AAS Journals Will Switch to Open Access in 2022

Press Release From: American Astronomical Society
Posted: Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Research results in astronomy, solar physics, and planetary science are about to become more widely accessible to scientists and the public alike. The American Astronomical Society (AAS), a leading nonprofit professional association for astronomers, today announced the switch of its prestigious journals to fully open access (OA) as of 1 January 2022.

Under this change, all articles in the AAS journal portfolio will be immediately open for anyone to freely read. The transition will affect the Astronomical Journal (AJ), the Astrophysical Journal (ApJ), Astrophysical Journal Letters (ApJL), and the Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series (ApJS); the Planetary Science Journal, the AAS’s newest journal published in partnership with its Division for Planetary Sciences, is already fully open access.

The AAS’s community-owned, peer-reviewed journals collectively publish more than 4,000 articles each year from a diverse and international authorship, and they consistently feature some of the most-read and most-cited research results in the astronomical sciences. The transition to OA will allow everyone to access this high-quality and trusted research, and it will offer scientists low-cost fully OA options for publishing their research in astronomy and related disciplines. The new publishing policy aligns with ongoing efforts by the Society to center diversity, equity, and inclusion in its work within the astronomical community.

“The entire Board of Trustees supports the AAS in taking this significant step,” says AAS President Paula Szkody (University of Washington). “Our journals have consistently been pioneers of important changes in scientific publishing, such as offering online access in the 1990s and switching to paperless publication in 2014. This latest move to fully open access ensures there are no barriers for anyone to discover the exciting research that is advancing our understanding of the universe.”

Under the new OA model, subscription charges and paywalls will be entirely eliminated, providing readers with immediate universal access to all past and future research articles published in the AAS journals. Reasonable article publication charges will cover the journals’ operating costs, and the Society will also enhance its waiver and discount program, providing generous assistance to eligible authors who don’t have sufficient funding.

“Science works best when it is as transparent and as accessible as possible,” notes AAS Editor in Chief Ethan Vishniac. “This change opens up our journals to the entire world, and our expanded waiver program removes the barriers to publication for authors everywhere.”

“The move to OA will ensure broader and more equitable access to the important research published in our journals,” adds AAS Executive Officer Kevin Marvel. “This is an important step in keeping with the AAS’s mission to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe as a diverse and inclusive astronomical community.”

As of January 2022, the AAS’s journal portfolio will be fully compliant with recent open-science government and funding-body mandates like Europe’s Plan SUK Research and Innovation's OA policy, and others. Moreover, US research funding agencies such as NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF) have expressed support for OA publishing. NASA and NSF generally cover publication costs as allowable expenses for grants, which would include costs of the new OA model.

Since 2017, the AAS journals have provided a hybrid OA option, allowing authors the choice to publish their articles traditionally or OA. “We’ve seen that articles published open access in our journals are on average more widely cited than those that are paywalled,” says AAS Chief Publishing Officer Julie Steffen. “The OA article describing the Event Horizon Telescope’s observations of the ‘shadow’ of a black hole, for instance, has been downloaded an astounding 340,000 times by people all over the world. The transition of all our journals from hybrid to fully OA in January will provide this same wide audience access to the entire cosmos.”

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