Free the Science

An Initiative to Provide Complete Open Access

Free the Science is a business-model changing initiative that will make our research freely available to all readers, while remaining free for authors to publish.  It is a new publishing standard for ECS, one of the last independent scientific society publishers. We already give authors the choice to publish their work as Open Access and plan to open access to the entire ECS Digital Library by 2024.

Why is ECS committing to Free the Science?

Electrochemistry and solid state science are the future: they are the leading sciences that will ensure our survival on this planet. Every day, they touch almost everyone’s lives, through the electronics we use to the medical devices that keep people alive. From New York City to the rural village of Kyauk Su in Myanmar, our fields are becoming increasingly important.

ECS believes that by opening, and democratizing research, we can more rapidly advance our important sciences and society at large, while directly fulfilling our mission. The key to scientific advancement has always been the open exchange of information. Yet even in today’s digital environment, many scientists around the world struggle to access quality, reliable research. The bottom line is discoveries need discoverability and that is only guaranteed through full Open Access.

How did Free the Science come about?

In March 2014, an ECS ad hoc Committee on the Free Dissemination of Research evaluated the evolving publishing landscape and the viability of transitioning to an Open Access publications model. They determined that in addition to maintaining our high standards of peer review, ECS should pursue complete Open Access to keep our publications relevant and sustainable.

In May 2015, the ECS Board of Directors approved launching the Free the Science campaign to help fund the transition to complete Open Access by 2024.

How much will it cost to Free the Science?

Based on our projections and scenario planning, to completely open our digital library and publish all papers moving forward we will need to invest $40M to support our publishing operations. The good news is that the Free the Science initiative has already accrued $8M through operating surpluses and donations.

How will ECS raise the additional $32M needed?

The Free the Science initiative rests on four funding pillars:

  • implementing a growth business strategy that aims to expand membership and meetings
  • prudent management of operations that always generates a surplus
  • appropriate portfolio investments
  • a broad and creative fundraising campaign
How does scientific publishing work now? Is Open Access a new concept?

The scientific landscape has been evolving considerably over the past several years. Whereas independent scholarly publishers like ECS used to be the primary stewards of scientific research, now the industry has been consolidated, with a small number of predominantly large commercial publishers. Initially, the only way to access this published research was via subscription.

The subscription model still exists in most cases; however, as early as the 1990s academic circles began discussing Open Access as an alternative. In the early to mid-2000s, organizations like PLOS and Creative Commons formed to facilitate and advocate for the open exchange of scientific research. More recently, traditional science publishers have begun offering Open Access options. Open Access funding mechanisms vary, but in many cases, the publication costs are transferred from readers to authors, who must pay a processing fee to publish their work.

To learn more about scientific publishing and Open Access, the work of Peter Suber, director of the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication and the Harvard Open Access Project, is a great place to start.

Does anyone REQUIRE Open Access for scientific research?

Yes.  Several governments, including the U.S., U.K., and Germany, now require that authors who get government funding for research publish that research in an open format. The Registry of Open Access Repository Mandates and Policies (ROARMAP) provides comprehensive information on funding institutions with Open Access policies.

How can I help to Free the Science?

You can support ECS and help free the science by: