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Should we discuss this thread on CHMINF list?

Should we discuss this thread on CHMINF list?


I've extracted a couple messages from a thread on the CHMINF list (read bottom up) talking about ACS pricing policies.  Since this is an area we talk about, I thought it would be useful to talk about it ourselves and see if the ACS team wanted to chime in and ultimately respond to this thread.



Another angle I’d be interested is ACS’s perspective on American vs. International negotiations with consortial and individual institutions and better yet the context to why they have moved away from a standard set of subscription practices and instituted new ones.


I found this blog post by Jenica Rogers from SUNY to be interesting.

Small schools are struggling to keep ACS journals.

I admire SUNY's creativity and communication with faculty in the face of a stubborn ACS.

Encouraging Student to obtain Individual Membership Prepare them for life without resources.

As I recall, ACS is very slow to revise pricing options because of all the approvals that must be obtained.

Ben Wagner often reminds us of the struggle that SUNY schools have and this is very real.


Sue C


-------- Original Message --------

Subject: [CHMINF-L] SUNY Potsdam takes a stand...

Thought I would share this blog post on SUNY Potsdam’s decision not to renew their subscription to the ACS Journals package.

The author’s summary:

SUNY Potsdam will not be subscribing to an American Chemical Society online journal package for 2013. We will instead be using a combination of the Royal Society of Chemistry content, ACS single title subscriptions, the ACS backfile, and ScienceDirect from Elsevier** to meet our chemical information needs. We’re doing this because the ACS pricing model is unsustainable for our institution and we were unable to find common ground with the sales team from the ACS. Instead, we explored other options and exercised them. You could do the same if you find yourself in a position similar to ours as ACS standardizes their pricing, and maybe together we can make enough choices to make our voices heard in meaningful ways.

Previous Community Member

James and others,

Obviously, ACS Publications is taking criticism at the moment as a result of the recent blog post. I know that to date our Customer Advisory Panel conversations have been focused largely on the future, and helping to guide ACS in the right direction.  But I understand for a number of you your colleagues and friends know you are involved in the ACS Customer Advisory Panel, and may look to you for some guidance or answers when topics are raised like on the ChemInf listservs of the past days.

Let me share a brief overview, and then I am happy to speak with any of you individually, or if you would like to arrange a CAP team call, I'll ask Sara to arrange that.  I’d ask that my comments below be treated as confidential within our Customer Advisory Panel, and not shared out directly from here.  However, as a member of our CAP, If this provides you with any insight or context to the recent comments, feel free to share that insight in your conversations with friends and colleagues.

As you know, ACS is in the final stages of implementing our pricing program.  We have several situations where the consortia or buying group we work with is fully transitioned to our Value-Based Pricing, but these groups purchase access under a single invoice in many cases, and the distribution of those fees across members still tracks based on historical pricing (i.e. based off a print collection 15 years ago), and doesn't match ACS pricing plan. 

We now have several buying groups that are re-aligning pricing among their members to match ACS' price points.  This is great news for some, because those historic prices pegged them higher than ACS' price model.  But for others, in these budgetary conditions, that readjustment creates a real challenge. 

As Ms. Rogers points out in her blog, and as you all know from our CAP discussions, ACS is committed to completing the transition to our pricing model and to pricing consistency.  Unfortunately, the flip side to consistency is that ACS pricing can seem inflexible in some cases.  While we have been working with customers that face significant changes to achieve ACS pricing over time, in cases where the change is the result of a consortia or buying group redistributing those fees, there is not much we can do to address this.

Finally, Ms. Rogers’ blog has some positive things to say about ACS’ commitment to consistent and transparent pricing.  Her position in the post and with ACS has been that in her instance she believes the price point itself is too high.  ACS works to benchmark our pricing using available information, but in the digital age and in an age of cost-per-use as a primary metric, benchmarking is a difficult task.  There may be opportunities within CAP to provide better benchmarking into ACS pricing, and we’d be happy to discuss this, but at present our analysis shows that ACS pricing is typically below other Society STEM publishers, and our annual price increases have been below the averages that are reported through Allen Press.

Thanks much.  If anyone would like to contact me directly, my work line is 614-447-3773.  Enjoy the weekend everyone.

I just saw Brandon's reply to the list (re-posted below).  Thanks for addressing this!


Please allow me to address possible misconceptions about policies of the American Chemical Society and licensing arrangements for access to journals from ACS Publications.

We were of course dismayed to learn that SUNY Potsdam has not chosen to retain broad subscription license access to ACS journals for the benefit of their faculty and students. The decision over the balance between the breadth of access and budget management is one that each individual institution needs to make, based on its unique faculty and student needs, institutional mission, and library resources.

In addition to partnering with library consortia and larger research-intensive institutions on multi-year plans designed to provide the broadest possible access to our Society’s journals, ACS Publications offers a range of flexible options intended to suit the needs of smaller schools. We encourage any academic institution that is concerned about maintaining affordable access for their community to consider the ACS Academic Core+ package as an alternative to the ACS All Publications package.

We continue to work with schools within the SUNY system to tailor options to their needs. For those following this listserv discussion, we invite any of our librarian customers to contact ACS directly with any questions or concerns about their licensed access to our publications. The fastest route to ensuring future access to ACS Publications journals – the most cited in core Chemistry – is via your ACS representative.  The link below will direct you to your representative; in addition, Stephen Hansen, ACS Director for North American Sales, and Susan Pastore, ACS Director for International Sales, can also address specific concerns:

ACS Publications is also concerned about misperceptions that have been shared on this and other web discussion sites regarding the purpose of the ACS Guidelines and Evaluation Procedures for Bachelor’s Degree Programs, the goal of which is to promote excellence in chemistry education for undergraduate students. These guidelines cover staffing, infrastructure and materials, curriculum, and skills development. The guidelines are regularly reviewed and revised, and are administered independently by the Society’s Committee on Professional Training (CPT).  This committee is composed of ACS volunteers who are practicing chemists and chemical educators hailing from a wide variety of U.S. institutions, including primarily undergraduate institutions and research-intensive universities, as well as industry.  There is no representation from ACS Publications on the Committee on Professional Training, nor does ACS Publications participate in the selection process for the list of journals recommended by the program.

The CPT Guidelines do not require subscriptions to a defined set of ACS Publications journals.  The CPT currently has a recommended list of 88 journals from a wide variety of publishers; there is no minimum number of ACS journals mentioned nor are any specific ACS journals required. Given that ACS Publications publishes many leading chemistry journals in terms of impact factor, citations and usage in many areas of chemistry (including top titles in the 7 Thomson Reuters ISI core chemistry categories), it is a logical outcome that ACS journals would be represented accordingly among the preeminent publications on this recommended list; nonetheless, more than two thirds of the list is comprised of options from other scientific publishers and societies.  Please follow this link for the list of journal options recommended by the Society’s Committee on Professional Training:

As always, we appreciate the open and rich discourse on this listserv, and welcome open discussion of these issues with our customers and user community.

Brandon A. Nordin
VP Sales, Marketing, & Digital Strategy
(202) 872 8063