A diamond mission

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Diamond open access (OA), sometimes also referred to as platinum open access, is a form of gold open access – which means that there is permanent and unrestricted online access to an article in its final published form (or version of record). Diamond OA means there is no requirement for authors to pay article processing charges, writes May Copsey

The diamond model for open access has recently been in the spotlight, due to the publication of a report from Coalition S and Science Europe looking into the landscape of these journals that are free for readers and authors.1 Chemical Science, from the Royal Society of Chemistry, was one of the journals that fed into this report and as executive editor, I was interested to see the full picture of these journals across scientific publishing. 

The report shows that there are a huge number of relatively small diamond OA journals, run and managed by the scientific community themselves, usually on a volunteer basis. The costs of these journals are generally taken on by the institutions that run them, such as universities and societies. The study found there to be multiple scientific strengths with this model, however they face some key challenges, including indexing and archiving, governance and technical capabilities around editorial systems and publication platforms. 

This report has allowed me to reflect on the situation in chemistry, where there are some examples of diamond open access journals which don’t fit this general picture. These journals have international readership and authorships, permanent archiving and provide visibility for authors’ research through indexing in databases such as Web of Science and Scopus, while still supporting the community to publish their research open access with no fees. It’s no coincidence that these journals are published by societies with large publishing programmes which can redirect funds in order to do this. In turn, these societies have historically benefitted from the strong support of the chemistry community as authors, reviewers, editors and readers, and will hope this continues in order to sustain such programmes.

The Royal Society of Chemistry took the decision to flip our leading general chemistry journal Chemical Science to open access at the beginning of 2015, and we have never charged any publication fees for authors. We’re proud to say that we have made over 6,000 leading research articles permanently free for both authors and readers during this time. We choose to do this as part of our mission to support the dissemination of chemical science knowledge to the widest possible audience, as open access clearly accelerates this mission. We also believe open access should be available to all, and so this is a very specific way to make open access inclusive, ensuring equitable publishing for those without funds. We know from experience that the move to diamond OA for Chemical Science has made open access accessible for some authors who would not previously have been able to afford the relevant article processing charges (APCs).

This vision is shared by our sister chemistry societies, with journals such as ACS Central Science from the American Chemical Society and CCS Chemistry from the Chinese Chemical Society. Notably the Beilstein Institute, a not-for-profit foundation, publishes two diamond (or platinum) OA journals in chemistry, and strongly supports open science practices in publishing.

So the conversation doesn’t always have to be about gold versus green or how much the APC will be. Societies, with the strong support of their communities, can help lead the way.

More information about Chemical Science and the team can be found at: http://rsc.li/chemical-science 

  1. https://www.coalition-s.org/diamond-unearthed-shining-light-on-community-driven-open-access-publishing/

May Copsey is executive editor of Chemical Science

May Copsey