Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

ACS editor makes the case for ACS Author Choice program

Lawrence J. Marnett, AuthorChoice: A Great Way to Get Your Papers Read, Chemical Research in Toxicology, September 17, 2007.  An editorial.  (Thanks to George Porter.)  Excerpt:

The American Chemical Society instituted a new program last fall called ACS AuthorChoice, which enables authors to purchase immediate and permanent Open Access status for their accepted manuscripts in ACS journals. Pricing is on a sliding scale, depending on whether the author is an ACS member and/or is affiliated with an institution that has a site license to ACS journals. The highest price is $3000, and the lowest price is $1000. ACS AuthorChoice is the Society's response to the Open Access movement, which has been the subject of much sound and fury over the past few years....

The Society is blending its conventional subscription revenue with a small amount of AuthorChoice revenue (at least at the outset) to offset the cost of peer review and publication. The solid institutional subscription base for ACS journal publications has enabled the Society to institute the very reasonable rates noted above ($1000 for an ACS member at a subscribing institution).

So how is the experiment going? It's a little early to tell, but some very interesting data have already been generated. So far, there aren't many ACS AuthorChoice logos sprinkled around the tables of contents of ACS journals (all ACS AuthorChoice articles are available [here]). So, at first glance, it looks as though our authors aren't too committed to Open Access, at least when they have to pay for it. If that is true, it's too bad, but even if it is true, I think authors should reconsider because they are missing an important point.

Why do authors publish papers? So people will read them, and ACS AuthorChoice is a great way to get them read! I've published five articles via ACS AuthorChoice since last October and have been monitoring the downloads in consultation with ACS staff. It's too early to determine statistical significance, but so far, the trends look very good. In fact, the first article that I published as an ACS AuthorChoice article (in October 2006) ranks as one of the top downloaded articles in CRT for 2007....

I am planning to make all of my publications in ACS journals AuthorChoice —It's a no-brainer. If my papers are downloaded more, they will be read more and will be cited more....Frankly, the cost of publishing an article as ACS AuthorChoice is a real bargain and a good reason to join the ACS. One-thousand dollars is trivial as compared to the cost of conducting the research that we are reporting....Because ACS doesn't charge an author ANYTHING to publish in its journals, the ACS AuthorChoice charge is all one has to pay, and one can forget about reprints. That is a deal that is hard to beat.

There is another subtle point about ACS AuthorChoice of which authors need to be aware. Designating an article ACS AuthorChoice means that it is freely downloadable as soon as it is mounted on the web, and with ASAP publishing, this is often several weeks before the print version appears....This suggests that the ACS AuthorChoice model may provide higher “impact value” for authors than the delayed free access that other societies offer. So, I congratulate ACS Publications for listening to its editors and authors and for formulating a realistic policy to Open Access that accomplishes the most fundamental goal of journal publishing —getting articles read!

Comment.  This is the most enthusiastic defense of ACS Author Choice --the ACS hybrid OA journal program-- that I've seen.  See my less enthusiastic review in SOAN for April 2007.  Despite the limitations of Author Choice, however, Marnett is right that OA boosts author impact, which is the best reason for authors to arrange for OA to their work.