At ACS Publications, we strive to create an inclusive experience for all of our author, reader, and review communities by advocating and celebrating an environment that promotes and celebrates diversity, inclusion, and respect. As we celebrate Pride Month 2021, we’d like to share the changes ACS is making to provide a more inclusive experience for our writers and reflect on how our initiatives are impacting the entire scientific communication sector.

In September 2020, ACS announced a new trans-inclusive policy that will allow authors to change the names of their previously published articles. This policy was developed with the needs of the transgender academic community in mind and with the generous support of several members of that community. In the nine months that the policy has been in place, we have received requests to update over 200 publications from more than 30 authors, some of which articles are decades old.

According to ACS guidelines, an author who requests a name change for any reason will be treated with confidentiality and respect. The author will not be asked to provide evidence or documentation of his name change, and a name change will not be treated as a correction of his contribution. As a result, the change will not be brought to the attention of any co-authors and no public notice will be added to the paper. The ACS policy also ensures that all other references to the author’s identity, including pronouns, salutations, captions, and other elements of the article, are updated accordingly. ACS was the first chemical publisher to adopt this policy and has shared its implementation experience with other publishers to encourage them to adopt similar policies.

Following the example of ACS Publications, other academic publishers have announced or publicly acknowledged similar guidelines that they are working on similar guidelines. The impact went well beyond chemistry, as two working groups of the National Information Standards Organization and the Committee on Publication Ethics have been formed to address similar issues.

ACS recently joined the Coalition for Diversity & Inclusion in Scholarly Communications (C4DISC) as a Gold Partner. Jointly hosted by the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP) and the Association of University Presss (AUP), C4DISC was created to provide a place to discuss and address issues of diversity, equality and inclusion in the academic communications industry. C4DISC has an active working group focused on inclusive language and image guidelines that we would like to participate in as we work to create a more inclusive community across the publishing industry.

ACS Publications continues to work on a more positive and gender equitable experience for writers at all stages of their publishing journey. We are currently in the process of removing gender badges from ACS Paragon Plus account profiles and gender pronouns in magazine correspondence and replacing them with gender neutral language. New authors and reviewers can choose from an updated list of gender-neutral titles.

How can ACS Publications further improve inclusivity in academic publishing? Share your thoughts using our feedback form or in the comments below.


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