Approved by the Infrastructure and Research Policy Committee on April 15, 2021
Approved by the Public Policy and Practice Committee May 5, 2021
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 16, 2021


The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) endorses the principle of providing public access and enhancing dissemination of federally funded research in ways that advance public health and safety and strengthen the global quality of life. ASCE believes that the scientific and engineering communities must adapt to changing scholarly norms and must develop new dissemination models that address open-access. 

At the same time, ASCE deems it essential to preserve the scholarly value of the peer-reviewed version of record, which is fixed at its time of presentation without any possibility of historical rewriting - that the original work cannot be altered by the author or anyone else. ASCE also believes that learned societies, acting in accordance with their educational mission, should be able to recover their costs of investing in managing the peer review process, editing, publishing, disseminating, and maintaining an ever-growing archive in perpetuity.

ASCE is concerned that the process to mandate open access to publicly funded research could undermine the abilities of scientific societies to meet their obligations to the United States scientific community, to the American public, and to scientists worldwide.  

ASCE believes that open access laws must:

  • Promote the efficient and effective dissemination of federally funded research results.
  • Preserve peer review.
  • Accommodate the economic implications of various public access models. 
  • Protect against the potential abuse or misuse of scientific and technical information.


Open access has been the subject of much discussion amongst academics, librarians, university administrators, government officials, commercial publishers, and learned society publishers. There remains substantial disagreement about the viability of open access, along with much debate and discussion about the economics and methods of funding an open access scholarly communications system. Supporters of open access believe that any results of federally funded research should be freely available.

A number of scholarly journal publishers, however, maintain that the "gatekeeper" role they play, including peer review and the editing and indexing of articles, requires economic resources that are not supplied under an open access model. If the cost of publication is to be borne by taking funds from the research grant, the result will be less money for research.


It is ASCE’s objective to advance the science and profession of engineering to enhance the welfare of humanity. As such, among its many endeavors, ASCE is the world's largest publisher of civil engineering information—producing more than 55,000 pages of technical content each year. The ASCE Publications Division produces 33 professional journals (available both in print and online editions), conference proceedings, standards, manuals of practice, committee reports, and monographs under the ASCE Press imprint. ASCE’s many other resources for practicing civil engineers include the 170,000-entry Civil Engineering Database, a complete publications catalog, and the ASCE Library, providing online access to over 700,000 pages of journal articles and proceedings papers.  

One-way ASCE, like other engineering and scientific societies, fulfills its role in the advancement of engineering by determining through the peer review process what is worthy of publication. The “value-added” by peer review is to ensure published work is of top quality. This process allows the results to be used more effectively by scientists, decision makers, students, and other concerned constituents. 

ASCE Policy Statement 538
First approved in 2012