ACS and the NIH Public Access Policy - Clarification at Last

An alert Depth-First reader pointed me to the new ACS policy for authors receiving NIH funding. The details are contained in a document outlining two ways authors can choose to comply with the new law requiring recipients of NIH funds to deposit a copy of their peer-reviewed manuscripts into PubMed Central. The choices are:

  1. Publish the article under ACS Author Choice by paying a fee. The ACS will then automatically deposit the article on behalf of the author.
  2. Publish the article using the standard procedure, but with the ACS granting authors the right (and responsibility) to deposit their manuscripts in compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy.

Under Option 2, copyright remains with the ACS - authors are simply granted an exception to enable them to comply with federal law. This means, among other things, that ACS retains the right to prevent third parties (including authors themselves) from creating derivative works of deposited manuscripts, and from redistributing them.

For better or worse, the federal government is now in the scientific publishing business. What remains to be seen is the extent to which this new publisher has the power and ability to deliver on the high expectations of many in the scientific community.