Free the Science

An initiative providing complete open access

Moving toward an open science paradigm

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, nonprofit 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.

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 and 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.

How will ECS Reach its Goal?

The future sustainability of ECS 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 that the Society reinvests into the Free the Science fund each year
  • 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:


Why not go fully open access right away?

ECS ultimately aims to achieve full open access across its peer-reviewed journals, but we have not yet determined the most appropriate business model. As a nonprofit society, we need to consider many elements of the way we work, and how publishing fully-OA journals will change those. While we do further research and further modelling, we realize we need to be offering authors the option of making their articles open access right away. Author Choice Open Access satisfies the immediate needs of authors.

How will people know if an article is freely available?

Open access articles will be flagged as freely available at the Table of Contents level (and in TOC alerts) and at the abstract level in our digital library. The usage license under which they are made OA will also be visible. Readers can then follow the link to the full text if they wish to, and will be able to download it regardless of their subscriber status.

Does ECS have a Green OA policy for its journals?

Yes. Authors may deposit the pre-print and/or published versions of their articles in their institutional repository, with no embargo, provided that the files prepared by and/or formatted by ECS (and its vendors) are not used for that purpose. Any posting made or updated after the acceptance of the article for publication should include a link to the online abstract in the ECS publication of origin or to the entry page of that publication.

If authors choose to make their articles OA through Author Choice Open Access, the Version of Record (VoR) will be freely available in our digital library. Authors may also deposit the published PDF of these OA articles in their institutional repositories, if they wish to.

Why are you levying article processing charges while still keeping subscriptions? Are you double–dipping?

ECS is committed to not double dipping, and our motives for moving toward OA have nothing to do with creating new revenue.

Ultimately, our plan is to move away from the traditional subscriptions model altogether. However, we are not yet in a position to do so.

In 2014 and 2015, ECS piloted a model where authors affiliated with subscribing institutions were offered unlimited article credits. This was very popular with authors, and the number of authors that took us up on that offer was significant. During that time more than 99% of the open access papers that we published were published using article credits (in other words, the authors did not pay).

Alongside our OA activities, we have also made a commitment to our libraries to hold our current subscription pricing for as long as possible through this initiative; and that commitment has been in place since 2013.

However, we do need to continue to cover our costs, and offering all authors from all subscribing institutions article credits without increasing our subscription prices has proved unsustainable. Because we – and our authors — like the model, we are happy to continue subsidizing it, albeit with some changes. In 2016, we created a new product, ECS Plus, which is a subscription to all of our content PLUS unlimited article credits for authors from ECS Plus institutions. The difference between the price of the digital library and the price for ECS Plus is, in many cases, one to three) of our moderately priced APCs – and for that, all authors from your institution can publish an unlimited number of open access articles with ECS during the subscription year.

In some cases, institutions will recoup the entire cost of their ECS Plus subscription through APC savings.