Physicists will continue to innovate in OA and open science, and physics societies endorse any and all OA models that can provide financially sustainable support for author choice and the quality of peer review and publication upon which excellent physics research relies.”
The text of the statement is available on this Open Access PDF.
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Editor: David Voss
Staff Science Writer: Leah Poffenberger
Contributing Correspondents: Sophia Chen, Alaina G. Levine