Joint Board-Council Committee on Publications

The open session of the ACS Joint Board-Council Committee on Publications (JBCCP) is usually scheduled on Friday afternoon before the national meeting commences and is open to any society members. Brian Crawford, President of the ACS Publications Division, presented an update to the ACS Joint Board-Council Committee on Publications and the ACS membership. Slides are posted here. Leah McEwen, Committee Member and CINF Secretary, provides the summary below. Questions may be directed to the Committee Chair, Ned D. Heindel, email:

Highlights from the ACS Publications Division operations included the following:

  • Several new journal publications on track for 2012-2014 and Editor-in-Chief search committees are underway for several key journal titles.
  • Maureen Rouhi has been promoted to the Editor-in-Chief of C&EN. Former C&EN Editor-in-Chief Rudy Baum retired on September 14. A symposium in his honor was held at the Fall Meeting
  • Web article requests are up 7% on an YTD basis; ACS articles have been downloaded over 40 million times at the mid-year point. The increased member access benefits are so far a success. 
  • New technical development efforts are focused on web and mobile product innovations, CAS collaborations, and infrastructure enhancements. 
  • The ACS Publications Division is focusing outreach to graduate students and post docs through the ACS on Campus program and its Graduate/PostDoc Summer Institute.
  • The Division’s expanded presence in China includes the hiring of CINF member Norah Xiao to the Editorial Development team in the newly-created position of Manager, Editorial Development (Asia). Xiao will pursue new publishing opportunities in Asia, as well as the strategic development of an expanded cadre of expert scientists to serve as trained peer reviewers and candidate editorial advisory board members and Associate Editors for ACS journals. The division is also planning expanded customer and user help capabilities for Asia.

A strategic assessment of the ACS Publications Division and CAS was recently conducted by the ACS Board. It indicated robust operating performance on mission and financial fronts, and encouraged increased collaboration between the two publishing arms and with the technical divisions. ACS Publications is also monitoring open access (OA) initiatives in the US and beyond, and engaging in outreach and advocacy. The ACS Governing Board approved a pilot project to explore a cross-publisher content linking initiative with the Department of Energy as alternative to government-mandated centralized deposit. Alternative business models regarding ACS journals and open access will also be evaluated.

Crawford presented some background on the OA landscape in publishing from the ACS Publications Division perspective. The two primary forms of OA are “Green” where the authors are able to self-archive a version of their published articles in an institutional repository, and “Gold” where the journals themselves are OA. Many society publishers support Green OA and some have been experimenting with Gold. Many commercial publishers also offer Gold OA journals. 6,000 journals were surveyed in 2010, and 25% offer some form of OA, predominately in some hybrid form (89%). There are very few established OA publishers. Springer now has an OA publishing arm. There are many new OA entrants: 2.6 new journals launched each day; over 7,000 available, but very few are proving to be successful. eLife ( is a new joint initiative between the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Max Planck Society, and the Wellcome Trust. ACS Publications is concerned that it will be difficult for the public to distinguish “wheat from chaff,” and JBCCP plays a crucial role through membership involvement to keep the ACS reputation high as a purveyor of quality information.

The political climate is currently in a perfect storm around OA: the Research Works Act backlash, the failure of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect against Internet Piracy Act (PIPA), the reintroduction of the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA), a pending report from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), a petition to the White House and Obama administration for response, institutional mandates and faculty engagement, and the recent Finch Report in the UK. The Finch report recommends a policy direction for research publishing in Europe towards more OA and hybrid journals through article publishing charges. A survey of the publishing industry conducted by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) in 2010 indicating the vast majority of revenues comes from paid circulation to institutions suggests the cultural magnitude of such a shift. ACS authors are roughly divided in thirds between the United States, Europe and Asia (East Asia & Pacific) with the remaining 10% distributed across the rest of the Western & Eastern Hemispheres. OA developments worldwide impact not only the publishers in regions creating publishing policies, but also authors who publish across international boundaries.

ACS Publications is monitoring these developments to consider policies that funding bodies should advocate, and emerging balanced and sustainable approaches to cultural change through close contact, dialogue, and thorough and reasoned study. JBCCP and all ACS members are encouraged to read the report: Currently on the OA front, the ACS offers: ACS articles on Request, ACS Author Choice (minimal uptake <1%), updated Journals Publishing Agreement, facilitation of NIH Public Access Policy, custom licensing agreements with the Wellcome Trust and other funding agencies, society position statement and advocacy regarding unfunded public mandates and trade association engagement.

Question from the floor: The NSF requirement for data management plans is another unfunded mandate. Is ACS Publications taking any action?

Crawford: Data can be divided broadly into two groups – the first is the raw output of the research process and the second is that which is published along with journal articles. A task force of ACS editors is investigating a possible role for the Society regarding data management support for investigators. This group is also coordinating with CAS. The Association of American Publishers (AAP) is in the process of reviewing potential intellectual property issues associated with published and processed data and it is generally recommended that researcher-validated primary data be made openly available. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is also considering issues around the public availability of published and primary data.

Suggestions from the floor: ACS Publications should ask authors to supply links to their primary data. Thomson Reuters is planning to launch the Data Citation Index later this year (see:

Leah McEwen, Member, Joint Board Council Committee on Publications