ASBMB journals move to open access

The ASBMB is pleased to announce that the society’s three highly regarded journals — Journal of Biological Chemistry, Molecular & Cellular Proteomics and Journal of Lipid Research — will be fully open access beginning in January 2021.

The ASBMB exists to meet the needs and respond to the demands of its members, and our members, in line with the broader scientific community, have called for immediate and free public access to research published in ASBMB journals in order to reduce barriers to scientific knowledge and accelerate discoveries.

ASBMB journals have for years made accepted manuscripts immediately available for free as Papers in Press and have embargoed the final redacted versions of articles for subscribers for only a single year. In addition, authors have had the option to pay an additional fee for immediate open access of the final version of a paper or upload the accepted version for free to a public repository. As of January, the final versions of all articles will be immediately available to everyone, qualifying ASBMB journals as “gold” open access. This is important because an increasing number of funders of biomedical research are requiring its grantees to publish in only “gold” journals.

Our decision-making process was careful and consultative. During our months-long deliberations, we had to balance what is best for science and scientists with what is sustainable for a nonprofit organization. Ultimately, we determined that the ASBMB cannot achieve its goal of full open access alone, so we made the strategic decision to enter into an agreement with the commercial publisher Elsevier, which has experience transitioning subscription journals to full open access and the requisite technical expertise and infrastructure.

We want to emphasize that this agreement will not change the peer-review process at any of our journals. JBC, MCP and JLR remain committed to rigorous, fast and fair review — by active scientists.

We are happy to report, also, that the agreement will smooth the submission process for authors and reduce the cost of open-access publishing — for both members and nonmembers alike. It also will make our journals easier to read on mobile devices, discoverable on the platform ScienceDirect and, generally speaking, more nimble technologically.

Transitioning from a subscription model to an open-access model is complicated, but we know this is the right decision for the ASBMB. Throughout our deliberations, we kept focused on our goal: to make the high-quality papers we publish immediately and permanently available for everyone to read, download, copy and distribute.

Contact us with your questions or comments

ASBMB journals move to open access image


Will the ASBMB maintain editorial control of its journals?

Yes. The editors of all of our journals — Journal of Biological Chemistry, Molecular & Cellular Proteomics and Journal of Lipid Research — remain committed to rigorous, fast and fair peer review by practicing scientists.

What is open access?

Open access (OA) means permanent, unrestricted access to published scholarly research. Readers are able to access, share and use the content without charge. There are two main types of OA: green and gold.

What is the difference between green and gold OA?

Green OA articles are publications made available by authors who “self-archive” their manuscripts in freely accessible institutional repositories or websites. In contrast, gold OA articles are made immediately and permanently available by the publisher on its website.

Why is gold OA important?

The ASBMB’s mission is to advance the science of biochemistry and molecular biology and to promote the understanding of the molecular nature of life processes. Free and immediate access to high-quality research reduces barriers to scientific knowledge and accelerates discovery.

Gold OA is also important because an increasing number of funders of biomedical research are requiring their grantees to publish in “gold” journals. This transition means that all of our published articles will be in compliance with funder mandates for OA and will meet the requirements of OA initiatives such as Plan S. (Read more about Plan S below.)

I thought ASBMB journals were already OA. What’s different now?

ASBMB journals have made accepted manuscripts immediately and freely available as Papers in Press for years. In addition, authors have had the option of paying an additional fee to make the final versions of their articles immediately available to the public. Adopting gold OA means all of the articles we publish will be immediately and permanently available. Authors publishing gold OA articles will retain Creative Commons “Attribution” licenses (CC BY), which means others can “distribute, remix, tweak and build upon” licensed work, as long as the original author is credited.

Why is the ASBMB transitioning to gold OA?

We are responding to the needs and interests of our members and the broader scientific community for immediate and free public access to research published in ASBMB journals. Our goal is simple: To make the high-quality papers we publish immediately and permanently available for everyone to read, download, copy, distribute and reuse.

What is Plan S?

In 2018, a group of national research funding organizations, supported by the European Commission and the European Research Council (ERC), launched cOAlition S. The primary principle of Plan S follows:

“With effect from 2021, all scholarly publications on the results from research funded by public or private grants provided by national, regional and international research councils and funding bodies, must be published in Open Access Journals, on Open Access Platforms, or made immediately available through Open Access Repositories without embargo.”

When will ASBMB journals transition to gold OA?

January 2021.

I like publishing with society journals because they support the scientific community. With this arrangement, will that still be the case?

The ASBMB exists to meet the needs of and respond to the demands of its members. Our commitment to invest in the communities we serve remains unchanged. This partnership will enable us to offer additional member benefits in the future.

Why did you select Elsevier?

Transitioning to gold open access and migrating 115 years of articles introduces significant barriers. After considering several potential affiliates, the ASBMB chose to pursue a publishing agreement with Elsevier on the basis of its open access experience and technological capabilities. We’d like to make clear that this is not a buyout. Our agreement with Elsevier helps us navigate these obstacles as we make our content freely available to all.

My institution’s contract with Elsevier was canceled. Will articles published by ASBMB journals now be accessible to my institution on ScienceDirect? Will both old and new articles be accessible?

All articles, past and present, published by the ASBMB will be freely available on ScienceDirect.

What was the process you followed to select a publishing partner?

Our decision-making process was careful and consultative. Our president, Gerald Hart, convened a task force — made up of journal editors, associate editors and other elected society leaders — in spring 2019 to determine how the ASBMB should approach gold open access. The task force determined that the only financially viable way that ASBMB could embrace gold open access would be through a publishing agreement with a commercial publisher. The task force reviewed proposals from publishers and created a shortlist of those that should present their proposals in February 2020.

Primary considerations were:

  • Do they have experience successfully transitioning journals to gold OA?
  • Do they have the technical infrastructure to support ASBMB journals, including migrating their substantial archives?
  • Can they add value to enhance the author and reader experiences?

After the publisher presentations, the task force recommended that the ASBMB Council proceed with Elsevier, a decision ratified by Council shortly afterwards. The contract with Elsevier was finalized and unanimously approved by the ASBMB Council in late April 2020.

How will this change the publishing experience for authors?

The transition offers multiple benefits for authors, including:

  • Ease of submission — Elsevier has a state-of-the-art and easy-to-use editorial submission system.
  • Reasonable costs — The author (or their institution or funder) pays an article processing charge, commonly known as an APC. Our APCs will be very reasonably priced at $2,000 for members and $2,500 for nonmembers.
  • Improved discoverability and readability — All ASBMB journal articles will be available on the journals’ websites and the ScienceDirect platform. They also will be easier to read on mobile devices.
  • Increased visibility and reporting — Authors can count on greater exposure and will enjoy personalized reports on how readers are accessing and reading their work.
How will readers benefit from this transition?

The reading experience will be enhanced with improved formatting and article enrichments, with data and interactive tools. Additionally, gold OA will allow for publications to be freely accessed and distributed, improving the visibility of authors’ research.