Join Us to Free the Science

ECS at 115

I hope most of you have heard of ECS’s initiative to Free the Science. Our goal is to make our high quality, peer-reviewed research in the ECS Digital Library freely available to everyone. That means authors can publish for free and anyone, anywhere, can read papers, abstracts, or proceedings without a subscription. We think it will revolutionize the progress made in our niche of science and we hope it will set an example for other publishers, especially those that are nonprofit societies, to pursue a more robust open access business model.

As we celebrate our 115th anniversary this year, Free the Science couldn’t be more important. The research that YOU do has the ability to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues from energy independence and clean water, to safety and medical technology. We don’t think it’s too bold to say that our science can save lives and ensure our planet’s sustainability. And that’s why, more than ever, we must work together to Free the Science.

But our initiative to Free the Science is hardly free. While we want to open access to science there is a cost to producing peer-reviewed research. It takes time, money, and know-how to disseminate quality scientific research. After 115 years in the field of scholarly communications, ECS has the knowledge and bandwidth to implement such an initiative, but we need the support of our membership to make it happen.

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ECS Celebrates Open Data Day

On March 4, 2017, ECS will be celebrating Open Data Day! For 2017, this global initiative focuses on four key areas that open data can contribute to: open research data, tracking public money flows, open data for the environment, and open data for human rights.

What is open data? Open data is the revolutionary concept that some data should be available for public use without legal or fiscal restrictions. ECS’s Free the Science initiative aligns categorically with open research data and open data for the environment. This ECS initiative is fighting to bring science and technology into the information sharing era; as technology makes information rapidly more available, the way in which data is accessible and presented becomes evidently more important for scientific advancement. In light of this, ECS is actively seeking ways to make our research open to expedite innovation and find solutions for environmental issues and other technically relevant areas. In addition to this, we are seeking to change the way that scholarly communication among scientists is exchanged and socialized. In the coming months, keep your eye out for big announcements in these areas which are expected to help us accomplish those goals!

Do you want to participate in Open Data Day but don’t know how? On Thursday, March 2 through Saturday, March 4, ECS will be circulating a survey to determine our field’s specific needs in the realm of accessibility to data and research. The best way to contribute to open data is by sharing your knowledge and helping us to understand the accessibility needs of our researchers.

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By: Ellen Finnie, In the Open

Free the ScienceThe Electrochemical Society, a small nonprofit scholarly society founded in 1902, has an important message for all of us who are concerned about access to science. Mary Yess, deputy executive director and chief content officer and publisher, could not be clearer about the increased urgency of ECS’ path: “We have got to move towards an open science environment. It has never been more important – especially in light of the recently announced ‘gag orders’ on several U.S. government agencies– to actively promote the principles of open science.” What they committed to in 2013 as an important open access initiative has become, against the current political backdrop, truly a quest to “free the science.”

ECS’s Free the Science program is designed to accelerate the ability of the research ECS publishes — for example, in sustainable clean energy, clean water, climate science, food safety, and medical care — to generate solutions to our planet’s biggest problems. It is a simple and yet powerful proposition, as ECS frames it:

“We believe that if this research were openly available to anyone who wished to read it, anywhere it the world, it would contribute to faster problem solving and technology development, accelerate the pace of scientific discovery, encourage innovation, enrich education, and even stimulate the economy.”

How this small society — which currently publishes just two journals — came to this conclusion, and how they plan to move to an entirely open access future, is, I believe, broadly instructive at a time when our political environment has only one solid state: uncertainty.

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ECS shows its vision for the future of academic publishing

Open AccessECS is celebrating Open Access Week this year by giving the world a preview of what complete open access will look like. From October 24th through October 30th, we are taking down the paywall to the ECS Digital Library, making over 132,000 scientific articles and abstracts free and accessible to anyone.

Eliminating the paywall during Open Access Week is a preview of ECS’s Free the Science initiative; a business-model changing plan with the goal of making the entire ECS Digital Library open access by 2024. ECS believes that the opening and democratizing of this information will lead to rapid advances in discoveries ranging from renewable energy to clean water and sanitation.

“ECS has one core goal: to disseminate this scientific research to the broadest possible audience without barriers,” says Mary Yess, ECS Deputy Executive Director and Chief Content Officer. “The research of our authors has the ability to address some of the most critical issues across the globe, and we believe paywalls should not impede progress.”

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Open Access Week is fast upon us, and this year’s theme is “Open in Action.” ECS’s participation in Open Access Week is a preview of our vision to Free the Science, a future where authors can publish with us for free and readers can access our Digital Library without paywalls (find out more about what we’re doing to celebrate).

In the spirit of this year’s theme, ECS has created a list  of “action items” to help you make the most of the week:

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Education is the Key to SuccessChildren struggle to learn when they don’t have science labs and libraries. Learning becomes difficult in classrooms that are falling apart, or where children are expected to sit on the floor because they have neither desks nor chairs.

A lack of infrastructure is just one contributor to South Africa’s entrenched and ongoing educational inequality. There is another, less frequently discussed issue that is deepening this inequality: access to quality peer-reviewed information.

Such information should be available to all South Africans whether they are school children, university students, researchers or citizen scientists. This will encourage lifelong self-learning. It will spur continued research and innovation. Access to information can bolster education, training, empowerment and human development.

International Open Access Week offers a good opportunity to explore how South Africa can improve its citizens’ access to information.

Opening up access

It has been more than 21 years since apartheid ended, but a distinction remains between South Africa’s “rich” and “poor” universities. One of the reasons for this distinction is the richer institutions’ ability to invest in research resources. They can afford expensive subscriptions to databases which contain a wealth of research – ironically funded by taxpayers’ money.

The historically disadvantaged and predominantly black universities can’t afford such subscriptions. Their academics also can’t contribute to such resources, because authors are expected to pay a fee for the “privilege” of being published.

As university budgets are slashed, even wealthier institutions are beginning to struggle with subscription and publication fee costs.

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Open AccessNASA recently announced that all research funded by the space agency will be accessible to anyone looking to access the data at absolutely no cost.

The new public web portal, called PubSpace, was established in response to NASA’s new policy, which requires that all research funded by NASA and published in peer-reviewed journals must be open to the public within one year of its initial publication.

“At NASA, we are celebrating this opportunity to extend access to our extensive portfolio and scientific and technical publications,” NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman said in a press release. “Through open access and innovation we invite the global community to join us in exploring Earth, air, and space.”

However, the entire body of NASA-funded research will not be accessible in PubSpace. Materials and patents governed by personal privacy, proprietary, or security laws will not be housed in the new database.

NASA’s new policy and PubSpace is a direct response to a request from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy for federal funding agencies to make papers and data more easily accessible to other researchers and the public.

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For-science or For-profit?

Overcoming barriers in scholarly publishing

ResearchIn 1995, Forbes published an article entitled, “The Internet’s first victim?” In the article, author John Hayes predicted the world of commercial, for-profit scholarly publishing would suffer under the thumb of the internet and begin the slow process of fizzling out for lack of ability to turn a profit.

Turns out he was wrong.

Commercial scientific publishing has adapted to the times, becoming a multi-billion dollar industry; a $25.2 billion industry to be exact.

The rise of the for-profits

According to CBC News, the top for-profit scientific publishers report profit margins of nearly 40 percent, making some of those margins even higher than that of companies like Apple and Google.

The divide between ECS publications and that of top commercial publishers has deep roots. In the early days of scientific publishing, most journals came out of nonprofit scientific societies like ECS. However, the digital age changed things. It did not stifle the commercial publisher as Hayes thought, instead it hurt the scientific societies. Because the cost to make the switch from print to digital was so high, many societies sold their journals to large, for-profit publishers.

The top five largest, for-profit, academic publishers now publish 53 percent of all scientific papers in natural and medical sciences, but ECS still remains as one of the last independent scientific society publishers, and is still committed to the initial vision of the journals: to disseminate scientific research to the broadest possible audience with the fewest barriers.

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U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is making his voice heard in the quest for open access of vital scientific research.

After losing his son to cancer in May of 2015, Biden has been on a mission to accelerate cancer research in search of a cure. In order to make those leaps and bounds in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, Biden is now pushing for an open access database to gain better understanding of the disease and advance innovation.

According to The Washington Post, Biden stated that the path toward breakthroughs relies upon increasing the number of researchers who can access data.

While the scope of ECS’s science may be different, our mission to accelerate innovation and open access to our research is the same.

ECS’s Free the Science initiative aims to make all of the research in our Digital Library free to publish and free to read – freeing the science for everyone.

Instead of putting money into the publishing industry, Free the Science is investing in research – allowing scientists to share their work with readers around the world and attracting more minds to think about how to solve some of our planet’s most pressing problems.

Learn more about Free the Science.

Open Access LogoWhen eLife emerged in 2012, the biomedical journal aimed to be on-par with such competitors as Nature and Cell as far as content goes, but publish those papers at no cost to the author or reader.

After 1,800 papers four years of a complete open access model, eLife will get another boost from its funders to allow the journal to continue down its path of high standards and openness.

eLife’s status in the field is rising quite quickly,” eLife editor Sjors Scheres told Nature News. “I liked the idea behind it — to make a high-impact journal completely driven by scientists, and open.”

ECS’s Free the Science initiative draws many parallels to eLife’s publication model. Much like eLife, ECS looks to maintain our rigorous peer-review process as we move toward making the ECS Digital Library completely open access.

Free the Science is an initiative that seeks to remove all fees associate with publishing and accessing our scientific content so scientists can share their research with readers around the world, allowing more minds to think about and solve problems.

Learn more about Free the Science and watch our video explaining why it has never been more important to advance our technical domain.

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