The Large Hadron Collider/ATLAS at CERN

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The large hadron collider (LHC) is in for repairs, but Elsevier is ready to accept papers and publish them as open access articles, with no charges to the authors.

Since it’s Elsevier, you want to read the announcement twice, because you suspect it’s gone through enough hands to have multiple meanings. And this announcement rewards your effort:

On the occasion of these ground-breaking first results, Elsevier has chosen to meet the costs of sponsored access itself because of the scale of the effort and to reflect our long-standing involvement in the field by sharing the experimental results through accredited, peer-reviewed journals. Elsevier is proud to support these unique early collaborative efforts of the high energy physics community.

I applaud Elsevier for being so pro-author. But differernt readers might elicit differing meanings. This is both a high-minded attempt to appeal to the scientists at CERN (and be first in line for their first papers), but also a canny defense of paid content (or sponsored access, whichever term you like). Access is like boxed wine! Giving away access is part of a celebration! It’s a party for articles!

The most amusing part is that while Elsevier may provide unpaid access to these articles, the population able to understand, much less build upon, the experiments will likely ultimately resolve to the authors themselves, who will remain the only scientists with access to the LHC, the tool necessary to conduct the next set of experiments.

It’s not about access. It’s about utility, and these articles may change the world, but only for a very few scientists, and only a fraction of these will have access to the scientific tool that will extend the experiments.

It could be a very small party, indeed.

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Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson is the CEO of RedLink and RedLink Network, a past-President of SSP, and the founder of the Scholarly Kitchen. He has worked as Publisher at AAAS/Science, CEO/Publisher of JBJS, Inc., a publishing executive at the Massachusetts Medical Society, Publishing Director of the New England Journal of Medicine, and Director of Medical Journals at the American Academy of Pediatrics. Opinions on social media or blogs are his own.