Interview with DOAJ’s newest silver sponsor American Chemical Society

DOAJ is delighted to welcome American Chemical Society (ACS) as a Silver sponsor. We asked their Director of Open Science Strategy and Licensing, Sybille Geisenheyner, to tell us about open access at ACS and what the future of open access publishing looks like.

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Hello Sybille, tell us a bit about yourself and the ACS.

My name is Sybille Geisenheyner and I am a “newcomer” at ACS. In my role as Director, Open Science Strategy & Licensing, I am responsible for further defining the role of ACS in relation to open science and I am working with my colleagues on a sustainable transformation of some the business models to better support this initiative.

Over the past several years, ACS has significantly expanded its support of open science. The Society has three completely open access journals, with plans to launch an additional nine new titles in 2021. Also, with partners from the world’s largest chemical societies, ACS launched ChemRxiv in 2017, the world’s premiere preprint server focused on the chemical sciences. In addition, ACS has pioneered transformative Read + Publish Agreements with institutions across the globe, helping to speed up the transition to open access publishing at universities and research institutions.

I’m looking forward to expanding upon these accomplishments and growing the organisation’s role in the open science movement.

While I am new to ACS, I am not a newcomer to the industry. When I began my first position at SilverPlatter in 1996, I was selling Medline on CD-ROM and people paid for it!

Why is it important for ACS to support DOAJ?

DOAJ is a key player in the open access movement, as it provides a valuable service for the global research community and improves quality in open access. This service benefits all parties involved in publishing, including authors, funders, institutions, and publishers. At ACS, we believe that such a valuable tool needs financial support to thrive and therefore we support DOAJ so that it can fulfil not only its current mission, but the future tasks and challenges it may face.

And we are truly grateful for that support. ACS has two journals indexed in DOAJ currently. What benefits has DOAJ-indexing brought them or the authors publishing in them?

DOAJ is a first stop for authors, librarians, and funders to ensure their articles appear in journals that meet a certain editorial standard. Because DOAJ is an essential tool for so many, having our journals indexed there means that people can find accurate information about our journals, ranging from the editorial board to peer review details, licensing, archiving information, and APC prices. When a journal is indexed in DOAJ, authors, as well as their institutions and funders, can be assured of the journal’s quality and know that it is a reputable place to submit their research.

What is your organisation doing in the open access space? Do you have any exciting
projects or new initiatives you would like to tell us about?

ACS has been active in the field of open science and open access for many years. Our new open science resource center has information on our ongoing initiatives in this space.

Since 2013, scientists have been able to publish open access in all of our more than 65 premiere journals thanks to the ACS Author Choice License, which was developed as an ACS ‘internal’ open access license based on CC BY and CC BY-NC-ND. From 2021, we will replace these licenses for all our open access articles with the common CC BY and CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 licenses.

At the same time, our product family will grow by another nine gold open access journals to a total of 12 completely open access journals. We hope to provide a home for authors within chemistry and aligned fields who want to publish open access in the future, whether because they are encouraged to do so by their funder or because they recognize the value in reaching a global audience through open access publishing.

There has been much discussion lately on how open access will become the default for
scholarly publishing and that it’s just a matter of when. Initiatives like Plan S, OA2020, and more
are making pushes in that direction. Do these initiatives affect your organisation? How is your organization changing or adapting for a future where open access is
the default?

These initiatives have brought publishers out of their comfort zone, which ultimately benefits the greater research community. The desire to design things better or to find new approaches is always an incentive for new ideas. ACS has already established itself as the premiere publisher of journals in all fields of chemistry and is preparing for all possible scenarios to maintain its status as the first choice for chemists to publish their research. Ultimately, the organization is adapting so that every researcher is afforded the opportunity to publish in a range of journals which meet their funders’ mandates.

For anyone who claims that publishers are not flexible or ready for change…I must tell them that publishers are actually very agile. I’ve never seen so many changes as in the last 5-6 years, and I’ve been around for a while now. But changes also take time, especially in such a complex system. If I try to open a door with a crowbar, I will probably end up with a completely destroyed door, even if only the lock breaks. As the publishing landscape changes, ACS will be at the forefront to ensure that it can continue to meet the needs of chemists and scientists around the world.

What are your personal views on the future of open access publishing and/or academic
publishing in general?

There are so many creative minds on all sides of the negotiating table that I’m not really worried. The business models will certainly change, but if the current global pandemic shows us anything, it is that science and research are fundamentally important. Quality-checked scientific content is essential, just as libraries have systemic importance for their users. Realizing this should actually bring us all closer together.

What do you think that the scholarly community can do better, or do more of, to support
the advancement of open access?

The scholarly community should unite and work together more. We’ve all gained knowledge during these times of unprecedented crises. If we work together, we could use this knowledge to strengthen our community, rather than allowing these crises to lead to financial cuts. I personally find that very worrying. As a taxpayer, I want more money to flow into science and education, not less. Presumably, we as citizens all have to get louder to make an open science sustainable.

Thank you very much, Sybille!

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