Tuesday, December 05, 2006

JHEP Editorial Plea

In my email today, a gentle call to scientists to support JHEP. One must wonder if JHEP is in trouble. Let's hope not. Read on:

Dear Colleague,

In the first half of 2006 our Journals have seen many important changes: a new instrumentation journal, JINST, has been launched, new scientific directors for JHEP and JCAP have been appointed to replace Hector Rubinstein, now Scientific Advisor to SISSA Medialab. We wish to remind you of the basic differences between our not-for-profit Journals and those published by commercial publishing companies.

The policy of the SISSA-IOP J-Journals is the following:
- to maintain the philosophy that publication of research results must be fully controlled by scientists, so as to ensure the highest scientific quality;
- to produce information efficiently at a reasonable cost, thereby minimizing the financial pressure on our libraries and grants.

We are convinced that it is unfair that publishing companies make huge profits exploiting the ingenuousness of scientists in the questions related with the publication of their own results in Scientific Journals. Although scientists voluntarily carry out all the publication-related work (starting with the actual writing of the paper to the peer-review), they are still requested to pay unwarranted
and outrageous subscription fees by commercial publishing companies for them to access these very journals as readers.

Here are some examples. The yearly subscription cost of our journals, which covers only necessary expenses unavoidably related with publication and marketing of all published scientific contributions, are the following:

JHEP: EUR 1,622
JCAP: EUR 1,174
JINST (free in 2006): 745 in 2007
(all institutional prices)

The sum of the subscriptions to Nuclear Physics B and Physics Letters B is more than fifteen times higher than that of JHEP (to which the combined NPB + PLB can be compared), i.e., 15,211 EUR (Institutional price) plus 10,301 EUR (Institutional price) = 25,512 EUR. In Instrumentation, JINST's main competitor, Nuclear Instruments and Methods A, charges as an annual subscription fee 12,191 EUR (Institutional price).

Exploiting this strategy, commercial publishing companies have managed to generate profits of the order of one billion euros a year(Elsevier), which are ultimately taken from research resources.

Besides being run and published entirely by electronic means, the other key features of our journals are:

1. The Editor-in-Charge is given full responsibility for acceptance or rejection of the paper. His word is final and cannot be questioned by the Editorial Office (on the other hand, authors can appeal against editorial decisions). This has proved to be very efficient in selecting papers of very high quality and consequently Thompson ISI's impact factors for JCAP and JHEP are amongst the highest in physics
(JINST started publication this year so it is not rated yet). Please see the data appended below.

2. Large companies misuse the copyright assignment, forbidding authors to use their own material when they need to do so, e.g., for publishing collected reprints. They have done it in the past, based on non-scientific considerations. We do not. Indeed unlike those of commercial publishers our policies are never in conflict with scientific interests because science is our only concern.

We very much rely on your support and we would appreciate it if you could contribute by conveying to colleagues the information above and encouraging those who have not yet done so to submit their results to our journals.

We do believe that there should not be any monopoly of publication. The existence of several journals (hopefully in the future all not-for-profit enterprises), protects the author against the possibility that if a mistake is made the paper cannot be
published. Furthermore, we see no reason why large companies involved in media, newspapers and other matters should have such control of scientific research to which they contribute nothing.

Is it up to all of us, and up to you as an author in particular, to stop this unacceptable state of affairs.

Sincerely yours,

Marc Henneaux - Scientific Director
Hector Rubinstein - Scientific Advisor

IF data

(We are fully aware that Impact Factors are far from being absolute measures of quality and can be, for instance, influenced by fashion effects. IFs give only a partial indication. The data below are thus to be taken with a grain of salt)

Journal IF 2003 IF 2004 IF 2005

JHEP 6.854 6.503 5.944
Physical Review D 4.358 5.156 4.852
Nuclear Physiscs B 5.409 5.819 5.522
Physics Letter B 4.298 4.619 5.301
Euro Phy J C 6.162 3.209

JCAP 7.914 6.793
A & A 3.781 3.694 4.223
Class and Quant Grav 2.107 2.941 2.938
Astrophysical Journal 6.187 6.237 6.308
inter J Mod Phys D 1.507 1.500 1.225