AIP | Matters
-- -- July 23, 2012
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Fred Dylla Director's Matters

By H. Frederick Dylla, Executive Director & CEO

Open Access advances in Europe

There were more echoes from across "the pond" last week with big announcements on the issue of open access.

First, the U.K. government released its official comments on the Finch report, a yearlong study of how to best provide wide-ranging access to publications that are underwritten by U.K. funding agencies. The report panel was chaired by Dame Janet Finch, a professor of sociology at the University of Manchester. The news was that the U.K. government largely accepted the recommendations contained in this report.

In giving the government's response to the group's report, U.K. Minister of the State Universities and Science David Willetts said, "I welcome the OA [open access] policies being announced by the funding bodies. I also welcome the publishers' proposed initiatives for improving access for SMEs [small and medium enterprises] and for the public libraries."
 

U.K. Minister of the State Universities and Science David Willetts. Willets responded to the Finch report last week, with plans for moving toward open access. Credit: Department for Business Innovation & Skills The Finch panel was commissioned by the agency that Willetts heads and is similar to the effort in the United States with the Scholarly Publishing Roundtable, on which I had the privilege of serving in 2009.

Among the Finch recommendations accepted by the U.K. Government are:

  • Moving to deliver open access through a "gold" model, where article processing charges are paid upfront to cover the cost of publication;
  • Implementing walk-in rights for the general public, allowing free access to global research publications owned by members of the U.K. Publishers Association via public libraries;
  • Extending the licensing of access by universities to high technology businesses for a nominal charge; and,
  • Beginning April 2013, science articles must be made free to access by one of two routes: preferably upon publication via the "gold" model or within six months of publication on a publically accessible repository (although Finch recommended more flexibility on embargo lengths)—if the articles come from research paid for by one of the U.K.'s seven government-funded grant agencies, the Research Councils UK (RCUK), who annually invest £2.8 billion ($4.4 billion US).

RCUK and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) also both signed off on the major points contained in the Finch report. It is important to note the Research Councils are planning to provide block grants to research institutions to support author payments.

But there's more. Also last week, the European Commission (EC) adopted two communications and one recommendation relating to open access, proposed to exist under an overarching, 7-year plan called Horizon 2020.

The EC will establish open access to scientific publications as a tenet of Horizon 2020, the research and innovation funding program for 2014-2020, but there are several significant steps that have to be taken before this plan is actually codified. At this stage of the process, there are no EC provisions for funding open access through a prescribed "gold" model.

Of course, as I have noted in previous columns, "single payer" solutions are a much more complicated proposition for us "yanks," which is why AIP has and will continue to advocate a mixture of solutions for public access in the United States (e.g. rental models, linking between agency and publisher sites, public library access, and others) as the preferred approach to the evolution of public access.

Nonetheless, kudos are in order for the efforts of our European colleagues. The Finch conferees showed deftness and resolve in their delicate negotiations among funding agencies, publishers, universities, librarians, and researchers. The conferees presented unified recommendations for government adoption, which they believe will work for them.

In fact, the U.K. Publisher's Association successfully championed a model in the Finch plan, pioneered in the United States by the American Physical Society, to provide public library access, in an effort to better serve previously underserved groups. AIP and several of our Member Societies will soon follow suit.

Publishing Matters

PoP in Stockholm for plasma physics conference

AIP Publisher Mark Cassar went to Stockholm, Sweden, earlier this month for the European Physical Society Conference on Plasma Physics and the International Congress on Plasma Physics (EPS/ICPP) to promote AIP's Physics of Plasmas (PoP) at a booth in the main conference hall. Cassar said that overall feedback from the authors and readers was very positive. "PoP is a well-rated journal in the community," he reports. "It is regarded as a ‘great plasmas journal' and publishing in it is usually quick and a good experience." The EPS conference on plasma physics encompasses several fields, including fusion research; magnetic confinement fusion; beam plasmas; and space, astrophysical, and basic plasmas. ICPP's scope includes fundamentals of plasma physics, fusion plasmas, plasmas in astrophysics and space, plasma applications and technologies, and laser-plasma interaction.
Physics Resources Matters

Introducing "Students.GradschoolShopper.com"

AIP's one-stop-shop resource for students looking for the right graduate school, GradschoolShopper, announces Students.GradschoolShopper.com, a complementary student-resource site. This newly developed web resources offers information on different aspects of a search for a graduate career in physics, astronomy, and related fields. Its distinct content is intended to help students make the right choices about their graduate careers. Graduate degree seekers will find useful tools and information, such as admission calendars, advice, and a podcast. Advice pieces include or point to useful tips and resources, such as an application timeline planner and a list of scholarships and fellowships.

GradschoolShopper podcast #5 features Dr. Nicole Gugliucci on 'Radio astronomy, instrumentation and the doctorate defense.' The podcast explores the process of applying to graduate programs, how to prosper in grad school, and how to choose a science career. Seven-to-ten-minute episodes are typically casual interviews on various topics relevant to a graduate degree in science. For example, our current episode collection features interviews with AIP Executive Director and CEO Fred Dylla conversing on what it means to be a scientist, and APS Education and Careers Program Manager Crystal Bailey examining different graduate degrees and available career paths.

Feel free to visit the site, follow the podcast, and share your experience and tips with the physical sciences student community. More content is being added every week. Your suggestions for new content and interviewees is greatly appreciated; contact Moriel Schottlender.
Coming Up

July 24–26

  • CESSE Annual Meeting (Louisville, KY)

July 28–August 1

  • ACA Annual Meeting (Boston, MA)
  • AAPT Summer Meeting (Philadelphia, PA)

Tuesday, July 31

  • Ice cream social and "WOW" drawing, 2:30 pm (College Park, MD)
  • Marcum Workplace Challenge, 7 pm. A 3.5 mile run/walk, accompanied by Long Island's largest office picnic (Jones Beach State Park, NY)

July 29–Aug 2

  • AAPM Annual Meeting (Charlotte, NC)
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