The Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics (SCOAP3) aims to redirect the subscriptions funds used for the core journals in the field of High-Energy Physics (HEP) to make them Open Access. This initiative is much more than a one-discipline-only solution to the nested issues of Open Access and subscriptions, it aims to prove that libraries can regain a central role in scholarly communication, aggressively promoting and achieving Open Access, in a cost-neutral fashion with the potential to generate medium and long term savings.

SCOAP3 is now collecting Expressions of Interest from partners worldwide to join the consortium, these are financial pledges to back the consortium if it will be able to deliver following a call for tender to publisher for the Open Access price tag of their journals and the ensuing negotiations. Once it will have reached a critical mass, and thus demonstrated its legitimacy and credibility, SCOAP3 will be formally established, and its governance put in place. SCOAP3 will then issue its call for tender to publishers, assess the exact cost of the operation, and then move forward with negotiating and placing contracts with publishers.

The financing of the operation is on a country basis, based on the amount of HEP articles published in each country in this field, with a total capped budget envelope of 10 Million Euros.

In less than one year and a half, SCOAP3 has received pledges for 49.5% of its budget envelope. Most European countries have joined the consortium: Austria, Belgium, CERN, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Slovak Republic, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom (JISC), with the remaining European partners poised to do so in the near future. At the same time, SCOAP3 is today a truly international initiative. The United States, which are the largest SCOAP3 partner with a projected contribution of about 1/4 of the SCOAP3 budget envelope, have already pledged about 1/2 of this contribution to the consortium, through leading US libraries, library consortia and HEP laboratories. Beyond Europe and North America, Turkey, Israel and Australia have also joined the consortium.

Negotiations are in progress for several countries in Asia, North and South America to join the consortium. These partners would represent an aggregated contribution of about 1/4 of the SCOAP3 budget envelope.

Formal discussion with the publishers have not officially started, as the tendering process cannot be launched before a larger fraction of the SCOAP3 budget is pledged. However, all major publishers show a pro-active attitude of great support to Open Access in HEP: Springer’s European Physical Journal C offers Open Access free of charges for all articles in experimental HEP ; Elsevier’s Physics Letters B and Nuclear Physics B will publish Open Access without any author fees the first articles describing the HEP results of the LHC accelerators being commissioned at CERN ; EPS’ Europhysics Letters will publish Open Access free of charge all HEP articles while waiting for the SCOAP3 initiative to be operative. Other Open Access options in HEP are those of SISSA/IOPP, where libraries of institutions active in HEP can have a yearly institutional membership and provide Open Access to all articles produced by their scientists for a nominal fee ; APS, where authors can pay fees to make their articles Open Access through the “free to read” scheme ; and full Open Access journals such as the New Journal of Physics and PhysMath Central Physics A, supported by author fees.

Those steps signify the engagement of publishers towards Open Access in HEP, which is the ultimate scope of the SCOAP3 initiative. SCOAP3 target is universal and sustainable Open Access for all articles in the discipline without any direct financial burden for scientists, nor additional costs for libraries.

The achievements of the international SCOAP3 initiative bear witness to the vision and involvement of librarians worldwide, who not only debate Open Access but do Open Access.The ultimate future and stability of scholarly communication is actually in their hands, and Open Access is the opportunity to achieve their basic objectives of access at a fair and sustainable cost. SCOAP3 offers librarians the possibility to experiment a new Open Access model, in a field where scientists are unconditionally supporting the initiative. To transform this initiative in reality, the vision and commitment of colleagues in the U.S. and worldwide is crucial. To succeed, SCOAP3 needs pledges from more institutes in the U.S. who are interested in re-directing their subscription funds towards the initiative, and partners in other countries who are willing to take part in a countrywide re-organization of subscriptions to HEP journals for their re-direction towards the consortium.

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