The ACS Style Guide has always been a classic manual for scientific publications. But in 2020 it was revised and expanded as ACS Guide to Scientific Communication.The ACS Guide to Scientific Communication Not only does it provide professional advice to students, researchers, educators, and librarians, but it also helps researchers at different stages of their careers respond to the evolving world of publishing.

These ACS Axial Series contains excerpts from the ACS Guide to Scientific Communication. Portions of the original text are available free of charge for a limited time under an ACS Free to Read license. Certain sections are given at the end of each post.

Open sharing is the latest movement in academic communication aimed at promoting more transparent, reproducible and collaborative research practices in the digital age Open Science by Design: Realizing a Vision for Research in the 21st Century, published by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine in 2018, summarizes the goals of open science: “To ensure the free availability and usability of scientific publications, the data resulting from scientific research, and the methods, including any code or algorithms that were used to generate this data. “

To enable open science, many actors in scientific communication, including researchers, libraries, information service organizations, publishers, funders, and universities / research institutions, need to coordinate their efforts. All those involved are motivated to ensure the sustainable development of open science with adequate protection of intellectual property. However, these stakeholders have different priorities.

Scientific communication stakeholders and their priorities driving open science development.

Via open access

Open access publications are most commonly defined as research publications that are freely available to all readers, as opposed to the traditional “toll access model” where readers pay to access. Between 2002 and 2003, the principles of Open Access were formalized in three influential forums: the Budapest Open Access Initiative, the Bethesda Declaration on Open Access Publishing and the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in Science. Open Access generally requires published work in order to:

  1. Be freely accessible online without any technical barrier
  2. Include licensed reuse by humans and machines (ie computer software and algorithms)
  3. Be free from most copyright and license restrictions, except that the authors maintain control over the integrity of their work and the right to proper citation

Biomedical research is the discipline in which by far the most open articles are published, in large part because the subject’s main funding agency needs open access articles. Chemistry as a discipline has the lowest percentage of articles labeled Open Access.

Further information on Open Science and attitudes towards Open Access in various disciplines can be found in Section 1.5.1 of the ACS Guide to Scientific Communication.

Advantages and challenges of open access

Some advantages of publishing Open Access for research purposes are:

  1. Gain: Open access articles are by definition more accessible to a wider audience. There is an undeniable gain in readership.
  2. To keep: With traditional publishing models, chemists either transfer their copyrights to publishers or license exclusive publishing rights to their content. When publishing Open Access, researchers may have the option to retain some rights or remain the owner of the copyright.
  3. Obey: Research in chemistry and related fields is often funded by a wide variety of organizations. Many funders have mandated the public exchange of articles and data for research they funded, and those mandates have become a major driver for other stakeholders, particularly publishers and funded researchers, to accelerate their pace towards openness.
  4. Influence: Researchers can directly influence how scientific communication develops, both as creators and consumers of research articles, data and information.
  5. Improve: The open access movement is helping to change the way research is rated and rated. Unlocking different types of research and related metadata is the first step towards better metrics and impact assessments.
  6. Activate: With the open access movement, researchers in the “global south” (in Africa, South America and Asia) now have better access to research.

Some of the challenges in Open Access Publishing are:

  1. Authors may want or may be pressured to publish in certain journals that are considered to be useful in advancing their careers. However, these journals may not offer open access options or only offer expensive open access options.
  2. For authors, covering the cost of publishing Open Access can represent an additional financial burden.
  3. Managing open research and publishing workflows requires additional resources, infrastructure, and time.
  4. Readers can also be challenged by so-called predatory journals – inferior, fully open access journals that do not conform to recognized norms such as peer review or guidelines of the Publication Ethics Committee, or are not indexed in the directory of open access journals.
  5. The challenge for publishers is to create a new and sustainable business model that supports open access while maintaining the quality of peer review, publishing and value-added services to the research communities.
  6. Funders work on resource and policy environments that provide sufficient incentives, guidance, and support to researchers.
  7. Libraries, universities and research institutions need to harmonize complex resources, infrastructures, practices and cultural change so that their researchers can focus on the research itself.

Further information on the advantages and challenges of Open Access can be found in Section 1.5.2 of the ACS Guide to Scientific Communication.

Different types of open access

Magazines that offer open access options have adopted various business models that are broken down into green, gold, platinum, bronze, diamond, and hybrid models. They are summarized in the following table. These business models vary based on the APC fee paid for the APC, the schedule for openness, and the licenses available. Hybrid models are used by publishers who offer open access options for green, gold, platinum, and diamond alongside traditional pay-to-read articles.

Explore the different OA publishing options

Different open access business models

For more information on different types of Open Access, see section 1.5.3 of the ACS Guide to Academic Communication.

License options

Authors can choose from various open access licenses for their article and specify how readers and machines can reuse the work. The following table lists different types of open licenses that are used in publishing Open Access and what these different licenses allow end users to do. Among these, Creative Commons (CC) licenses are often used for Open Access.

Openness spectrum for authors, machines and readers. Reprinted from SPARC *. Licensed under CC BY.

Authors can choose a license when publishing Open Access based on the options offered by their publisher. The APCs for selecting different licenses also vary between different magazines. License type settings may vary by subdiscipline, geographic region, or funder. Creative Commons, an international not-for-profit organization, facilitates interoperability by maintaining standard terms with legal and technological consistency. Authors should choose carefully, as the license can often not be changed.

Further information on Open Science and attitudes towards Open Access in various disciplines can be found in Section 1.5.4 of the ACS Guide to Scientific Communication.

How to evaluate open access journals and licenses

As mentioned earlier, when publishing Open Access, authors need to think about different aspects. Consider the following:

  • Who are the authors?
  • How does the release schedule affect your research or career plans?
  • When does the research need to be disseminated? How competitive is the research area?
  • How is the research financed and which institutions are involved?
  • Are there open access or open science mandates?
  • How do the authors intend to use this work in the future (e.g. for tenure doctorates, patents, teaching materials)?
  • What are the community standards for research?
  • Is it appropriate to wait for the embargo period to expire?
  • What does it cost and how are the APCs paid for?
  • What is the target journal?

Further information on the selection of Open Access journals and a better understanding of Open Access can be found in Section 1.5.5 and Section 1.5.6 of the ACS Guide to Scientific Communication.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here