On 21 September, the Publications Division of the American Chemical Society (ACS) announced a new twist on the article processing charge (APC) model of funding open-access publishing. Their new program involves what they call an article development charge (ADC), which is designed to “provide authors a new option to satisfy funder requirements for zero-embargo green open access.” Sarah Tegen, PhD, Chief Publishing Officer of ACS Publications, agreed to respond to a few questions about this new program.
ACS believes that “more than 90%” of the authors it publishes “have a simple and funded pathway to publish gold OA (OA) in ACS journals.” I’m curious about how you arrived at that statistic – was it via an author survey? Can you tell us more about how you gathered that data?
ACS has invested significantly in technology and processes to determine an author’s institutional affiliation and funder identity. We cross match this information to our database of ACS-negotiated read and publish agreements and funder access requirements. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of authors who are subject to an OA mandate have a funded solution through an institutional read and publish agreement, and one-fifth (21%) through OA funding support.
How exactly does payment of the ADC work? At what point in the process is the charge imposed?
Funders who require researchers to immediately post the accepted manuscript usually recommend that standard language (often referred to as rights retention strategy or RRS) is included either in the manuscript or cover letter. If this documentation is included with the manuscript when it is submitted to an ACS journal, our team will reach out to the author and provide four clear paths to OA, with the zero-embargo green OA process as an option. Payment of the ADC will be requested once the submitted manuscript is sent for external peer review and will be due prior to the completion of the peer review.
Will the author have the option of withdrawing at this point, if s/he doesn’t have funds to cover the ADC? Or does the author commit to the ADC payment before the manuscript is sent out for review?
We expect a very small number of authors to elect the ADC — in the range of about 200 per year out of 200,000 annual manuscript submissions. If an author cannot pay the ADC, they can continue on their publishing journey, but they will need to wait to post their accepted manuscript for 12 months.
Is the ADC the same amount as the APC paid by funded authors? If not, how is the difference calculated?
The ADC is a flat fee of $2,500 for our hybrid journals, and it covers the costs associated with the many publishing services provided from submission to final editorial decision. This includes organizing, maintaining, and investing in the high-quality scholarly peer review process and multiple other services provided by an expansive global network of editors and reviewers. These costs are significant, comprising more than 50% of the overall cost of publishing the final version of record.
Unlike an article publishing charge (APC), the ADC does not cover expenses related to final production, digital distribution, discovery, and hosting of the version of record or maintaining post-publication updates. For those authors who later decide to publish fully OA, the amount of the ADC will be deducted from the cost of the gold APC. Authors will not pay more than the APC required for gold OA. ADC waivers or discounts will be automatically applied to papers from corresponding authors from all countries that currently receive special country pricing for APCs.
Is ACS’s APC also a flat fee, or does it vary by journal? (And if the latter, what is the range of APC prices?)
The APC for our hybrid journals is $4,500, with discounts for ACS members and authors from countries that currently receive special country pricing.
To ask what is such an obvious question that it might be stupid: how does an unfunded author (who therefore presumably can’t afford an APC) benefit from being charged an ADC instead?
Assisting authors to get published is our North Star, and we’re introducing this ADC option to help authors navigate shifting funder mandates. Funders, institutions, and publishers agree there is a real cost to scholarly publishing, and choosing an OA option is entirely voluntary. The ADC ensures the long-term integrity and quality of content published in ACS journals. We also provide cost-free pathways to publish for all authors.
Through the read and publish agreements we have with thousands of institutions worldwide, we have shielded authors from the costs of meeting funder requirements for gold OA. These enable authors to post the final version of record to repositories immediately after publication. ACS Publications already allows those authors who cannot publish via the gold OA route to post the accepted manuscript to a repository 12 months after publication at no cost. Authors may also choose to publish through subscription access journals at no cost to them.
For authors not covered by a read and publish agreement or another pathway, our zero-embargo green OA pathway will provide an additional option to immediately share the accepted manuscript while offsetting the costs incurred to ensure the quality, value, and integrity of the research during the publishing process.