Ever since CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Switzerland, opened its doors in 2008, researchers at its Large Hadron Collider have pushed for their results to be publicly accessible. The field of high-energy experimental physics is a bit of an anomaly in the scientific arena. It’s a relatively small community—about 15,000 scientists globally—and one that is acutely dependent on collaboration and sharing (about half of those scientists are spread across just the four LHC experiments).
Thus, the notion of open-access publication is deeply ingrained in the nature of the field. But until recently, maintaining that ethic has not been all that straightforward. That’s because each CERN paper’s open-access publication had to be individually negotiated since most of the peer-reviewed journals in which the articles appear are not traditionally open. At a rate of about 7,000 articles per year, this is not a trivial task.
Northeastern University physics professor George Alverson serves as the head of the publications office for one of the four LHC experiments and knows the challenges of the piecemeal approach. “We have a very involved and rigorous internal review process,” he said. “It’ll take a year or two from data to submission to the journal.”