Monday, April 19, 2021

A complaint about ACS Publications

From this week's C&EN, this interesting complaint: 
I just received an email advertisement from the American Chemical Society, which is now offering Authoring Services, and I have concerns. I am a longtime member of the society and have performed many hours of volunteer service over the years, as do other members. As a freelance professional writer and editor, I feel a level of threat from the society as it offers services that are in direct competition with my livelihood. I know that I cannot be alone in this concern. It is curious how the society touts the benefits of membership regarding employment and career but then engages in activities that may have a real negative impact on the amount of work its members can generate. 

When I was helping as a coauthor of ACS textbooks, I would hear similar concerns from members who also published textbooks. At that time, I was told to inform them that ACS textbooks were created in order to push the text industry in terms of new pedagogy and that it was not the society’s intent to make a significant amount of money on texts. But as ACS strives to generate income in more and more areas that infringe on its members’ ability to earn, I would very much appreciate it if ACS executives could enlighten us and alleviate our concerns.

Carl E. Heltzel
Seneca, South Carolina

This sets up an interesting challenge from the governance perspective. I don't know if Mr. Heltzel would be successful in rallying sufficient numbers of members to petition the ACS Council, but let's say that they did. Could the ACS Council stop ACS Publications from offering this service? Theoretically, I suspect the answer is "yes", but I imagine that in reality, the answer is "no." (I genuinely can't imagine that Pubs gets all that much from authoring services, but who knows...) 

1 comment:

  1. In practice, the ACS Council has very little power over business decisions of the Society. Those are handled by the Board. So, in theory, maybe a "yes" but in practice - nope.


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