With this issue Optics Express begins Volume 6 of publication. We’ve been in business long enough that most OSA members, and a large fraction of the world-wide optics community, are aware of Optics Express, even if many have not yet felt a strong push toward all-electronic peer-reviewed publishing. One reason for hesitation can be a natural concern for permanence of the scientific record, a concern about archiving. What is the assurance that articles published electronically will be openly available to scientists in the future?
Libraries have been the traditional archives for OSA print journals, and OSA continues to take part in discussions with science librarians about proposed innovations in the library’s archival role, innovations that are specific to the growing importance of all-electronic publishing. To cite specific instances from 1999, we at Optics Express have had useful person-to-person discussions with the principal consortium of Canadian science journal publishers and archivists in Ottawa, with the university-wide science library service team at Stanford, with the head librarian at the Naval Research Laboratory and with OSA’s Library Advisory Committee. We expect libraries to become more and more comfortable with electronic archiving, but until a uniform library policy emerges it’s quite legitimate for our authors to ask about the permanence of their publishing record.
A key element of the answer to this question is that following a six-month trial period in 1997, a record short review time, Optics Express has been continuously included in the citation index of the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), the principal citation organizer for scientific and technical journals world-wide. This ensures that the record of articles published is as easily searched for Optics Express as for any other peer-reviewed journal.
Another part of the answer is provided by the availability of hard copies. From our first issue every author or reader has been free to make a personal printed copy of anything published in Optics Express without charge. On top of that, for the public as well as OSA members, we produce a hard-format copy of each volume (currently via CD-ROM) and sell them widely. These are available to any library or research group for $500, to OSA members for personal use for $50 and to Optics Express authors for $35.
Further, as a matter of policy, OSA will maintain the OpEx server as long as the society exists. We have a backup of our server and we send a printed version of each issue to the Library of Congress. In other words, the society’s commitment to Optics Express is the same as to its other journals. In fact, the society’s commitment to archiving is so strong that it has established a written formal policy and a procedure for funding the maintenance and migration of the archive. In an early issue of Optics Express we announced this policy: “OSA is committed to archive the contents of Optics Express indefinitely, including migrating the content to a new medium should technological change demand it.”
In closing, let us remind you that Optics Express maintains an early-alert service. If you would like to receive by e-mail a list of the Table of Contents of each issue, every second Monday, just send an e-mail message to email@example.com with the word “Subscribe” in the body of the message.
With best wishes for the new millenium,
J. H. Eberly, Editor
J. Childs, Publisher