5 January 2015
For several decades, the AAS has been a leader in the publication of astronomical research. From being in the vanguard of electronic publication, to our early adoption of Green Open Access (consistent with the subsequent requirements of the government), to a number of new initiatives such as data behind the figures and other enhanced publication innovations, we are leaders. Publication of the ApJ and AJ is the largest and, arguably, the most important enterprise of the Society. It is essential that we continue to innovate and to lead.
The last printed AAS journal was produced last month; we are now fully electronic. Yet many of our practices and procedures remain from when all aspects of publication were carried out on paper. In addition, the identities of our two journals have become less distinct over the past several decades. Recognizing these issues, the Society leadership felt it was time for a thorough re—evaluation of our scientific publications.
Over the past year, a Task Force on the Future of our Journals, appointed by the Council, has been working hard on a set of recommendations to enhance the value and utility of the AAS publications. Members of the Task Force included members of the Publications Board and the Council, as well as several other thought leaders in scientific publication including those both inside and outside the Society. The full membership will be available on the AAS website.
The Task Force has recommended a number of changes that we believe will position our journals to remain leaders in our discipline in the coming decades. The AAS Council, which has ultimate responsibility for all AAS publications, has unanimously approved these recommendations, and they will now move to an Transition Team involving the Editors, members of the Publication Board and Executive Office staff as well as our publisher IOP. This Group will work over the next two years on the many details that must be addressed to implement the forward-looking changes outlined below.
The Task Force found that our two titles were valuable brands, but because they have evolved to the point that there is little or no differentiation in content, the identities of the two journals are in need of re-definition; furthermore, their identity as AAS publications needs to be strengthened. To achieve these goals, we plan to take the following actions.
The Council is excited about this process and views it as a major step forward in meeting our Society’s mission to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the Universe. We look forward to engaging with our members as we make this transition in order to assure that the AAS journals continue to thrive and that they remain the leading publications in our discipline.