Why ACS Publishes Fully Open Access Journals

Published September 28, 2020

The publishing industry is adapting its open access options to support the research community’s needs in the face of shifting funder requirements. In particular, as funders adopt new or revised open access mandates, researchers are finding that grants come with stipulations of how and where they should publish their results. ACS is dedicated to meeting the needs of the global chemistry community and the needs of our authors and readers. To support authors in meeting their individual funder requirements, ACS has introduced fully open access journals, including JACS Au and our forthcoming ACS Au suite of titles. These journals will complement our existing fully open access titles, ACS Central Science and ACS Omega, and will offer authors more options on where to publish their research.

More and more funding bodies require grant recipients to publish their results in fully open access journals, also known as “gold open access journals.” The diverse group of funding entities enacting this requirement includes government institutions, such as the Austrian Science Fund and European Commission, some public funders in the United States, and private funders like the Wellcome Trust and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

This requirement in particular has far-reaching implications; a single corresponding author or co-author funded by one of these entities would mean that the paper must be published in a gold open access journal. Many researchers have voiced their surprise at the fact that they must meet another researcher’s funder open access requirements or face potential consequences in future grant requests. In addition, many funders will not permit publication in a “hybrid” journal (a primarily subscription journal in which some of the articles are available open access), except if those journals are part of a transformative “read and publish” agreement. We estimate that by 2025, a significant number of ACS authors will face funder mandates to publish in gold open access journals. This growing demand necessitates an expanded portfolio of journals that provides all researchers with a suitable publishing outlet.

While publishers do not play a part in setting funders’ requirements, they are adapting operations to ensure that authors have a wide range of journals in which to publish their research. Open access journals play a part in accomplishing this goal, and they serve ACS’s broader mission of advancing solutions to the world’s most urgent problems through the dissemination of scientific advances: our open access journals are completely free to read by anyone, anywhere in the world.

As a part of our commitment to diversity and equity in the sciences, it is important that researchers across the globe are able to be part of our author communities. All of our open access journals will offer substantially discounted article publishing charges (APC) for researchers from over 80 countries. Our APCs enable us to subsidize charges for scientists in these countries.

The APCs for our open access journals are in line with other top-tier science publishers, and vary between our open access titles. To meet the requirements of our researchers’ funders, our APCs allow for immediate open access once an article is published, thus supporting our ability to make our open access journals free to read globally. Funders recognize that publishing open access requires resources, and they increasingly provide dedicated funds for grant recipients to use to pay APCs. As this process is still relatively new, it is still unclear as to how those funds may be distributed within any individual institution. Researchers can work with their universities to ensure that funds designated for open access publishing are reserved for that purpose.

ACS is dedicated to meeting our researchers’ needs in this rapidly changing environment. Our new gold open access journals will give our authors an outlet to publish their research in a way that meets funder mandates. We’re pioneering agreements with universities that include APC support, and we’re exploring new methods to subsidize the publication costs of scientists around the world. ACS will continue to adapt to meet the needs of our authors, readers, and the international chemistry community, and to find new and innovative ways to propel science forward.

If you have questions about our open access journals and policies, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us by emailing support@services.acs.org.

To learn more about ACS and open science, visit our Axial blog.