SPARC honors Optical Society of America as a pioneer in scholarly publishing innovation

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For Immediate Release
January 14, 2010

For more information, contact:
Jennifer McLennan
jennifer [at] arl [dot] org
(202) 296-2296 ext 121

Washington, D.C. – With the launch of Optics Express in 1997, the Optical Society of America (OSA) created an open-access journal that has stood the test of time to become a both a scientific and financial success. The journal, now entering its second decade of publication, is consistently ranked among the top titles in its field. And, it has proved to be such a successful financial venture that the Society is this year rolling out three more publications that follow the same open-access business model.

For being a shining example of community-driven creativity and innovation in scholarly communications, the Optical Society of America has been named the first SPARC Innovator of 2010. SPARC recognizes the team at OSA that brought Optics Express into existence and nurtured its growth and sustainability:

  • Dr. Joseph Eberly, founding editor, Carnegie Professor of Physics and Professor of Optics at the University of Rochester and director of the Rochester Theory Center.
  • Dr. Michael Duncan, second editor-in-chief, research physicist at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Bethesda, Maryland.
  • Dr. Martijn de Sterke, current editor-in-chief, professor in physics at the University of Sydney, Australia.
  • Dr. John Childs, senior director of publications at OSA in Washington, D.C.

Optics Express publishes original, peer-reviewed articles in all fields of optical science and technology twice a month – within an average of 47 days after article acceptance. The quick turnaround, along with creative ways to highlight content – such as electronic cover images for every issue and Focus issues – have made Optics Express a sought-after publishing destination for authors and a top journal in the field. OSA is introducing three new journals under the Optics Express brand and publishing model over the next year: Biomedical Optic ExpressOptical Material Express and Energy Express.

“Through the efforts of many people, we built something very unique that came together,” said Childs. “We use Optics Express as a harbinger, a model for what I think is probably going to come to pass.”

“OSA’s success with Optics Express is a testament to the fact that Open Access can not only help accelarate the pace of scientific communication, but can also be a viable, sustainable, commercial option,” says SPARC Executive Director Heather Joseph. “Initially, Optics Express was viewed as an experiment, but it has become a highly regarded journal and a popular destination for manuscripts,” she said. “The financial success it has achieved is just the icing on the cake.” 

Joseph added, “SPARC named Optics Express a Leading Edge partner in 2004. It’s our pleasure to be able to now name the publishers of Optics Express as SPARC Innovators.”

The SPARC Innovator program recognizes advances in scholarly communication propelled by an individual, institution, or group. Typically, these advances exemplify SPARC principles by challenging the status quo in scholarly communication for the benefit of researchers, libraries, universities, and the public. SPARC Innovators are featured on the SPARC Web site semi-annually and have included Mike Rossner of the Rockefeller University Press; R. Preston McAfee of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena; Harvard University FAS; student leaders; Ted and Carl Bergstrom; Melissa Hagemann of the Open Society Institute; the University of California; and Herbert Van de Sompel of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. SPARC Innovators are selected by the SPARC staff in consultation with the SPARC Steering Committee.


SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), with SPARC Europe and SPARC Japan, is an international alliance of more than 800 academic and research libraries working to create a more open system of scholarly communication. SPARC’s advocacy, educational, and publisher partnership programs encourage expanded dissemination of research.