How not to promote science, American Physical Society style

The mission statement of the American Physical Society includes in their mission statement, among other things, the intention to be "an authoritative source of physics information for the advancement of physics and the benefit of humanity".

To this end, they seem to have locked papers from Physical Review from 1948 behind a paywall, for subscribers only, or for those who are ready to pay $25 for access. Thank you, APS. Yes, I know you have expenses, but I also know that I pay more than $100 a year to be a member of your society. Is this really advancing physics and benefiting humanity?

We seem to be locked into our notion that scientific journals belong to the same closed, proprietary publishing model as grocery-store checkout-line magazines. Our blindness to how this utterly contradicts the nature of the scientific endeavor is very similar to what I was just reading in commentary by Eddington from 1920 about how the astronomical community seemed to be clinging to the gravitational contraction model for powering stars, despite the fact that it no longer made sense across a wide range of science.

2 responses so far

  • Christina Pikas says:

    I have to say that this APS is one of the most reasonable societies. It does cost them to make the older things available and the scanning cost something. In nearly every professional society the dues get you at most the current years (like 1997- or 2003-).

    Scholarly journals are much worse than grocery store magazines price-wise, but that's another story.

    • Christina Pikas says:

      oh, and another thing, public libraries in the US can get free access to the entire archive for in-branch use. I guess you're not in the US anymore 🙁