Case Studies/CERN

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CERN, large hadron collider, science, research


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CERN is one of the world’s premier scientific institutions–home of the Large Hadron Collider and birthplace of the web.

CERN has become a supporter of Creative Commons to acknowledge the contribution that its licenses make to accelerating scientific communication and simplifying the way researchers share their work. The Creative Commons Attribution license is an important tool for the publication of CERN’s experimental results. — Dr. Salvatore Mele, CERN Head of Open Access


CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, consists of over 10,000 scientists and 50,000 researchers worldwide working to tackle otherwise irresolvable technical and scientific challenges since its founding in 1953. CERN is home to the Large Hadron Collider, the largest scientific instrument ever built and the highest-energy particle accelerator in the world, and is the birthplace of the World Wide Web.

The Large Hadron Collider
In addition to being the largest scientific instrument ever built and the highest-energy particle accelerator in the world, the Large Hadron Collider is also an epicenter of scientific collaboration: over 10,000 scientists and engineers from over 80 countries worked together to build the $9 billion vault. Over time, the LHC is expected to answer some of the biggest physics questions ever, making the world easier to understand for everyone. That's where open access comes in: CERN, the European research center that houses the LHC, in partnership with leading publishers, has adopted Creative Commons licenses for the publication of the LHC results. "CC licenses are the perfect tool for us to make this information available," says Dr. Salvatore Mele, Head of Open Access at CERN. "In the future we are going to hear much more about data openness and re-use in this discipline."

CERN also spearheaded SCOAP3, a consortium of research institutes, libraries and funding agencies aiming to convert to open access all journals in high-energy physics, in partnership with leading publishers.. Once the LHC is in full operation, the results derived from it will be available for remix and reuse, bringing us infinitely closer to solving big questions around things like the Higgs boson and Dark Matter. "We see a great match between CC and the high-energy physics community," Mele says. And through the kind of sharing advocated by CC, "we aim to unravel the mysteries of the universe."

CERN Library has also committed to openness by publishing its book catalog online as open data using the CC0 public domain dedication. Jens Vigen, the head of CERN Library, says,

“Books should only be catalogued once. Currently the public purse pays for having the same book catalogued over and over again. Librarians should act as they preach: data sets created through public funding should be made freely available to anyone interested. Open Access is natural for us, here at CERN we believe in openness and reuse… By getting academic libraries worldwide involved in this movement, it will lead to a natural atmosphere of sharing and reusing bibliographic data in a rich landscape of so-called mash-up services, where most of the actors who will be involved, both among the users and the providers, will not even be library users or librarians.”

License Usage

The first results of the LHC experiments are published under various Creative Commons licenses:

These have appeared in the European Physical Journal (Springer) doi:10.1140/epjc/s10052-009-1227-4 (CC BY-NC); Journal of High Energy Physics (SISSA), doi:10.1007/JHEP02(2010)041 (CC BY-NC); Physics Letters (Elsevier), doi:10.1016/j.physletb.2010.03.064 (CC BY); and Physical Review Letters (APS), doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.105.022002 (CC BY).

CERN Library has dedicated its bibliographic data to the public domain using the CC0 public domain dedication.


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