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Communications of the ACM


Celebrate Open Access Week With ACM

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Judy Robertson

Happy Open Access Week! If you would like your work to reach the widest possible audience, Open Access week encourages you to take steps to make this happen. Think of all those unfortunate readers out there who would just love to read your latest article but can’t because it is hidden behind a pay wall. Luckily, the nice people at the ACM have developed a new tool called Author-Izer which can help you reach these readers by allowing them to download your ACM published articles for free via a link from your own web page.

This is a great step forward from the ACM in the support of the democratisation of academic knowledge. I’ve been following the arguments for open access publishing for a while. The arguments go like this: academics invest their time in research and in writing up their findings for conference and journal articles. Conferences and journals do not pay these authors for their contributions. Reviewers and editors volunteer their time to ensure the high quality of the publications. Publishers then charge readers a small fortune for the articles which they got for free, either through institutional library subscriptions or individual charges per article online. This means that potential readers of articles can be barred from accessing the articles they need, for example because they belong to a small institution which does not subscribe to a particular journal, or because they are not professional researchers and so don’t have access to institutional resources of this sort. Yet, for science to progress, researchers need access to the latest findings. And if science is to take the rest of the world with it, members of the public should also have access to articles which relate to the issues in their lives.

A lot of academics attempt to get round the problem by publishing early versions of their articles on their personal web pages for readers to download. The problem with that is that the final version which appears in the published journal may contain important corrections which your readers will miss. Further, if a reader downloads articles from your web page, this download is not included in bibliometric download data which the publisher collects so your true brilliance is not quantified for those who care about such things! Author-Izer takes care of both of these issues.

Here’s how to set it up. First, get your free ACM web account, and then go the ACM digital library. From there you can edit your author profile page. Once you get an email notification that the author profile has been updated you will find that the ACM Digital Library shows an Author-Izer option under every article by you which was published by the ACM. When you click on it, you can authorise the article to appear the url of your personal publication web page. It evens generates the code for you to cut and paste into your webpage sothat the reference appears with the smart little ACM logo and – glory of glory- the bibliometric information about how many times it has been downloaded and cited. That last touch appealed to my academic vanity no end. There you are – next time a reader visits your web page, they will be redirected for free to an ACM archive of your article.  They will be humbly pleased to read your great work, and their click will be added to your download statistics. And the cause of science will have advanced, one article view at a time.



"The problem with that is that the final version which appears in the published journal may contain important corrections which your readers will miss."

At least for conference proceedings, the problem is the opposite: The published version may omit significant details and important corrections appear in the full version on the authors' website.


"The problem with that is that the final version which appears in the published journal may contain important corrections which your readers will miss."

Isn't that because authors must transfer all copyright to the ACM if they wish to be published by the ACM?

Wouldn't the simpler solution be for authors to retain copyright, thus allowing them to publish their own final work on their own website?


Actually, I'm quite thankful you posted about this option - I never could have guessed, just by reading the ACM copyright form :) As far as I am concerned, this tool would seemingly do... Thanks!


This is a nice move on ACM's behalf to allow more open access. However, when you click on an authorizer link, the 10 second delay before you can actually download the paper is obnoxious.

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