Institutions that subscribe to the learned society’s “RSC Gold” collection will be given credit equal to the cost of their subscription, valid until the end of 2013. They will be able to use the credit to pay the society’s £1,600 open-access article fees for any paper whose corresponding author is affiliated to them.
The initiative follows the government’s endorsement of the recommendations of the Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings, chaired by Dame Janet Finch, the former vice-chancellor of Keele University.
The Finch group said that the UK should move towards making all publicly funded research freely available via the “gold” open-access model, which involves authors paying article fees.
In their new open-access policies, also published in the past week, the UK research councils and the European Commission both commit themselves to meeting the cost of article charges.
But James Milne, managing director of publishing at the Royal Society of Chemistry, said the “Gold for Gold” scheme would “help researchers make their articles open access during a period when funding to support this model is still relatively unclear”.
Under the initiative, he said, the society was likely to waive more than £1 million in article fees by the end of 2013.
If feedback about the scheme is positive, more vouchers will be issued when subscriptions are renewed next year, Dr Milne said.
The offer will initially apply only to UK institutions, but the society said that it would consider extending it to the rest of the world “should it prove beneficial to the community”.
Asked whether the society would lower subscription prices as more researchers chose open-access options, as is envisaged in the Finch report, a spokesman said: “Having only this week heard the government’s response to Finch, we’re looking at various scenarios as we begin the lengthy transition to open access.”