Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, September 26, 2008

ACS will accommodate more funder OA mandates, for a fee

Fred Campbell, ACS open access agreement, Chemistry World, September 2008.  Excerpt:

The American Chemical Society (ACS) is expected shortly to finalise an agreement under which, for a fee, it will deposit published articles into open access repositories, such as PubMed Central, and allow their content to be text-mined, hyperlinked, copied and redistributed, for non-commercial research and education purposes.

The altered model would have direct consequences for researchers funded by the UK funding bodies, the Medical Research Council (MRC) and Wellcome Trust, who require that all manuscripts be deposited into open access repositories but are currently advising authors to avoid publishing with the ACS....

Researchers funded by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) were recently granted a policy change, whereby the ACS would deposit the article on the author's behalf under the AuthorChoice [hybrid OA journal] system; this will now be extended to non-NIH authors.

Also in the current system, the licence that accompanies the articles restricts any further hyperlinking or text-mining of the deposited manuscript; the new licence will lift those limitations. An improved agreement would likely end the UK funding bodies' recommended boycott.


  • This is a not a step forward, but merely glissade from one bad policy to another.  NIH-funded researchers who publish in ACS journals must pay ACS in order to comply with their prior, independent funding contracts.  Now ACS will offer the same "benefit" to researchers funded by the MRC and Wellcome Trust. 
  • For background see my article from April 2007, Paying for green open access.
  • The NIH, MRC, and Wellcome Trust use a strong form of OA mandate.  Instead of letting authors opt out when they want to publish with a recalcitrant publisher, like the ACS, they require authors to look for another publisher.  That's the sense in which these funding agencies have been "boycotting" or "advising authors to avoid publishing with the ACS", although it's more fair to say that the ACS has been boycotting authors funded by those agencies.  Under its new policy, the ACS will no longer exclude them, but merely charge them.  I like the evidence that even the large, wealthy, and very recalcitrant ACS can't continue its boycott of researchers funded by these important agencies.  But researchers shouldn't have to pay any publisher to comply with their own funding contracts, and shouldn't have to pay for gold OA if they only want green OA.  Researchers funded by NIH, MRC, or the WT should save their money and continue to steer clear of ACS journals.

Update and correction (9/27/08).  The ACS currently offers NIH-funded authors three options, one of which requires no fee and no ACS membership.  The problem it is trying to fix with its forthcoming revision is to make the fee-based AuthorChoice option compatible with the requirements of the Wellcome Trust and MRC.  Those funders will pay fees on behalf of authors, but only for publishers who go beyond gratis to libre OA.  If the ACS does start to offer libre OA for its AuthorChoice fees, that would be a step forward, especially if it continues to offer a no-fee option for NIH-funded authors.