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APS to adopt Creative Commons licensing, publish open access articles and journals

As of 15 February 2011, authors in most Physical Review journals have a new alternative: to pay an article-processing charge whereby their accepted manuscripts will be available barrier-free and open access on publication. These manuscripts will be published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (CC-BY) (, the most permissive of the CC licenses, granting authors and others the right to copy, distribute, transmit, and adapt the work, provided that proper credit is given. This new alternative is in addition to traditional subscription-funded publication; authors may choose one or the other for their accepted papers.

The new article-processing charges, which will cover all costs and provide a sustainable funding model, have been set at $1700 for papers in the Physical Review and $2700 for those in Physical Review Letters. The resulting open access articles will appear alongside and mixed in with subscription-funded articles, converting these journals into 'hybrid' open access journals.

"The most selective of our journals must have higher article-processing charges for their open access articles," said Gene Sprouse, APS Editor in Chief. "Physical Review accepts about 60% of articles submitted and Physical Review Letters roughly 25%, so the costs are higher than in less selective journals."

Revenue from the article-processing charges will decrease the need for subscription income and help to keep the APS subscription price-per-article among the lowest of any physics journals. "We'd like to reduce the pressure on library subscriptions, while opening access more widely. Article-processing charges are a means to accomplish both," said Joseph Serene, APS Treasurer/Publisher.

Also as of 15 February, Physical Review Special Topics - Accelerators and Beams (PRST-AB, and Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research (PRST-PER, will have their full archives and all future papers made available under the CC-BY license, thereby converting both of these journals to 'gold' open access journals. PRST-PER's publication-charge scheme has been realigned with the new program. PRST-AB will continue to be funded by its sponsors. Finally, APS's Free to Read program will be phased out, and all of these papers covered by the CC-BY license.

These developments for existing APS journals follow the announcement in January of a new journal, Physical Review X (PRX,, an online-only, fully open access, primary research journal covering all of physics and its applications to related fields. As a 'gold' open access journal, PRX opened its doors wide to all fields of physics, including those that have not conveniently fitted within the scope of our existing journals.


Contact: James W. Taylor
American Physical Society

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