This guide demystifies the intricacies and procedures surrounding open access mandates, ensuring authors can effectively navigate institution or funder requirements to maximize the reach and impact of their research.

A circular walkway with a colorful carpet in the middle.

In an era where information accessibility and dissemination are more critical than ever, the rise of open access (OA) publishing is reshaping the way research is shared and consumed. This growth is notably evident in the field of chemistry, and the percentage of articles published OA in ACS Journals continues to increase year after year. Many authors are gravitating towards OA for various reasons: some seek the broadest audience for their work, others are committed to open science principles, and many are responding to mandates from their funders or institutions.

This helpful guide explores the intricacies of OA mandates, providing clarity on what they entail and how they differ across various institutions and funding bodies. Read on to learn more about practical steps you can take to ensure compliance with these mandates, thus avoiding potential penalties and maximizing the visibility and impact of your research.

What is an open access mandate?

An OA mandate is a policy set by research funders and/or institutions requiring researchers to make their publications available through open access. Authors should familiarize themselves with these mandates as early as possible in the publishing process, as the specifics can vary by institution and may not always be clearly communicated.

What might these requirements be?

While these requirements differ, a common stipulation is that authors may be required to make their articles immediately available as OA upon publication. This often involves publishing the version of record in a fully open access journal or opting for immediate OA in a hybrid journal.

Depending on your funder, you may be required to publish your work in a transformative journal, or in a hybrid journal which is included in a "transformative agreement" such as an ACS read and publish agreement (which now cover more than 1,000 institutions worldwide).

The policy may also stipulate self-archiving of the accepted manuscript, either after a 12-month embargo period, or immediately at time of publication. Your institution or research funder may also require you to make the underlying data available in a repository, and/or provide a data availability statement alongside your article.

How do I know what's required?

To determine if you're subject to an OA mandate, you should check the terms of your grant, consult with a representative from your institution, or speak with a grant officer from your research funder. They can provide up-to-date information on what is recommended or required of you and your co-authors. Be aware that non-compliance can lead to penalties, such as withholding of grant payments or ineligibility for future funding.

If you are the submitting corresponding author for your article, you should also check with each of your co-authors to ensure that you are aware of all applicable open access mandates across the author team - particularly if you are collaborating with one or more researchers in a different country than your own.

How can I make sure I meet the requirements?

The ACS Journal Finder is an invaluable platform in this regard. This free tool checks information from your research funder and institution, outlining your options for publishing in specific ACS journals.

The Journal Finder also informs you if your institution has an ACS read and publish agreement, which provides access to ACS hybrid journals and supports publishing charges in ACS journals. Your institution’s read and publish landing page will let you know which journals are covered under your agreement. Publishing under an institutional agreement is designed to be simple—the system will identify the submitting corresponding author's affiliation and offer them the choice of opting into OA during the Journal Publishing Agreement process. You can find out more about read and publish agreements, or the process of publishing OA using grant or personal funding, on the ACS Open Science site.

Begin your journey towards publishing OA

It's an exciting time for scholars in chemistry and beyond, as open access continues to broaden the accessibility and impact of scientific research. As the landscape of open access mandates in research publishing continues to evolve, ACS Publications is committed to keeping you informed of the latest OA developments and guiding you along each step of your path to making your published research openly available for anyone, anywhere.

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