Open Access in Chemical Sciences

Written by: Tina Qin

Primary Source: Digital Scholarship Collaborative Sandbox

As the Open Access movement began in the 1990s, many established publishers have gradually adopted this publishing model, disseminating high-quality research to as wide of an audience as possible. Scientific publishing has been one of drivers in the field of open access. While there are continuing debates on the best practice of open access research, the experiment is well underway.

Policies around the world such as the Budapest (2002), Berlin (2003) and Bethesda (2003) Statements have been developed to support implementation of Open Access. Funding agencies require open access to the results of the research, as well as the educating of researchers on open access. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation (NSF) Public Access Policies exist to accelerate the scientific research and encourage citizens to become scientifically literate. OSTP (Office of Science and Technology Policy) issued the memorandum Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research in February 2013. Specifically the memo made clear statements regarding scientific data, saying that “digitally formatted scientific data resulting from unclassified research supported wholly or in part by Federal funding should be stored and publicly accessible to search, retrieve, and analyze.” Chemistry researchers required by federal funds will detail how and where they make their research data available in data management plans as the first step for increasing access to valuable research data. Departments and agencies are taking further actions to develop a federated system of databases that allow storing, discovering and reusing data and providing data services.

For chemistry research, open access, also called open science, is still cutting-edge among traditional chemistry publishers, who struggle to pave the way as credibility and business models. Since 1998 Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) called for alternative and less costly journals, the launch of PubChem (2004), Chemistry Central (2006) and ChemSpider (2007) had marked a new accessibility in chemistry publications. Recently the major chemistry publishers have started and expended their open access options. Since 2013, the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) has announced the “Gold for Gold” program to provide vouchers to authors, allowing them to publish their RSC articles open access without paying the standard article publication fee. The American Chemical Society (ACS) Publications announced new and expanded open access publishing options last year. There are four main components to the ACS open access program:

ACS Central Science” is a peer-reviewed journal launched in 2015. It will publish 100-200 articles annually across the chemistry sciences, free to both readers and authors.

ACS Editors’ Choice” has ACS editors selecting one newly published and peer-reviewed article each day that highlights work of public interest. These articles will be free access at

ACS Author Rewards” is a program to reward each corresponding author of every article published in 2014 with publishing credits for a total value of $1500 per publication.

ACS AuthorChoice” launched years ago as an author’s pay model (AuthorChoice), now has expended so that authors can choose immediate or 12-month embargoed open access (AuthorChoice+12). Authors can choose from three licenses Standard ACS AuthorChoice license or Creative Commons licenses.

In chemical scientific research, there is an ongoing search for a scalable and sustainable approach to open access publishing and archiving. Having had success in medical and physical sciences, the benefits for authors and institutions makes open access a feasible and effective publishing model for chemical sciences.

Tina Qin

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Tina Qin
Tina Qin is the Chemistry Librarian at MSU Libraries, where she manages the chemistry collection, leads information literacy sessions in the sciences, supports science data management and works at the reference desk. She began this professional position in August 2013 after completing a Master of Library Science degree with a chemical information specialization from Indiana University in July, 2013. Her undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering is from Dalian University of Technology in Dalian, P.R. China. She also holds a MS degree in Paper and Chemical Engineering from Miami University, Oxford OH