#openaccess: American Chemical Society charge additional 1000 USD for Creative Commons Licences

From the start of this month all RCUK-funded researchers will have to publish “Open Access”. Exactly what this means has been the subject of a messy set of polemics. But on the assumption that authors wish to publish under a CC-BY licence (effectively the only one compliant the with BOAI declaration – free to copy, use, re-use and redistribute) then are they able to?

I’ve taken a prominent journal – Journal of the American Chemical Society – in which I have previously published. Can I publish “Open Access” and comply with the RCUK requirements?

There’s a useful tool http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/fact/

Many publishers have been extremely poor at providing simple information for readers and authors. Often you have to chase round the buttons on the site (avoiding the (self-)advertising). Sometimes I get the impression that the publishers aren’t really trying to be helpful. Ross Mounce has done a great job on trying to winkle out licence and prices info and SHERPA have now done much of the grunt work in providing the right button to click. systematize this as well. So I can go straight to the key info:

What’s “Author Choice”? It’s ACS-specific and it’s some form of “Open Access” (according to the ACS). Many of these publisher-specific labels ( (Author|Reader|Free|Open)(Access|Choice|Article) have fuzzy words and fuzzy conditions.

But we have Creative Commons (and without CC we would be in an awful mess). CC provide a range of licences. ONLY CC-BY (CC0, and possibly CC-BY-SA) fit the BOAI definition of open access. Only CC-BY allows copying, re-use and redistribution.

Which, simply, is what Science is about.

Any restriction of access or re-use is anti-scientific.

It may be good business, but it harms science.

So it is possible to use a CC-BY licence when publishing with the ACS. But ONLY by paying an extra 1000 USD.

Does it COST this much to add a CC-BY licence?

Of course not. It shouldn’t cost anything (it’s a standard 50 characters on a page and a hyperlink).

It’s effectively a ransom from the publisher to raise extra revenue. The publishers can make up any set of charges they like. And the authors will either pay it or hide their publication behind an embargo-wall (say for 1-2 years).

Is this good for science? Of course not. It makes it harder to detect bad science. Humans and machines can validate or invalidate science if they are allowed to read the full text.

Very few publishers have earned respect during the evolution of Open Access. Most have been seen to value commerce above other considerations. There is no price pressure on OA.

And many “open access advocates” have actually welcomed non-CC-BY and embargoed green OA – which has led us to these huge APCs for BOAI Open Access.

To fight this we need strength from the funders and unanimity of purpose.

And we have this and it’s the primary redeeming feature in Open Access.

We need tools for uniform practice – what does a publisher offer? And we are getting them (kudos in UK to JISC, SHERPA, and Ross) and they are cutting through the fuzz.

We need tools for measuring author compliance. Because many authors simply don’t care about the funders requirements and will still publish in a completely closed manner so as to advance their careers and funding prospects. And we are getting them.

The organizations that have let us down are the Universities and their libraries. They don’t really care. They could have fought this battle 10 years ago instead of waiting for the funders to do it. They accept whatever prices the publishers charge for OA APCs and route tax-payer money or student fees to the publishers…

But that’s another blog post. Soon…

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4 Responses to #openaccess: American Chemical Society charge additional 1000 USD for Creative Commons Licences

  1. WRT institutions and their libraries “letting us down”: I think that would be a misplaced and, indeed counterproductive blame. Talk to your librarian and ask them what they heard whenever they asked the faculty which journals to cut as budgets tightened? All they ever heard was complaints. Librarians are accustomed to being service people, to provide the faculty with the best access, not revolutionaries.
    If there is any blame to go around, it’s on us, the faculty: we shouldn’t pretend we didn’t know subscription prices, because we did. We knew for at least a decade, many for much longer, about the serial crisis and what would have to be done about it – after all, PLoS wasn’t funded by librarians, despite the name.
    We got ourselves in this mess and we should be the ones getting ourselves out of it again: we, the faculty and their institutions! Not funders, not politicians, not anybody else. It irks me to no end when individuals knowingly get themselves into a predicament and then lament how others ought to have told them or ought to have helped them or at least ought to get them out of their predicament right now. We got ourselves into this mess, why would anybody but ourselves be obliged to get us out of there again?

    • pm286 says:

      We all have a collective responsibility, just as we have a responsibility for global warming or exploitation. But Libraries have a duty to be pro-active in helping make decisions , or they have no role.
      I shall blog this soon.

  2. Barbara Fister says:

    Librarians don’t care? Seriously? We can be proactive as all hell (and many of us have been) but if the authors consistently donate their work to corporations and societies that act like corporations, what are we supposed to do? Say “we’re giving our budgets back so that we won’t be tempted to buy that information you insist you need.”

  3. Steve Pettifer says:

    A minor correction/clarification…
    “Only CC-BY allows copying, re-use and redistribution.” Of course CC0 is even more liberal than CC-BY and also allows copying, re-use and redistribution (in many ways it would be less hassle for text/data-mining than dealing with the attribution required by CC-BY). CC-BY-SA does too I suppose, though the additional ‘viral’ share-alike clause makes it perhaps less attractive for OA.

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