IPLC Response to the Article Development Charge Proposed by the American Chemical Society

The 13 Ivy Plus libraries are both surprised by and united in opposition to the zero embargo option announced by the American Chemical Society (ACS) on 21 September 2023. This unexpected new charge is a clear challenge to both authors’ rights and the developing scholarly communications ecosystem. According to this policy, an Article Development Charge (ADC) of $2,500 would be charged to authors who seek to retain and exercise the right to deposit a pre-publication version of their article in an open repository once their manuscript enters the ACS peer review process. According to the ACS policy, this charge is to cover the costs of the ACS publishing services through the final editorial process. However, ACS will continue to charge the fees for access to these articles that purportedly cover the same services for articles subject to 12-month embargoes, resulting in both authors and subscribers compensating ACS for pre-acceptance services under the new ADC model. In addition, the ADC does not obviate the requirement for an Article Processing Charge (APC) if the author wishes their article to be openly accessible at the point of publication with ACS, although the cost of the ADC will be credited towards the APC.

The ADC is clearly aimed at authors from those institutions who do not have a Transformative Agreement (TA) with ACS and who wish to make the accepted manuscript of their article openly available. It challenges the long-established practice of authors sharing manuscripts through open access repositories, and prevents universities from creating an accessible record of their scholarly output. Like many author pays models, the ACS approach disadvantages authors from the humanities and from less well-funded institutions and countries. Therefore, it stands against an open and inclusive scholarly communications ecosystem.

The Nelson memo issued by the Office of Science and Technology Policy on 25 August 2022 requires that the results of federally funded research are made freely available and publicly accessible by default in agency-designated repositories without any embargo or delay after publication. Federal agencies’ draft public access plans indicate that authors may fulfill this mandate by depositing a pre-publication version of their research in an agency-hosted repository as well as potentially other agency-designated repositories, such as an institutional repository.

The new ADC charge proposed by the ACS is objectionable on many levels. First, it intimidates authors from retaining and exercising their rights to deposit their research freely and openly in a repository of their choice. Requiring authors to pay a fee to immediately deposit a copy of their accepted manuscript in a repository directly challenges both the rights retention approaches adopted by many funders (and contemplated by some of the federal agencies as they develop responses to the Nelson memo) and the faculty-endorsed open access policies of many institutions. Refusing to honor authors’ desire and commitment to making their work available to the public or to respect the mechanisms that funders and institutions have put in place to help them do so reflects a fundamental disregard for the views of the research community and the value of equitable access to scholarship. Second, even if the author does pay the redundant ADC, they would still need to pay an additional APC if their institution does not have a TA with ACS and they wish the published version of their article to be openly available. This fee structure enriches the ACS at the cost of open access and seems likely to burden rather than benefit less well-funded authors and institutions, driving the costs of open access further from their reach. And third, the ADC is clearly contrary to the spirit of the Nelson memo, which requires that publications resulting from federally funded research be immediately made freely available in agency-designated repositories. ACS seeks to monetize this requirement, making it more difficult for authors to deposit research into agency-designated repositories in order to satisfy federal public access mandates. 

Scholarly research and publishing are well along the path to open. More and more funders are requiring that research based on their support be made freely available. Researchers are complying by retaining rights in their work and making it freely available in local or domain-specific repositories. Some publishers have sought to monetize this transformation through a series of additional charges, whether they be TAs, APCs, or ADCs. The 13 libraries in the Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation have a shared mission to improve discovery of and access to information. Helping to shape the discourse around scholarly communication is a fundamental part of this mission. We stand firmly opposed both to this threat to open scholarship and to its monetization, and call on publishers to join us as partners in this critical transformation to open access and not exploit this transition as an additional form of revenue.


Joseph S. Meisel
Joukowsky Family University Librarian
Brown University

Torsten Reimer
University Librarian and Dean of the University Library
University of Chicago

Ann Thornton
Vice Provost and University Librarian
Columbia University

Elaine L. Westbrooks
Carl A. Kroch University Librarian
Cornell University

Susanne Mehrer
Dean of Libraries
Dartmouth College

Joseph Salem
Rita DiGiallonardo Holloway University Librarian and Vice Provost for Library Affairs
Duke University

Martha Whitehead
Vice President for the Harvard Library and University Librarian
Harvard University

Elisabeth M. Long
Sheridan Dean of University Libraries, Archives, and Museums
Johns Hopkins University

Chris Bourg
Director of Libraries

Brigitte Weinsteiger
Interim Director of Libraries
Gershwind & Bennett Family Senior Associate Vice Provost for Collections & Scholarly Communications
University of Pennsylvania

Anne Jarvis
Dean of Libraries and Robert H. Taylor 1930
University Librarian Princeton University

Michael A. Keller
Vice Provost & University Librarian
Director of Academic Information Resources
Stanford University

Barbara Rockenbach
Stephen F. Gates ’68 University Librarian
Yale University