18 September 2006

CERN Re-invents Publishing - Again

The Web was invented by Tim Berners-Lee while he was working at the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva. Now the boys and girls at CERN are at it again, with a radical proposal that will re-invent scientific publishing in their field.

Essentially, they suggest that enough of the big particle physics establishments get together to sponsor the publication of most of the main titles in their field for the next few years as part of a transition to an open access approach, funded in part by savings on subscriptions. At a stroke this solves the biggest problem with OA - getting there.

Major laboratories such as CERN will have to take a lead initially in steering the community through the OA transition – both politically and financially – but ultimately the particle physics funding agencies will have to provide the lion’s share of the financial support. This accounts in particular for the fact that about 80% of the original research articles in particle physics are theory papers.

Tentatively, the task force envisages a transition period of five years to establish a ‘fair share’ scenario between funding agencies and other partners, to allow time for funding agencies to redirect budgets from journal subscriptions to OA sponsoring, and to allow time for more publishers to convert journals to OA. At the end of this period, the vast majority of particle physics literature should be available under an OA scheme.

The sums involved are big for publishing, but puny compared to the cost of your average accelerator, so it's a good mix. And they're thinking strategically too:

With about 10,000 practising scientists worldwide, particle physicists represent a medium-sized community that is small enough for publishers and funding agencies not to take incalculable risks, yet big enough to provide a representative test bed and to set a visible precedent for other fields of science and humanities.

In other words, if this works, the hope is everything else will come tumbling down too. This is one experiment I'll follow with interest. (Via Open Access News.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When are they going to solve the limitless energy problem.Chew more pencils plase.p