Open Access

Open access (OA) is the practice of providing unrestricted access via the Internet to peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles. Learn more below...


Open access publishing and publications have experienced substantial growth, expansion and uptake in recent years. What exactly is an open access publication? There are many definitions, but in a nutshell an open access publication is a publication that provides immediately free online access to all users worldwide.

This may sound like a tall order, and yet there are to date over 4000 journal publications that fit this definition. The need for this type of access has been driven by the out-of-control costs for scholarly publications. Statistics kept by the Association for Research Libraries show that that between 1986 and 2006 journal prices have increased by 321%, while inflation has increased 68%. At research institutions around the world, scholarly work is submitted to commercial publishers only to be bought back by libraries at those same institutions at immense costs. The current system of scholarly publishing is not sustainable. Today the LANL Research Library has a world-class journal collection in science and technology which is under siege and will not last without changes in scholarly publishing.

So, why should you consider publishing in an open access publication?

  • Increased dissemination
  • Articles can be cited sooner
  • Articles potentially cited more frequently
  • Institutional costs for scholarly publishing are decreased

FYI, according to the LANL Purchase Card Program, OA publication fees are an allowable LANL Purchase Card expense. For more information contact

SCOAP3: Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics

The LANL Research Library has joined many libraries in the US and internationally in expressing support for the Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics (SCOAP3). SCOAP3 aims to make articles in selected high energy physics (HEP) journals free to read for everyone. It is a proposed mechanism for a field of science (in this case particle physics) to pay for its own publishing costs, rather than make the readers of its journals pay via subscriptions or authors pay via author fees.

In this model, HEP funding agencies and libraries, which today purchase journal subscriptions to implicitly support the peer-review service, federate to explicitly cover the base costs of publishing and peer-review, and the associated publishers make the electronic versions of their HEP journals free to read widely across the globe.

In the proposed SCOAP3 model, everyone involved in producing the literature of particle physics (universities, labs, and funding agencies) pays into the consortium which then pays publishers and all articles in the field become available via Open Access.

The high energy physics (HEP) community essentially pioneered open access (OA), through repositories such as the physics archive (which started originally at LANL, and is now the preprint server), the CERN preprint document server, SLAC Spires, etc. It is this same HEP community that is pioneering SCOAP3. The LANL Research Library is supporting SCOAP3 as a member of the HEP community and a proponent of open access principles.

The Open Access (OA) tenets of granting unrestricted access to the results of publicly-funded research are in contrast with current models of scientific publishing, where access is restricted to journal customers. At the same time, subscription costs increase and add considerable strain on libraries, forced to cancel an increasing number of journals subscriptions. This situation is particularly acute in fields like high energy physics (HEP), where pre-prints describing scientific results are timely available online. There is a growing concern within the academy that the future of high-quality journals, and the peer-review system they administer, is at risk. SCOAP3 is developed to address this situation for HEP and, as an experiment, science at large. SCOAP3 proposes, for the first time, to link quality and price thereby stimulating competition and enabling considerable medium- and long-term savings.

SCOAP3 will initially seek to work with 5 core HEP journals:
  • Physical Review D (APS)
  • Physics Letters B (Elsevier)
  • Nuclear Physics B (Elsevier)
  • Journal of High Energy Physics (SISSA/IOP)
  • European Physical Journal C (Springer)
For more information please see the Report of the SCOAP3 Working Party (PDF) or the SCOAP3 FAQ for US Libraries.

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