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I would like to support open-access journals by choosing to publish in journals which allow readers free online access. Ideally I would also like to retain copyright instead of signing it over to the journal.

What are some of the better open-access journals in physics? I am particularly interested in journals focused on optics, but let's keep the question general.

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The New Journal of Physics has done a pretty good job attracting serious papers, and there are a number of quite good cold atoms/condensed matter/quantum optics papers.

APS is new to the open access game, but I've no doubt that PRX (which I think, as a community, we should all refer to as Phys. Rev. eXtreme...) will be a good resource when it debuts.

edit: fixed so journal titles are links

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It's exciting that PRX is starting up so soon! – nibot Apr 21 '11 at 0:02
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Ofcourse it is a nice development, but PRX does charge 1500,- per article published... And none of that money goes to the referees -- the journal takes all. – Olaf Apr 21 '11 at 11:50
    
Optics express also charges publication fees. I actually don't know of any peer -reviewed open-access journals that don't. I also have never been paid to referee. – Andrew Apr 21 '11 at 13:18
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Here's the press release about the start of PRX, giving the $1500 figure: prl.aps.org/edannounce/prx-launch . The prx.aps.org site doesn't have much information at the moment. Are there submission guidelines yet? – nibot Apr 21 '11 at 18:01
    
At least APS is a not-for-profit membership-based organization and not a for-profit corporation (like Nature Publishing Group, etc). – nibot Apr 21 '11 at 18:02

Optics express is excellent. Fast turnaround, high impact factor, and decent peer review.

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Thanks, nibot! I should have linked. – Andrew Apr 21 '11 at 14:14

arXiv

Though it is not a journal in the classical meaning (it is a repository of preprints), to some extent it serves as such. So when you care for the open-access, advisable it to upload your paper to arXiv and then send to a peer-review journal (open or not).

Sending a paper to arXiv give also other benefits - it is (almost) immediately accessible to the scientific community. So it both boosts the research process and prevents form being scooped.

(And out of my personal philosophy - publicly funded research should be released openly, not locked in private hands.)

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When is it permissible to post an article on the arXiv? i.e. Won't some journals (such as Science?) refuse to publish an article that has already appeared in the arXiv? – nibot Apr 22 '11 at 18:30
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@nibot: that's called Ingelfinger's Rule. Most journals do not apply it so strictly. It is most often applied to discussions with the media prior to publication. Circulating pre-prints, conference/poster presentations are usually exempt from it. And almost all physics/maths specialty journals will not count arXiv against you (I mean, just look at home many pre-prints get circulated each day in the hep-th section of arXiv!) – Willie Wong Apr 22 '11 at 20:56
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@nibot: Most physics journals I know either explicitly state that archiving a preprint is permitted (they don't count it as a publication) or just don't fight with it. And most current quant-ph are archived. AFAIK Nature and Science do not allow such publication. – Piotr Migdal Apr 23 '11 at 14:04
    
Here is an example of a post at the edge of arXivness acceptability for Nature. Formally OK, but tread with a lot of care. – Emilio Pisanty Feb 23 at 11:07

With regard to open access publication of conference proceedings, I draw your attention to Proceedings of Science http://pos.sissa.it/POSwhat.html . From their webpage:

"The aim of PoS is to offer a versatile, fast, inexpensive and open tool devised and run by the scientific community for the scientific community. The service will hence be open to all readers free of charge and the fees for publication will be kept low on a not-for-profit basis.

Given the Open Access nature of this proceedings collection, PoS has chosen to apply the Creative Commons License (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike). Every author submitting his/her contribution to PoS retains the copyright, and upon submission (s)he applies this license to his/her work."

(emphasis mine).

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