Free the Science Background

Initiative to provide open access

ECS has launched Free the Science, a mission-focused initiative to provide open access to the entire ECS Digital Library—making all content from ECS journals freely available to all readers, while remaining free to publish for authors. We believe the key to scientific advancement has always been the open exchange of information. Yet even in today’s global, digital environment, many scientists around the world struggle to access quality, reliable research.

This is tragic because research into solid state and electrochemical processes has the potential to enormously impact the sustainability of our planet, making it imperative that we share scientific discoveries in our field as widely as possible.

Why now? Why ECS?

“As scientists, we have the opportunity to make the world a better place.”

-Johna Leddy, the University of Iowa

Electrochemistry and solid state science and technology have never been more relevant to the world’s challenges. Our fields are leading the way toward discoveries and solutions in new and renewable energy sources, water sanitation, food safety, and medical care. Electrochemists and solid state scientists are addressing global sustainability with critical innovations including:

  • Improved batteries that power everything from cars to cell phones to pacemakers
  • Biosensors that rapidly detect foodborne pathogens
  • Next generation semiconductors for more efficient solar cells
  • Fuel cells and biofuels that reduce global dependence on fossil fuels
  • Electrochemical reactors that can filter contaminants from waste while producing fuels as a byproduct

By freeing the science, ECS will improve access to research, encouraging broader discovery and faster innovation in the areas critical to the future of our planet and the health of those who live on it.

The challenge

“The publishing system has to change somehow, or it’s going to destroy itself.”

-Allen Bard, the University of Texas at Austin

While the ECS community is positioned to make a global impact, we believe today’s models of scientific publishing no longer meet the needs of scientists nor the spirit of our mission to advance and disseminate scientific research.


The current systems impede innovation and scientific solutions to global problems. Scientists who need to access cutting edge research are blocked by subscription paywalls, while authors who wish to publish open access face cost-prohibitive article processing fees. This is particularly problematic for scientists in the developing world, whose institutions often cannot afford exorbitant author fees or subscriptions.

Commercial publishers are impacting scientific integrity and independence. A minority of commercial publishers decide the quality, quantity, and price of published scientific information. Many of these publishers are public companies whose primary responsibility is to their shareholders, not to the scientists who produce the work.

Current open access programs have encouraged the proliferation of low-quality content. Many existing open access programs have minimized or even eliminated peer- review, creating an excess of unqualified, even erroneous content.


Under the Free the Science initiative, all ECS content will be free to read and free to publish. Our goal is to remove both subscriptions and article processing charges. Rather than burdening scientists with the cost of publishing research, we will pay for our publications through a dedicated fund supported by like-minded individuals and organizations.


ECS is led by scientists, for scientists. We take seriously our role as a steward of electrochemical and solid state scientific research. As a nonprofit member-based society, ECS is accountable to the scientists, researchers, and engineers who comprise our membership, and serve on our boards.

ECS will maintain the high peer review standards currently in place for our journals. The expertise of our editors, all esteemed leaders in their fields, will continue to direct our review process. The transition to open access will not change our high editorial standards.

A changing landscape

“Open access and open data are challenges that the whole world must embrace. We all understand the goal. Now we need to work together to make it a reality.”

-David Willetts, UK Department for Business, Innovation & Skills

In light of the current issues in the scholarly publishing world, many government agencies like the U.S. National Science Foundation, Research Councils UK, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have established open access mandates for publicly funded research. These mandates vary from directives to include the research in an open access repository upon publication to directives to publish in an open access journal. Several private funders, like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, have also adopted open access publishing requirements for the research they fund.

By transitioning all of our publications to complete open access, ECS helps researchers comply with these new policies while still enabling them to publish in highly respected journals. Further, our goal to not charge article processing fees means more research funding will support research, not publication costs.

First steps to Free the Science

To demonstrate our commitment to freeing our science, ECS has kept our subscription rates flat since 2013. Until we can eradicate these fees entirely, we pledge not to raise our subscription costs.

We’ve also instituted an author choice open access program to provide authors an open access option in our publications while we prepare financially for complete open access. In alignment with our open science commitment, we’ve kept article processing fees low—$800 per article compared to $1,200 in comparable journals—and included article processing fee waivers in our membership and subscriber benefit packages.

Ultimately, we hope to eradicate all subscription and article processing fees. This is a bold and dramatic move for ECS, as approximately 35 percent of our annual revenue comes from subscriptions. In the absence of that revenue, we’re raising a $40 million Free the Science Fund over the next several years to support our annual publications costs. Through careful planning and the generosity of our donors, we currently have $8 million dollars in that fund.

How you can Free the Science

You can support ECS and help free the science by:

  • Donating to the Free the Science Fund
  • Publishing your work as open access in ECS journals
  • Encouraging your institution to publish with ECS and donate to the Free the Science Fund

Since 1902, ECS has served our discipline, our members, and society at large as a steward of electrochemistry and solid state science and technology working to disseminate research now critically important to the sustainability of the planet. Please stand by us now as we make the imperative shift to complete open access. Together, we can free the science.