ACS Publications Division: Highlights of 2014

ACS Publications manages the scholarly publishing program of the world’s largest scientific society.  More than 41,000 articles authored by research teams globally are selected annually for publication within the 47 peer-reviewed journals from ACS Publications. Noted for their high quality, rapid time to publication, high immediacy and impact, as well as prevalent citation in future research, ACS journals are available in online, mobile and print formats worldwide. ACS Publications also publishes Chemical & Engineering News, the Society’s flagship news periodical covering the global chemical enterprise and related sciences. The highlights of the 2014 accomplishments are as follows.

ACS Publications advanced the Society’s mission through the publication of new peer-reviewed journals

The Publications Division completed the successful first full calendar year of publication of

  • ACS Photonics
  • Environmental Science & Technology Letters

In addition, the Division embarked upon the early editorial and marketing introduction of two new journals prior to their scheduled commercial availability in 2015: ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering and ACS Infectious Diseases. These two new titles represent an expansion into potential new markets within materials science and biology/biomedicine, respectively. ACS continues to evolve and serve expanding markets covering a broader array of topics.

Key journals were strengthened through editorial succession

Six leading scientists were selected by separate Editor Search committees convened in accordance with the ACS Bylaws, confirmed by the Board of Directors and contracted by ACS Publications management, for editorial terms commencing with the 2015 publishing year:  

  • Dr. Paul Chirik (Princeton University) - Organometallics
  • Dr. Sharon Hammes-Schiffer (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) - Chemical Reviews
  • Dr. Thomas F. Hofmann (Technical University of Munich) - Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
  • Dr. Kai Rossen (Sanofi) - Organic Process Research & Development
  • Dr. David L. Sedlak (University of California, Berkeley) - Environmental Science & Technology and Environmental Science & Technology Letters
  • Dr. Françoise M. Winnik (Université de Montréal) - Langmuir

Additionally, three inaugural editors were appointed to lead the Society’s newest journals, following recommendations of the Editor Search committees and approval by the Board of Directors:

  • Dr. Courtney Aldrich (University of Minnesota) - ACS Infectious Diseases
  • Dr. Caroline Bertozzi (University of California, Berkeley) - ACS Central Science
  • Dr. David L. Kaplan (Tufts University) - ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering


ACS Publications again recognized for publishing excellence

In February of 2014, ACS Publications was honored with two prestigious PROSE Awards from the Association of American Publishers’ Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division

  • ACS Synthetic Biology was recognized with the AAP PROSE Award for Best New Journal
  • ACS ChemWorx received the PROSE Award for Best New App/e-Product.

(The annual PROSE Awards celebrate the best in professional and scholarly publishing, including books, journals, and electronic content in over 40 categories, judged by peer publishers, librarians, and medical professionals.)

ACS journals continued to grow in published content and to improve in time-to-publication

Journal Production and Manufacturing Operations (JPMO) in Columbus published a total of 41,062 articles in issues across the ACS journals portfolio, for published output 5% greater than that achieved in 2013 (2013 output: 39,151 published articles). JPMO also accomplished a 20% improvement in the time to publication (from editorial acceptance to ASAP posting online) in 2014 vs. 2013; an average of 11.8 weeks in 2014 vs. 14.7 weeks in 2013.

ACS Publications expanded editorial capacity to support peer review

In collaboration with Editorial Development team members, Global Editorial & Author Services staff managed the Editor-in-Chief transitions for six existing ACS journals and on brought on board the Editors-in-Chief and editorial teams for three new journals. Global Editorial & Author Services also oversaw the addition of 75 new editors, including nine Editors-in-Chief, across the ACS journals portfolio, for a net increase of 49 new editors contracted during the year. These editor appointments are reflective of the global nature of the chemical research enterprise, with 36% of the new appointees residing outside North America. The addition of these editorial decision-making resources expands the Division’s capacity to oversee the peer review of the now more than 120,000 manuscript submissions received annually, reflecting growth of nearly 9% in author demand year over year.

Global Editorial and Author Services achieved operational efficiencies and expanded cost-containment initiatives across our global editorial operations

Global Editorial and Author Services began systematic deployment of ACS Managed Support: the provision of expert, cost-efficient, scalable administrative support of peer review. With the participation of an ACS Managed Support taskforce composed of a representative subset of ACS Editors, a transition plan to move existing Associate Editors with locally-based, university-employed editorial assistants to ACS Managed Support vendor personnel was developed, communicated, and executed. During the course of 2014 ACS Managed Support grew to now support more than 200 editors located around the world. The transition to ACS Managed Support will continue for the next 3 years, bringing further cost and time efficiencies to the administration of peer review.

New and improved tools and services for authors were introduced

  • At mid-year ACS Publications began capturing standardized funding agency (FundRef) information on submitted manuscripts. We are gathering this information on more than 90% of revised manuscripts. FundRef information allows ACS Publications to provide authors with more relevant information about open access options and requirements available to them. Tagging of this information also is integral to the Division’s participation in the cross-publisher CHORUS (Clearinghouse for the Open Research of the United States) open access initiative.
  • Peer Review Operations began capture of ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID) identifiers in ACS Paragon Plus. This identifier helps to uniquely distinguish journal contributors.  Use of ORCID will be expanded across ACS in 2015 and will be instrumental in the Unified Architecture Initiative as a unique author identifier.
  • Peer Review Operations originated an editorial business plan, negotiated, contracted, and successfully deployed a third-party (ACS white-labeled) English editing service within the ACS ChemWorx environment. This service, promoted to authors and endorsed by ACS Editors, provides a fee-based mechanism for authors to improve the English in manuscripts they submit to ACS journals (and/or to other publishers).   

“ACS is Open” initiative successfully positioned the Society as an open access publisher

In January 2014, ACS Publications launched an ambitious four-pillar open access publishing strategy to position ACS as an open access publisher. This initiative was a cooperative effort between the ACS Publications Division and Washington IT.  Image

  • The program debuted on New Year’s Day with the selection of the first ACS Editors’ Choice article. Each day, a noteworthy article from an ACS journal, selected by the journals’ editors, is made openly accessible; articles from every journal were featured during 2014, drawing more than 600,000 page views.
  • The ACS Author Rewards was developed as a stimulus program to facilitate the transition to Open Access. The ACS Author Rewards digital certificates were provided to more than 40,000 ACS authors in 2014. As part of this effort staff developed ACS ChemWorx apps to track rewards and to purchase open access options. (By the end of December more than 25,000 authors were contacted to receive their rewards eligible for redemption 2015-2017. Remaining 2014 authors were contacted during early January. Standard communications and help desk responses were developed for this and all other open access initiatives.)
  • This year also saw a doubling in the number of authors opting to publish using expanded options available under the ACS AuthorChoice license in order to meet the open access requirements of their funders.
  • In preparation for the 2015 launch of the ACS’s first fully open access journal, ACS Central Science, recruited acclaimed chemical biologist Dr. Carolyn Bertozzi (UC Berkeley) as Editor-in-Chief. Dr Bertozzi is a champion for open access, and also aspires to build a top-tier multidisciplinary journal that will challenge the elite science journals. Dr Bertozzi has recruited a global editorial board of nearly 60 renowned scientists. The journal submission site opened in early December; with dozens of manuscripts submitted in the first month.

Strategic development of award-winning ACS ChemWorx continued

In August of 2014, ACS Publications released ACS ChemWorx 2.0, a refined version of the software environment that focuses on the key value propositions for the software environment, namely targeted interactions with ACS Publications (galley proofs, article-level metrics, open access purchase options) and on reference management tools for authors and readers. A streamlined interface and prominent calls to action make it easier for users to navigate the software. The ACS ChemWorx user base has grown to > 66,000 unique users.

2014 Content Delivery Platform enhancements were implemented by ACS Publications’ Digital Strategy Team in collaboration with Washington IT

The ACS Journals web content platform stands alongside CAS databases and SciFinder as one of the Society’s most widely used digital assets: over 340,000 individuals have registered for an ACS ID in order to receive regular periodic content updates from ACS Publications. In 2014 more than half of ACS journals delivered in excess of 1 million article downloads. ACS Mobile, the award-winning alerting app available for both iOS and Android, also continues to grow in impact; with an installed base of over 70,000 users, the app generates approximately 150,000 abstract views per month, thus driving awareness and usage of research published in ACS journals.

Washington IT launched Active View HTML 5 viewer

This is an interactive full text HTML 5 format that enables researchers to attach highlights and notes to ACS journal articles of interest, explore referenced abstracts via Reference QuickView (powered by CAS SciFinder), make and save annotations in their ACS ChemWorx library, share links with colleagues and lab group members, and sync their libraries across smartphone, tablet, and desktop environments. This updated version will work on tablets and mobile devices.

ImageWelcomed a new Editor-in-Chief and instituted new advertising sales management

C&EN made important changes to both its editorial and advertising sales operations in 2014. On December 1, C&EN welcomed Dr. Bibiana Campos-Seijo as the magazine’s new Editor-in-Chief.  Dr. Campos-Seijo previously served as Editor and Publisher of Chemistry World in the UK. She brings a wealth of editorial experience, a reputation for innovation in digital publishing, and a charisma that befits this highly visible position.

The C&EN Media Group developed new sources of revenue

The C&EN Media Group introduced several new revenue streams to expand its engagement with advertisers, including custom publishing and events, web symposia, and the publication of three advertising-supported topical supplements in print. The most exciting initiative was C&EN’s inaugural “virtual symposium” produced in partnership with BioConference Live on the topic of “Advances in Drug Discovery & Development.” This one-day symposium, which was held on September 24, featured 20 leading scientist speakers, attracted more than 7,300 individual registrations, and garnered financial support from eight key advertising sponsors.

2014 marked a year of editorial and marketing excellence for C&EN

  • C&EN editors and marketing staff won a number of prestigious national awards in 2014. Business writer Lisa Jarvis was one of only two finalists in the National Academies Communication Awards, while Assistant Managing Editor Cheryl Hogue won a first-place award from the Society of Environmental Journalists.
  • The C&EN design team experimented with presenting our content in interactive graphics online (e.g., sortable tables, animations, and timelines) and produced new cover and article layouts and designs. Examples of this are the Global Top 50 database, the 2014 Chemistry Year in Review and August’s Year of Crystallography issue. The last two of these three issues also included a specially-designed microsite.
  • In response to the strategic editorial audit carried out earlier in 2014, C&EN sought to deliver more of the science content readers demanded. There is now an emphasis placed on shorter stories and more playful story treatments (where appropriate), and on editorial angles. Editorial staff also incorporated social media planning into C&EN processes as well as content with other forms of reader engagement such as interactive quizzes, etc. Some of these new editorial features include:
    • Speaking of Chemistry: a video series successfully launched under the expertise of Office of Public Affairs/ACS Productions and C&EN staff.
    • Patent Picks: a monthly collaboration with CAS that reports on trends CAS scientists observe from the patents in their databases.
    • From the Scenes: a collection of stories based on journals content from ACS Publishing.
    • Chemistry In Pictures: a Tumblr created to highlight great photos of chemistry in action.
  • In addition to collaborations with the Office of Public Affairs (OPA), CAS and ACS Journals as outlined above, the C&EN editorial staff assisted with new C&EN-branded initiatives designed to generate ancillary revenues. This included the production of C&EN branded topical supplements as well as participation in the virtual symposium on drug discovery and development described above. The editorial staff also strengthened relationships with the marketing team to continue to produce the C&EN webinar series and to promote content through both C&EN and C&EN Media Group social media channels. As an external collaboration, C&EN has also recently established an agreement with Scientific American, whereby that popular science magazine now regularly features a selection of C&EN stories within the chemistry section of its website.
  • The C&EN Webinar program held a total of 64 webinars in 2014. During this time period the program has taken on new clients, tackled new webinar formats, and moved email marketing to our marketing automation software, Eloqua, all while continuing to generate leads for sponsors.

Debra Davis, Staff Secretary, Joint Board-Council Committee on Publications