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Taking Issue With ACS Journal Subscription Policies

February 7, 2011 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 89, Issue 6

I concur with Robert Buntrock’s assessment of ACS publications policies as “draconian” (C&EN, Jan. 3, page 5). Let me add that it’s annoying to find my online subscription to the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry extends back only to 1996. For older articles I must pay $35 for 48 hours of access. Contrast this with my subscription to Science, which allows me to read issues dating back to July 1880.

Kerry Fowler

Shame on ACS Publications and ACS in general for not providing back-issue support for subscriptions per the discussion provided by Buntrock. He makes an excellent point, and $75–$150 as described in the rebuttal is a substantial amount of money for some people. That can represent heat and electricity for a graduate student for a month; or prescription copays for a retiree for many months (or a few weeks, depending). Despite the cost issue, it’s just wrong behavior, and ACS on all levels should be ashamed for disrespecting its membership.

Roger Simon
Waldron, Ark.

Buntrock has a real point about losing access to back issues of ACS journals upon stopping an electronic subscription. Few subscribers likely want continued access to back issues after stopping a subscription. Continued subscription gives access to new issues as they come out; there is no reason (other than collecting more income) why it should be required for continued access to back issues for which the subscriber has already paid. Crawford’s reply, after a digression concerning the low price of the member fee for electronic subscriptions, is essentially “Tough. Suck it up.”

It should be possible—for a small, one-time fee to cover the cost of setting up the access—for subscribers to have continued access to journal issues for which they have already paid. This should apply also to libraries, whose budgets are continually squeezed by the high price of journals and sometimes have to give up subscriptions. Library users are much more likely to need access to back issues of journals to which the library once subscribed.

Theodore Chase Jr.
Princeton, N.J.



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