Joint Statement of ELEKTRON and the VLIR Working Group on RDM & Open Science on the American Chemical Society’s new Article Development Charge model


Elektron – a consortium of universities, university colleges and scientific institutions in Flanders (Belgium) –  and the VLIR working group on Research Data Management and Open Science jointly voice serious concerns regarding the recent implementation of the Article Development Charge (ADC) model by the American Chemical Society (ACS).

On September 21, 2023, the American Chemical Society (ACS) announced a new twist on the article processing charge (APC) model of funding open-access publishing. Authors are offered the option to fulfill funder requirements for immediate open access, allowing them to post accepted manuscripts with a CC BY license in open access repositories upon acceptance. However, this comes with the caveat that authors must pay an ADC upon submission.

This introduction of the ADC model is viewed as a setback for open access, authors’ rights, and the broader scholarly communication landscape:

  • Equity: The ADC challenges the transition towards equitable open access, particularly for authors from institutions lacking transformative agreements with ACS. By imposing additional financial burdens, the ADC raises barriers that hinder the dissemination of scholarly knowledge, especially for researchers without the means to afford such charges. Open Access requirements are here used against researchers, monetizing their deposit of research in a repository of their choice. Accepting this practice could establish a troubling precedent, halting an emerging evolution of some publishers already setting a just example of removing embargo periods for the open publication of the author’s accepted manuscript.
  • Double dipping: The ADC model raises concerns of “double dipping,” effectively charging authors for services already funded through subscription fees. ACS states that the ADC covers the cost associated with pre-acceptance services, including peer review. In practice, most editorial and peer-review work is done by academics without charge to the publisher, and the broader costs of publishing are covered by existing subscription fees. Since the ADC is paid prior to the completion of peer review and is likely not refunded in case of rejection, it effectively becomes a submission fee, again a precedent not to be encouraged.
  • Rights Retention: The ADC model challenges Rights Retention policies of funders and institutions, which typically require researchers not to transfer copyright to publishers. Instead, these policies endorse empowering authors to retain ownership and control over their manuscripts. On top of that, the newly proposed ADC model can create confusion, particularly in countries with secondary publishing rights.

In light of these concerns, Elektron and the VLIR working group urge ACS to reconsider the ADC model and its implications for the academic community. Rather than adding even more complexity to the system, we advocate for approaches prioritizing open access, transparency and rights retention.  Collaboratively, we believe in fostering a fair and sustainable scholarly communication ecosystem essential for advancing knowledge and society.

(This statement was approved by VLIR on 27/03/2024)