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ACS Open Access and Permissions

Use of ACS AuthorChoice licensed content

The number of articles being published in ACS journals using an AuthorChoice Open Access option is increasing steadily, and authors might have questions about using text portions or figures/tables from such articles.

As a general rule, the terms of use (and any restrictions) will be set out in the online license reference that will be attached to the online version of the article (the “public use license”). With respect to the re-use of their own previously published ACS articles, such re-uses are generally covered elsewhere in these FAQs and in the ACS posting policy with greater specificity, but of course the uses discussed below are also acceptable.

ACS AuthorChoice Licenses

Authors can select from one of two public use licenses when publishing in the ACS AuthorChoice OA program:

  • Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND public use license – Permits non-commercial access & re-use, provided that author attribution and integrity are maintained; but does not permit creation of adaptations or other derivative works. Read more about this license on the Creative Commons website.
  • Creative Commons CC-BY public use license – Permits the broadest form of re-use including for commercial purposes, provided that author attribution and integrity are maintained. Read more about this license on the Creative Commons website.

Requirements of use of content

Comprehensive guidelines for the ACS AuthorChoice licenses can be found at the links noted above and you should review those licenses. As a general rule, if you are using the content for the purpose of illustrating a development in the field or to support or contrast with a point you are making in the preparation of a research article, the use of short texts or a limited number of figures will be permissible and will not require a request for permission (in other words, such uses will be granted automatically).

The most important requirements or restrictions for both of these public use licenses will be attribution—which you can comply with by identifying the author(s) of the quoted article, although it may also be good practice to identify the article title and journal.

The other requirement is to maintain the integrity of the quoted work—in other words not to use the excerpt in such a way as to imply a conclusion or result opposite or substantially different from the conclusion or result noted in the quoted work, or to imply an endorsement of some kind. While the re-use in an ACS journal article of a large amount of content posted under a CC BY or CC BY-NC-ND public use license would likely be permitted by the terms of those licenses (provided the obligations noted herein are complied with), authors should be mindful of their obligations not to engage in redundant publication as outlined in the ACS Ethical Guidelines to Publication of Chemical Research and the ACS journal Author Guidelines. Using small text excerpts or individual figures for proper referencing of earlier works would be more appropriate under those Guidelines.

The CC BY-NC-ND public use license has two other elements—the non-commercial requirement and derivative use prohibition. The non-commercial element is understood to mean use without a commercial advantage or monetary compensation—which would most likely not be viewed as relevant to the preparation and publication of a scientific article. Publishing such an article in an ACS journal, given that ACS is itself a non-profit scientific society, would not be viewed generally as use for “commercial advantage” or “private monetary compensation”, and thus this should not be an issue. With respect to the derivate use, the use of short quotes or individual figures in a subsequent article would not be viewed legally as the creation of a derivative work, which is generally viewed as something like an adaptation (think of a movie adaptation of a novel) or a translation. Again, this would not be relevant to the inclusion of excerpts or figures as described herein in connection with the preparation and publication of subsequent journal articles.

There are previous ACS journal articles published using a public use license different from the two Creative Commons licenses noted above, the ACS AuthorChoice bespoke public use license. However, using such content would be similar to the issues described above for the CC BY-NC-ND license, except that the AuthorChoice license also permits the creation of non-commercial derivative works.