Our goal is to make the chemistry community’s transition to OA smooth, fair and sustainable, with no compromise to quality or to ethical standards.
We’re supporting this transition through two main routes: as a publisher we’re leading the way with sustainable, high quality open access chemistry journals and services, and as a voice for the chemistry community we’re lobbying and advocating on your behalf as research funders draw up their open access policies for the future.
High quality open access publishing
We published 35,000 research articles in 2018, and around a quarter of those were published open access. It’s possible to publish OA in any of our journals by paying a one-off fee per article – this is known as “hybrid OA”. But we also have a suite of fully open access journals and services, including:
- Our flagship journal Chemical Science, the first free to publish, free to read journal in the chemical sciences
- RSC Advances, the largest open access chemistry journal
- Our new OA journal Nanoscale Advances
- Our Read & Publish scheme, that allows researchers at participating institutions to publish gold open access in any of our journals, and
- ChemRxiv, the chemistry preprint server we co-own with the American Chemical Society (ACS) and the German Chemical Society (GDCh)
The benefits of publishing open access are clear: articles published OA with us are downloaded 97% more often than non-OA work. This means increased reach, and so increased potential citations when research is at its most relevant. Our OA fees, known as Article Processing Charges or APCs, are among the lowest in our industry, and we also offer a range of waiver and discount options.
All of this comes with the same high standards that authors expect from the Royal Society of Chemistry, including fair and rigorous peer review. Unlike commercial publishers, our overall goal is to advance excellence in the chemical sciences, and so our products are all designed to first meet the needs of the chemistry community.
And of course we’re a not-for-profit organisation – so any surplus that we generate is invested back into our charitable activities – such as our education resources and support for teachers, our grants and awards, and our advocacy work for the chemical sciences.
Influencing the OA policy landscape
The ideals of OA are quite simple, but the details of implementation are much harder to agree and enact. Different funders have different ideas about how and when articles related to work they fund should be published. You may have heard about one proposal: Plan S. In 2018 a coalition of research funders referred to as cOAlition S, including UKRI and Wellcome Trust, expressed their commitment to Plan S.
This sets out 10 principles which the plan’s architects hope will ensure that "after 1 January 2020 scientific publications on the results from research funded by public grants provided by national and European research councils and funding bodies, must be published in compliant Open Access Journals or on compliant Open Access Platforms".
The RSC’s initial position is that, while we support many of the principles outlined in Plan S, we have concerns about the timetable for implementation, and feel that the roll-out of Plan S needs to be part of a full global transition to make sure it succeeds, as science is a global endeavour.
It should allow time for full consultation with the global science community and for agreement to be reached at a global level across researchers, funders, institutions, learned societies and publishers.
There’s no shortage of commentary about the implications of Plan S. But it’s mainly focused on publishers, funders and learned societies – and we have heard relatively little from researchers themselves. What are the practical implications of Plan S for the researcher and where is their voice in the debate?
Voice your Plan S opinions
One of the RSC’s most important roles is as a voice for chemistry, and so we want researchers to have their voice heard in this debate. To help the chemistry community engage with the issues and the debate, we created a short animated video that imagines two chemistry researchers discussing the pros and cons that have been voiced about Plan S. You can watch the video on the open access pages of our website.
UKRI, the largest funder supporting Plan S, has started to review its open access policy and will be consulting later in the year. The review will consider Plan S principles, but UKRI will make their own decisions on implementation. We have been collating your views to contribute to UKRI’s consultation, so we’ll continue to provide information and opportunities to engage so that your voice is heard as the policy landscape of OA evolves. Look out for news of a live event on Plan S, which will be held in May and livestreamed on our YouTube channel.
Our goal is to make chemistry community’s transition to OA smooth, fair and sustainable – so that we can build an open future together.