ESA joins other scientific societies in opposing potential Trump executive order


Blogpost by Osvaldo Sala, ESA President

On December 18, ESA joined 125 other societies in sending a letter to address a potential Trump administration executive order that would require all papers produced by federally funded research be made freely available immediately upon publication.

While ESA supports open data and facilitates the accessibility of its science content to the broadest audiences, implementing this executive order (changing the current 12-month embargo period for subscription journals to a zero-month embargo) would be very damaging to the scientific enterprise and may inhibit the communication of the latest scientific results. Such a shift would burden authors, effectively moving from a “reader pays” or subscription model for some journals to an “author pays” model for all ESA journals. This type of abrupt change would especially harm our colleagues in institutions with little ability to pay author fees and those in developing countries. ESA strongly believes that any executive order concerning scientific publishing should include a process that allows input from the scientific community, scholarly publishers, and research funders.

Currently ESA uses a either a green or gold open access publishing model for its membership Bulletin and five journals. Ecosphere is ESA’s gold open-access journal with all articles immediately freely available online for all to read, download, and share. The ESA membership Bulletin publication is also gold open-access . Ecology, Ecological Monographs, Ecological Applications, and Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment are ESA’s hybrid journals that fall under a green open-access model. Authors who wish to publish their articles in these journals in an immediate open-access agreement may do so – for a fee. Otherwise, the article can be read immediately by those who subscribe to our journals or work for organizations that hold subscriptions and by those that are ESA members. After twelve months, all articles are open to everybody.

ESA launched its flagship journal Ecology almost a hundred years ago in 1920. ESA publishes articles with research findings that have advanced our understanding of ecological knowledge over the past century to the present day. During this timespan, our journals weathered disruptions in scholarly publication models. ESA fully expects and anticipates that its journals will adapt to the current disruptions occurring now in scholarly publishing. If you have ideas to share about the road ahead for ESA journals, email (, and use “publications” in the subject line to voice your thoughts.



Osvaldo Sala

Read the policy letters posted on the ESA website:

Multi-society Letter on Potential Executive Order Changing Embargoes on Journal Articles (December 18, 2019)

Multi-organization Letter on Potential Executive Order Changing Embargoes on Journal Articles (December 18, 2019)

For reference and additional background, read ESA’s Immediate Past-President Laura Huenneke’s Ecotone blogposts that summarize ESA’s publishing model and also lists concerns from ESA membership about the future of publishing:

Evolving landscape for scientific publishing, Laura Huenneke, January 4, 2019

The Future of Journals in Open Access, Laura Huenneke, May 2, 2019

Read the Science Magazine news article summarizing the potential executive order and the response from the community, Science groups, senator warn Trump administration not to change publishing rules.