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SCOAP3: A New Model for Scholarly Communication

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For immediate release:
April 8, 2008

For more information, contact:
Karla Hahn
Association of Research Libraries
202-296-2296
karla@arl.org

SCOAP3: A New Model for Scholarly Communication

ARL Releases Preprint Essay

Washington DC—The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has published an online preprint essay by Ivy Anderson, Director of Collections, California Digital Library, encouraging libraries to support SCOAP3, the Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics.

SCOAP3 is a new model for scholarly communication proposed by a community of scientists. Physicists interested in expanding access to their literature have designed a novel approach to garner support from individual libraries, library consortia, research institutions, and even nation states to turn a core set of journals in the high energy physics discipline into open access publications.

The project principals have estimated that the total amount of money currently spent by the library community on these titles worldwide is about $15M US. They estimate that the US commitment to make the publications open access would be $4.5M. The plan involves providing a financial base of support by creating a consortium of institutions that would “redirect” the money they currently pay for subscription access to support open access publication.

On February 29, 2008, the University of California, Berkeley, hosted a meeting for the US community during which the SCOAP3 model was described and organizers reported on financial commitments received to date. Anderson’s essay was inspired largely by the discussions at that meeting.

In her essay, Anderson discusses three key elements that distinguish SCOAP3 from other open access initiatives:

  • SCOAP3 is a funding consortium that seeks to mediate between author and publisher, while still conceiving of payment as a supply-side activity.

  • SCOAP3 is non-disruptive to authors—and to a substantial degree, to publishers and societies.

  • SCOAP3 has the potential to fundamentally alter the role of libraries in the publishing process.

Anderson encourages “everyone interested in the grand experiment of open access [OA] publishing, whether pro or con, [to] sit up and take notice of this audacious new OA accelerator that is SCOAP3.” She also calls for “all libraries who envision a future in which academic libraries assume new roles in building and supporting the research cyberinfrastructure, or who seek to advance the convergence of libraries and academic publishing, [to] join the experiment and boldly accelerate its findings.”

Accompanying Anderson’s essay is a brief article by Julia Blixrud, Assistant Executive Director, External Relations, ARL, and Assistant Director, Public Programs, SPARC, presenting four steps that libraries and consortia can take to move SCOAP3 forward.

See the ARL Web site for the preprint essay by Ivy Anderson, “The Audacity of SCOAP3,” and article by Julia Blixrud, “Taking Action on SCOAP3,” ARL: A Bimonthly Report, no. 257 (April 2008), http://www.arl.org/resources/pubs/br/br257.shtml. This issue of the Bimonthly Report will be in print by mid-April.

Slides and videos of the presentations given at the February 29 meeting in Berkeley are available on the SCOAP3 Web site http://www.scoap3.org/focalmeeting.html.


The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 123 research libraries in North America. Its mission is to influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve. ARL pursues this mission by advancing the goals of its member research libraries, providing leadership in public and information policy to the scholarly and higher education communities, fostering the exchange of ideas and expertise, and shaping a future environment that leverages its interests with those of allied organizations. ARL is on the Web at http://www.arl.org/.