A Second Failed Test of ACS Articles on Request

March 26, 2013

Please see the revised post, A Third Failed Test of ACS Articles on Request and How to Help. Although the introduction, conclusions and comments section of the post below may be useful, the links and discussion around them should be disregarded.

fordA recent post described the lack of public author-oriented documentation for the ACS Articles on Request (AoR) program. For the unfamiliar, AoR is supposed to provide free access to any article published in an ACS Publication:

... the ACS Articles on Request service allows an author's article to be accessed without restriction 12 months after web publication. ACS authors may e-mail or post the Articles on Request URL on their website in distributing up to 50 free e-prints of their final published articles to interested colleagues. Under this service, the access restriction will be lifted at 12 months, allowing free access to such articles via those same author-directed links.

The author may distribute a link to the final version of the article at his or her own discretion. The link directs readers to the PDF version of the article on the ACS website. Those users who already have subscription access privileges obtain seamless IP-based access. Such access is not metered.

The very existence of this program appears to not be widely known. ACS has been staunchly opposed to almost all attempts to loosen its grip on community-created content over the years, so AoR sounds like a fine idea.

The only problem is it doesn't seem to work as advertised. Consider this comment from Benjamin at Pipeline:

Do you manage to get full text through this link ? http://pubs.acs.org/articlesonrequest/AOR-ARCeAEVJYDQ9wxxS3R7C

If yes, the link is in ACS Paragon under 'ACS Articles on Request' in 'recently published papers'.

Keep me posted, if it works, you can just put a link on a public webpage and 50 clicks is quite a lot in my opinion.

Let's try:

Failed attempt to read AoR article

The link worked perfectly, directing me to a valid ACS publication title page. You can see I'm logged in with my ACS ID. But instead of access to the PDF, the usual paywall is shown.

In the comments section to my original post, Geoff Hutchison was kind enough to supply some AoD links on his online bio. Let's try item #34 on the list, a 2012 paper in J. Phys. Chem. C:

Another failed attempt to read AoR article

Nothing but paywall. It's the same story with all of the AoR links - save one, a 2013 publication in J. Phys. Chem. Lett. However, this paper was published less that one year ago and so has not entered the 'without restriction' access phase.

To summarize, my tests show that the ACS Articles on Request service appears to be broken, badly. In a test from two different journals with articles more than 12 months old the 'access restriction' was in full force. This result stands in stark contrast to the ACS promises to authors on its website.

If you've tried these AoR links or others, I'd be very interested in knowing the outcome.