When we first started to think about how OA applied to our publications program, we did a very simple thing: we looked at our organizational mission, and asked ourselves whether that helped us formulate a plan in the face of potentially very disruptive changes occurring in the publishing landscape.
Our mission, since our formation in 1902, has been to quickly and efficiently exchange information and ideas among those interested in electrochemistry.
That made it easy. ECS started publishing journals because it was the fastest and most efficient way to disseminate information at the time: but “the times, they are a-changin’.” Open Access was a blindingly obvious progression for our publishing program in light of our mission: we wanted to be Open Access, we wanted to be completely Open Access, and we wanted to be Open Access NOW.
And more than that: as we thought about what Open Access meant, and as we engaged with the thinking behind it, we realized something else. The science we are custodians of is critically important to the future of our planet. The science that we publish addresses energy storage, renewable energy, sanitation, sensors, corrosion: all hugely important to the way we live now and to improving people’s lives across the world. We should be aiming to make this science freely available to anyone, anywhere in the world. We shouldn’t be charging people – or institutions – to read it; and we also shouldn’t be charging scientists to share their findings. We should be facilitating the free exchange of high quality information in every way we could.
Fundamentally, we believed that Open Access was core to our mission and was something that we both wanted – and needed – to achieve.
And so Free The Science was born. We decided that we would endeavor to create an endowment fund that would allow us to carry on publishing this important work, without charging our readers or authors. In the meantime, we would put in place some transitional plans and products to help move us towards our goal, while we marshaled our resources into fundraising for this very exciting vision of our future.
Which is where we are today.
ECS Deputy Executive Director & Chief Content Officer