Friday, August 1, 2008

Open Access?

I recently received an invitation to join the editorial board of a new journal called Algorithms, which claims to be an open access journal. Circumstantial evidence suggests the invitation was distributed to more than a handful of people. The list of people who have already accepted contains some established members of the community, as well as many names I have never heard before.

The main idea of this particular publisher is to have a publication model in which authors pay to get published (in the neighborhood of 1000 dollars!), and readers can access the papers for free on the Internet. Though you may choose to call this "open access," I profoundly dislike the name. As soon as you attach a big cost at either of the two ends of the business (publishing or reading), it stops being "open." It seems to me that we have another case of a creative publisher trying to scheme us into paying them large amounts of money for no value added.

You will not find my name on this editorial board.

While on the topic of open access, I must say that all my support is behind Theory of Computing. This wonderful initiative gives us a truly open access journal (zero cost for everyone), and a journal of superb quality. Based on articles published so far, I view ToC as being in the same constellation with SICOMP.

In the unlikely future universe in which I will not be overcommitted by several notches above the sanity level, I will be able to do things without deadlines. Then, I may write some journal papers without the deadlines/incentives of special issue, and I will try to send them to ToC.


Anonymous said...

You will not find my name on this editorial board.

I think this is the correct principled decision, although I can understand some other junior researchers' acceptance of the invitation because they feel pressured to beef up their vitae.

If you want more circumstantial evidence: I also received the invitation email, but (except for this comment) have been ignoring it as spam. It appears from the text of the invitation that the people listed as the "editorial board" have a purely ceremonial role (i.e. they do no work, they just lend their reputations to the journal) and the actual editors Haag and Lin have names I don't recognize, which gives me little confidence in the quality of the journal.

Anonymous said...

You agree to be on the editorial board, and then you write it on your CV. Your presence there gives the journal validity. Then anyone who wants to pad their CV can pay $1K to publish their paper in a journal that will have essentially zero quality control.

"Well written papers have been peer reviewed and published in less than two weeks from manuscript submission."

I really hope the people who did agree to "serve" on the editorial board just failed to read the fine print.

dot said...

"Salut! Ce face?"
Got the same email, ignored as spam as well. See a diatribe by Jeff Shallit after a similar journal:

Anonymous said...

Do you think this excellent site TOC can have an RSS feed for paper updates?

Mihai said...

Hush, hush, I am the one in charge of getting ToC an RSS feed. :P It's only 9 months overdue now.

CaptainSegfault said...

The point of journal publication is to advertise your results. An author-pays model seems inherently better than a reader-pays model, in that light. Compared to the time and energy I'd put into a paper, $1000 really isn't that much, particularly if it would get the paper a wider audience.

Paying for a rubber stamp journal is pointless, though -- I can get the same thing on ArXiV for free!

Anonymous said...

I don't think that journal publication is actually very effective as a way of advertising ones results — conference papers or direct email to the people one wants to learn about the results are more effective. For me, the purpose of journal publication is more (1) to encourage me to write a version of the paper that describes everything in full detail, after having been discouraged from doing so by the conference publishing process, (2) through refereeing to catch and fix a larger number of errors than I would on my own (I won't say, catch all the errors, because we all know how fallable refereeing is, but it's better than not refereeing), (3) to allow other authors to cite my paper in a way that lets readers of the citation find and read the full version of my paper.

Paying to publish is antithetical to (1), and (2) only works if the paper is actually properly refereed. I guess the open access nature of the new journal works with (3), though the fact that it's unlikely to be in Web of Science or other citation indexes is a drawback there.