On 4th January 2008, the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel (HEPAP) advises the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. National Science Foundation on the conduct of experimental and theoretical high energy physics (HEP) research and accelerator R&D. On November 30th, HEPAP listened to two presentations on Open Access. An Open Access primer by Gene Sprouse, editor in chief of the American Physical Society, and a description of the SCOAP3 model by Salvatore Mele on behalf of the emerging SCOAP3 consortium.
In its summary letter, HEPAP expressed its strong support for SCOAP3, contingent upon its sustainability and reversibility.
Sustainability is a SCOAP3 pillar, as the initiative is born from a request of the HEP community for Open Access while maintaining the highest standard of peer-review and the high-quality journals this community needs. The SCOAP3 model is based on the work of a task force that reached consensus between HEP authors, publishers from the two sides of the Atlantic, and funding agencies, on a sustainable model for Open Access in HEP.
Today, much of the HEP literature is freely available online in pre- print format. As global subscription price increases outpace budgets, libraries worldwide might begin to question the value provided by HEP journals whose content is often available elsewhere. This situation makes HEP an ideal arena in which to explore solutions that address both Open Access and sustainability.
In other Open Access models, new journals compete for authors and library funds with traditional journals, often resulting in an increase of the total expenditure as new titles win authors but existing journals do not decrease their subscriptions with the decreasing volumes of articles. These models often require new sources of funding, or add additional cost centres to library budgets. In contrast, SCOAP3 aims to convert all high-quality journals in the field to Open Access. The SCOAP3 initiative will redirect funds which are today used for subscriptions to HEP journals into an explicit payment for the organization of the peer-review service and the other value that journals add to pre-prints. The SCOAP3 model will achieve Open Access out of funds that are already in use, today, to provide content to library users, rather than requiring new sources of funding. It is thus sustainable by construction.
Libraries and library consortia in Europe and the U.S. are joining the consortium and manifesting their support, as are the funding agencies that support them. As in any publishing model, past, present or future, these bodies are the ultimate guarantee of sustainability. As they learn more about the needs of this scientific community and about the SCOAP3 model, it is now up to librarians worldwide to join SCOAP3 and make this Open Access experiment successful.