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Antony Lewis



Joined: 23 Sep 2004
Posts: 862
Affiliation: University of Sussex

PostPosted: June 19 2005  Reply with quote

I am starting a new topic to discuss the specifc idea of arxiv-based open access peer-reviewed Open Journals. See the demo website

http://www.arxivjournal.org/

for a summary of a summary of key points in the original topic.

I think this at least deserves careful consideration. In particular:

* Are people happy with published papers being entirely author-typeset, or should funding be applied for to have this done more conventionally?

* Who would be best to run the project (arxiv? academics themselves (e.g. us)? another organization like PLOS?)

* How many prestigious people are in favour and would be prepared to put their name on an advisory panel?

* Should editors of conventional journals be persuaded to move to new journals running under the new model?

* Are there other non-arxiv eprint servers that could use such a system?

The only preprint archive I can find in chemisty seems to have closed. The medical/bio sites seem to be entirely from published journals, not author-submitted preprints (and already have quite well developed open access publications).

Incidentally PLOS may be open access, but standard author charges are $1500. The Open Journal model is still quite different!
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Sarah Bridle



Joined: 24 Sep 2004
Posts: 147
Affiliation: University College London (UCL)

PostPosted: June 20 2005  Reply with quote

Quote:

http://www.arxivjournal.org/

This software looks superficially really nice. It looks so nice it is tempting to imagine all the hard work is already done! You say it would need extensive work before it would be workable. What's your impression of how much there is to be done? Is the main thing establishing the possibility and credibility of the journal, or are there many hours/.../years of sorting out the software too?

Quote:

* Are people happy with published papers being entirely author-typeset, or should funding be applied for to have this done more conventionally?

I'm happy with doing my own typesetting.
Presumably the referees would have to say whether they think the typesetting (grammar etc) is OK as it is, or whether it needs to be improved to be acceptable. Would potential referees mind doing this?

Quote:

* Who would be best to run the project (arxiv? academics themselves (e.g. us)? another organization like PLOS?)

I don't see the benefit in having an external organisation running it.

Quote:

* Should editors of conventional journals be persuaded to move to new journals running under the new model?

Yes! Lets go and start asking them, and getting the opinions of additional senior people.


Last edited by Sarah Bridle on June 20 2005; edited 1 time in total
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Antony Lewis



Joined: 23 Sep 2004
Posts: 862
Affiliation: University of Sussex

PostPosted: June 20 2005  Reply with quote

Peter Suber has pointed out that "Open Journals" are well known in the open access movement as "overlay journals". However there are very few examples, and I think none in the physical sciences except "Advances in Theoretical and Mathematical Physics". The examples all seem to be run separately, with no well-automated running software, and many still seem to have printed versions and quite large subscription charges.

For claimed examples see

http://www.maths.warwick.ac.uk/gt/
http://www.intlpress.com/ATMP/articles.html
http://www.sm.luth.se/~norbert/home_journal/

and relevant links

http://www.researchinformation.info/rimayjun05djmodel.html
https://mx2.arl.org/Lists/SPARC-OAForum/Message/1541.html
http://makeashorterlink.com/?G5CB2194B

As for work on the journal software, I'd imagine a fairly minimal implementation would take the equivalent of a week or so full time - I might have some time while I'm unemployed in August. Persuading people and setting up editorial/advisory boards is certainly more important than (in principle) trivial coding work.
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Anze Slosar



Joined: 24 Sep 2004
Posts: 203
Affiliation: Brookhaven National Laboratory

PostPosted: June 20 2005  Reply with quote

Antony Lewis wrote:
As for work on the journal software, I'd imagine a fairly minimal implementation would take the equivalent of a week or so full time - I might have some time while I'm unemployed in August. Persuading people and setting up editorial/advisory boards is certainly more important than (in principle) trivial coding work.


Maybe we should set up a more formal initiative and draft a formal letter (to be signed by a non negligible number of people active in the field) and select a limited pool of cheeses to which to send it to. There is always scope for personal lobbying but a formal request will have to be sent sooner or later.

I don't know exactly how the ordinary journals work (i.e the number of people on various positions), but I would ask them if they would be happy to be on editorial board, which I guess is the most difficult part of the plan.

Wrt. to copy-editting: the more I think about it the more I think it would be neccessary to professionally copy-edit every submission and ask referees to take some part in the production process (i.e. say this figure needs bigger symbols, etc.): it would just make everything look much more professional. Also, it would be good if someone produced a nice and distinct latex template. How to pay for this I am not sure, maybe by authors, but then again, PRD and MNRAS are absolutely free as far as authors are concerned.
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Samuel Leach



Joined: 15 Oct 2004
Posts: 16
Affiliation: SISSA, Trieste

PostPosted: June 22 2005  Reply with quote

I was just rereading some old SPARC Open Access newsletters from Peter Suber, and in the past he's made the distinction between the content, infrastructure, prestige and quality of a journal; the best journals ought to posess all four. Wouldn't an initiative like the Open Journal be best placed to start with modest goals by working on aspects of the infrastructure and prestige, as roads leading to OA ?

- Like Antony said, there are very few examples of working Overlay Journals in our field so OJAP could serve as a working example, reinforcing the activities of the arxiv.

- There certainly must be plenty of scope for well-designed user-orientated and automated services for the community which nobody else is providing adequately. Day to day stuff. The filter implemented in CosmoCoffee is a great start. To what extent can additional information be harvested off the arxiv, say from the latex source itself ?

- Perhaps the site could provide different content according to user tastes: say depending on whether you're (most likely) a student, postdoc, librarian, funding agency, or have some other interest in the OA model.

- Wouldn't the move towards full Journal status with a refereeing and typesetting process only come later once these sort of things are off the ground and a commitment to OA has been demonstrated ?

The template is looking good so far. Clean and professional.
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Anonymous






PostPosted: June 22 2005  Reply with quote

Samuel Leach wrote:
- Wouldn't the move towards full Journal status with a refereeing and typesetting process only come later once these sort of things are off the ground and a commitment to OA has been demonstrated ?


I don't think I agree with that... Refereeing and typesetting are the main difference between a Journal and astro-ph. I don't think you can offer people something half-baked, saying, yes, you can submit your papers here, but actually we don't have a refereeing system yet... I feel that the coding part is less crucial for this to actually work (besides, Antony will have plenty of time this summer ;-) )
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Andrew Jaffe



Joined: 25 Sep 2004
Posts: 7
Affiliation: Imperial College

PostPosted: June 28 2005  Reply with quote

Samuel Leach wrote:
-Refereeing and typesetting are the main difference between a Journal and astro-ph.

I agree with Sam; the hard part will be getting people involved – as authors, referees and editors – not the technical issues.

Perhaps there's stuff going on in the background, but if not, it would be a shame to see this idea die. There are kinks to be ironed out, but we mustn't, as they say, let the great be the enemy of the good. So, let me say "out loud" that I volunteer to help...
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Sarah Bridle



Joined: 24 Sep 2004
Posts: 147
Affiliation: University College London (UCL)

PostPosted: June 28 2005  Reply with quote

I agree with Andrew. I've been chatting to a few people about it, great if others can do the same. Perhaps not surprisingly, most people don't know anything about the costs of journals (I didn't until a couple of weeks ago). So perhaps it is useful to compile a list here so people don't have to trawl the web pages to find out. I've only checked out two so far:

* MNRAS http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/cservices/pricelist.pdf
A standard annual subscription appears to be 2,913 in Europe $5,383 in the Americas and 3,204 elsewhere. In case you were wondering whether it would be cheaper to cancel the hardcopies: "Blackwell Publishing titles that are available online can also be bought at the discounted fee of 95% of the standard subscription price."
I'm assuming this is how much each university library is paying. I'd be interested to know if not.

* JCAP is entirely electronic, and published by the Institute of Physics, and is 750 pounds per year.

Great if anyone would like to add to the list.

One problem is convincing people that it is actually feasible. e.g. what if there are computer problems; what if there is loads of admin we haven't thought of. I admit I don't have great answers to these questions at the moment. But it is clearly something that would have to be checked out thoroughly in advance of launching anything.

Thanks very much to Prasenjit Saha for pointing out this fascinating letter by Donald Knuth to fellow members of an editorial board: http://www-cs-faculty.stanford.edu/~knuth/joalet.pdf which is very pertinent indeed.
If you only have a short amount of time, read from halfway down page 11 onwards (although you may then be hooked and have to read the first 11 pages too..!)

I find these bits the most relevant to our discussion:

* "Krzysztof Apt, ... in Communications of the ACM 44, 5 (May 2001), 25−28 ... [, concluded] that computer scientists were lagging behind other fields – observing, for example, that more than 11,000 scientists from biomedicine had signed an open letter pledging that 'beginning in September 2001, we will publish in, edit or review for, and personally subscribe to, only those scholarly and scientific journals that have agreed to grant unrestricted free distribution rights to any and all original research reports they have published.'"
I had been taking it for granted that we are able to put our papers on the arxiv, but it seems we should be grateful to the publishers for allowing us to do this.

* There are some intruiging comments at the bottom of page 5/ top of page 6 about how the journal "Geometry and Topology" works with arXiv to archive their publication. I don't quite understand whether this is the same or different to Antony's suggestion. Quoting from paragraph 2 page 6 "Rourke [co-founder of G&T, quoted by Birman in Notices of the AMS 47, 7 (Aug 2000), 770−774] observed, 'At the very least LANL seems as secure in its future as the commercial publishers.'"

* He points out the Public Knowledge Project software which Antony used to set up the above website.

* He also says: "It's the principle of the thing: I don't want to be responsible for any money that is being spent to keep our research proprietary. ... we are essentially donating content so that we and others can be charged for accessing it."

* On page 13 he quotes from an email sent to him by Jim Pitman: "'I think the model we should aim for with our journals is this: Set up the production to be efficient enough that the organization producing the journal can afford to post electronic copies of final versions of papers, for free online access via arXiv or similar ... If you are willing to sacrafice typographical quality just a little, i.e., let authors provide final TEX, there is no question you can support electronic production on zero cash flow. EJP/ECP proves this.'" Knuth adds: "He means the 'Electronic Journal of Probability' and 'Electronic Communications in Probability', hosted by the University of Washington math department: see www.emis.de/journals/EJP-ECP"
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Christopher Gordon



Joined: 27 Sep 2004
Posts: 15
Affiliation: University of Canterbury

PostPosted: June 28 2005  Reply with quote

Hi,

An interesting article related to this discussion by Michael Peskin can be seen at: http://www.slac.stanford.edu/~mpeskin/APS-pubs/APS-pubs.pdf

Chris
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Anonymous






PostPosted: June 29 2005  Reply with quote

Here are some more general links worth knowing about:

- Recent news about the RCUK (Research Councils UK umbrella group) position on Access to Research Outputs:

http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/access/index.asp

From the covering note of the website above:

"Specifically, [RCUK] proposes to:

* Require for all grants awarded from 1 October 2005 that, subject to copyright and licensing arrangements, a copy of any resultant published journal articles or conference proceedings should be deposited in an appropriate e-print repository (either institutional or subject-based) wherever such a repository is available to the award-holder. Deposit should take place at the earliest opportunity, wherever possible at or around the time of publication.
* Research Councils will also encourage, but not formally oblige, award-holders to deposit articles arising from grants awarded before 1 October 2005.
* Councils will ensure that applicants for grants are allowed, subject to justification of cost-effectiveness, to include in the costing of their projects the predicted costs of any publication in author-pays journals."

Broadly speaking, the main document is signalling that much more e-print infrastructure will be built up over time, and that funders will start to make more demands on researchers about the way in which their research is disseminated. There's a whole bunch of initiatives in there too. The document is not set in stone yet, with the consultation period ending August 31st 2005.

- Directory of OA Journals:
http://www.doaj.org/
which has some astrophysics content.
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Samuel Leach



Joined: 15 Oct 2004
Posts: 16
Affiliation: SISSA, Trieste

PostPosted: June 29 2005  Reply with quote

Sorry, that last anonymous post was from me.
-Sam Leach
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Sarah Bridle



Joined: 24 Sep 2004
Posts: 147
Affiliation: University College London (UCL)

PostPosted: June 29 2005  Reply with quote

I just noticed this page about the journals of the Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMS) http://www.imstat.org/publications/arxiv.html in which it explains that its own journals self-post to arxiv, to ensure open access to all of their articles! Could we persuade MNRAS etc to do/update our arxiv postings for us?! Would this then solve the open access issue? (And then we could tell our libraries to stop subscribing).

But I still don't understand how the journals would expect to remain financially viable. IMS do address this on the above page, saying that libraries have indicated they would still subscribe to the IMS journals, because of involvement in Project Euclid (which I guess astronomy journals are not a member of?) which provides such a nice interface that people just won't be happy with arxiv. I find this hard to imagine (but I admit I haven't tried it).
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Samuel Leach



Joined: 15 Oct 2004
Posts: 16
Affiliation: SISSA, Trieste

PostPosted: June 30 2005  Reply with quote

That's an interesting move by the IMS, which goes much further than back-archiving onto a subscriptions service like JSTOR. Being some kind of Learned Society they must have many other revenue streams including membership and advocacy charges. I admit that I never heard of them before, but presumably the back-archiving move is designed precisely to raise their visibility and further their interests.
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Sarah Bridle



Joined: 24 Sep 2004
Posts: 147
Affiliation: University College London (UCL)

PostPosted: August 01 2005  Reply with quote

I just heard about a well respected existing free journal, the Journal of Machine Learning Research http://jmlr.csail.mit.edu/

It is interesting to see that this kind of thing can work, while being free to submit to, free to view, and with high impact factors. In particular, it seems that the journal provides no copyediting, and yet works well.
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Boud Roukema



Joined: 24 Feb 2005
Posts: 81
Affiliation: Torun Centre for Astronomy, University of Nicolaus Copernicus

PostPosted: September 07 2005  Reply with quote

I just want to link these three threads together, hopefully the software won't complain about self-links :P

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