Open Access—unfettered, but not costless
AIP was founded 76 years ago by five of the current Member Societies to combine resources for common activities such as publishing for the physical science community. The publishing of scientific journals remains the primary communication tool for our community. Publishing is also AIP's primary source of revenue supporting all of our other activities. In 2007, AIP published 354,000 pages of scientific information for AIP Journals and Conference Proceedings, Member Society journals, Affiliated Society journals and other customers. For our own journals, we finance the entire publishing process: management of the editorial process (which maintains the scope of the journal), collection of manuscripts from authors, oversight of the peer review process (which insures scientific integrity), translation of the text and figures into the form visible on the published page, final publication (both in the traditional print journal and online versions), and preservation of the digital version over the coming decades. This enterprise requires both human and capital resources: for AIP's nine archival journals, we expend over $22 million annually for the entire operation, including editorial, production, printing, and online hosting tasks. Some 300 staff at our Melville Publication Center, 15 editors and 56 associate editors in 17 editorial offices, and thousands of independent peer reviewers from around the world are involved. Who pays for this enterprise? Most of the required revenue is provided by subscriptions from nearly 2,000 institutional or regional library systems.
The wide availability of information on the Web through services such as Google and Wikipedia, coupled with the zeal of scholars to distribute their research to as broad an audience as possible, has led to the so-called "open access" movement calling for all information to be posted online, without charge to the reader. Many libraries have become advocates of open access in response to cost pressures induced by rapid journal growth, proliferation of new journals in niche subjects, and high prices of journals offered by commercial publishers. Since library subscribers are AIP's most important customers, AIP and its Member Societies are very sensitive to their concerns. We understand the enthusiasm for open access for the obvious reason that it does increase access to research. AIP has been trying to educate all parties dependent on scientific publishing that open access may mean free access to readers, but it is not free of cost. Someone must bear the costs. These real and substantial costs have to be paid by some combination of the author, subscribing institution, distributor and the readers.
AIP's current subscription practice apportions subscription costs according to the size of the subscribing institution, and offers price incentives depending on the number of titles purchased and the length of the contract. For individuals and small institutions, we offer "Journal Packs," allowing readers' choice in purchasing only the articles they want to read. Additionally, AIP has been working with library consortia (groups of libraries tied together through some common ground like geographic proximity or under the umbrella of one university like University of California's multiple campuses), offering reduced-rate access to multiple journals. This versatile subscription scheme has allowed us to nearly triple the number of readers/subscribers to our journals since they first went online nearly a decade ago. And if this widespread distribution still does not satisfy some authors, they can pay an up-front fee that will make their articles open access. Interestingly, for a variety of reasons, this option does not appear to be very popular at present. Only a small fraction of AIP's tens of thousands of authors have chosen this option in the past year.
Several large institutions are advocating open access. Just two weeks ago, Harvard University's Faculty of the Arts and Sciences voted to require all university authors to post their journal articles in Harvard's institutional repository, unless the author makes a specific request to opt out. AIP's current policies do not necessarily conflict with Harvard's new policy in that AIP allows authors to post copies of the final version of their articles on their own websites or on their institutional sites. However, we make it clear that subsequent distribution of the article (e.g., in other collections for commercial use) is prohibited without AIP's explicit permission. As we go forward, we will continue to engage with our institutional subscribers and our publishing partners to encourage the growth of access models that sustains this important enterprise for the scientific community.
To learn more about AIP's position on open access, you are invited to read my response to a Harvard Crimson editorial (written jointly with Gene D. Sprouse of APS) and my recent letter in the Boston Globe. I will revisit this topic in the future.
Don't get shut off
February was an important month for the Fulfillment Services team, as it signaled the end of the grace period for institutions that have not sent in their 2008 subscription renewals. Fulfillment Services dispatches a series of emails to lapsing subscribers, alerting them to the potential loss of their online access. These "shut-off" notices are especially critical in the online environment. Should a library's online subscription lapse, the library often loses access to many years worth of content for a given journal—not just to the most recent issues. This is why Fulfillment Services makes every effort to contact the libraries. We are committed to helping our library customers provide continuous access for the researchers they serve.
Who's hiring physics Bachelors?
The Statistical Research Center recently updated this very popular on-line resource. This website identifies many of the employers who have recently hired new physics bachelor's degree recipients. Since employment opportunities vary geographically, these employer lists are searchable by state. The lists may be useful to job seekers in identifying the variety of companies that hire physics bachelors and to physics departments wishing to strengthen contacts with their local employers.
History that Matters: The Life and Heritage of Science
Save the date! On May 9, 2008, AIP will host a symposium on The Life and Heritage of Science featuring talks from several physicists and historians, discussing the many changes and challenges occurring in the history of science field during the last 35 years of Spencer's tenure as Director of the AIP Center for the History of Physics. This event is open to all staff. Seating is limited. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like more information.
Let's get personal
In future issues of AIP Matters, we would like to occasionally incorporate short articles about notable accomplishments of individual employees, as they relate to his/her division, department, AIP as a whole, or even to the physics community. Examples of such accomplishments could include the recent publication of a book, an award/honor received, or the development of a new business practice that benefits AIP. Articles that deal with employee personal accomplishments will appear in AIP Employee Connection, which will debut in the spring. If you have significant, professional and AIP-relevant accomplishments to share, send a brief description to Human Resources@aip.org. We want to hear from you, and we want to hear about you!
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For past issues of this newsletter, visit the AIP Matters archives.