OSA members have asked me frequently in the past two or three years, what is this business with “open access” publishing? Will it happen? Is it already a big factor in some fields? How will it affect authors and readers of OSA’s journals? The article “Whose Research Is It Anyway?” by Tom Price on is important to read because it addresses such matters by focusing on the role of federal legislation that would require federally funded research results to be posted online for free. Senators John Cornyn and Joseph Lieberman introduced a bill during the last Congress—the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006—that wasn’t enacted but that would have applied to research funded by a wide range of federal agencies relevant to scientific publishing. It’s reasonable to expect that similar legislation will be introduced this year, renewing attention on the open access debate.
So what is OSA’s position? Members should be aware that last year the OSA Publications Council (chaired by William Rhodes through 2006 and James Fienup currently) received a thorough analysis of open access from the Long Term Planning Group (chaired by Paul Kelley in 2005 and Peter Knight since 2006) following their careful study. The Council subsequently made the following recommendations:
• A major programmatic shift to open access in OSA publications is not needed.
• A “holistic” approach is best. OSA journals are interdependent.
• Government involvement in open access is uncertain. OSA is actively monitoring the situation in concert with our sister societies.
• OSA already offers the following open-access alternatives: Optics Express, single-article open access, early posting and author posting of PDFs.
I’m pleased to report that these points have been accepted by the OSA Board of Directors. They allow the Board and the Publications Council to take the sensible approach of closely monitoring the actions by other societies with significant publishing activity, cooperating with them when appropriate, and watching for any further developments in Congress that may require a specific response.
In the meantime, as most of us know, OSA was well ahead of the game in providing the Optics Express model long before the term “open access” was in common use. This journal now has a wide range of imitators and is the most highly cited scientific journal in optics and photonics. In addition, OSA offers open access in its other journals, including JOSA A, JOSA B, Applied Optics, Optics Letters and the Journal of Optical Networking, on a per-article basis for a fee. These open-access alternatives have provided OSA the opportunity to extend its reach to a wider readership, and to solidify its role as a leader in scientific communication. I’ll be pleased to get comments about open access from members, and requests for specific additional information can be addressed to John Childs, Senior Director of Publications.
— Joseph Eberly