Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Elsevier Happenings

Why do I remain on the editorial board of the Elsevier journal Information and Computation? Partly as loyalty to Albert Meyer, the long time editor-in-chief, who gave me my first major editorial position. But also because I believe that one can change some of the policies in Elsevier by talking to Elsevier instead of just boycotting them. And we've made some small progress. Elsevier papers are being (slowly) added to search sites like Google Scholar. And Elsevier recently announced a theoretical computer science student package, electronic access to a dozen theory-related journal for $50/year. Likely too little too late in reducing the bad will Elsevier has developed in recent years.

Among the dozen is the oddly-named Journal of Algorithms in Cognition, Informatics and Logic, a sort-of resurrection of the Journal of Algorithms whose editorial board resigned at the end of 2003. Given the new title, a manifesto and aims, the journal has moved mostly away from tradtional TCS algorithms for a more logic and AI focus. Hal Gabow tells more including how, without their knowledge, many people from our community, including some previous Journal of Algorithms editors, were mentioned as supposedly connected to this new incarnation.

A similar story happened with the Journal of Logic Programming whose editorial board had resigned in 1999 and whose journal was remade as the Journal of Logic and Algebraic Programming.

The last issue of J. Alg was volume 62 number 2. The first issue of JACIL is volume 62 number 3, so JACIL is officially just a continuation of the Journal of Algorithms. Given the vastly different editorial focus, why not just start it as a new journal? Partly to take advantage of the reputation of the former journal, but also to protect the back catalog, the valuable assets that Elsevier has in the many important papers that have years ago appeared in J. Alg and the other Elsevier theory journals.

But even for the theory journals that remain at Elsevier, like TCS, JCSS and I&C, one cannot help but notice an overall decline in the quality and quantity of the articles appearing over the last couple of years. One would hope that those missing strong papers are being sent to journals like Theory of Computing and the ACM Transactions on Algorithms and Computation Theory and a few have. But the controversies over journals are causing even greater numbers of authors in theory and throughout computer science not to bother writing journal versions of their conference papers. The main complaints about Elsevier relate to access, but no paper is less accessible than the paper not written.

Update 3/16/09 from the editors of JACIL

The Journal of Algorithms in Cognition, Informatics and Logic is severing its ties to Elsevier and is moving to a new publisher.

This is correct, but the preceding text in your blog gives the wrong impression of the correct standard procedures of setting up a journal that we have followed here. Our starting point was a substantial list of editors (about 50) from the logic and cognition communities who had accepted to be on the board of the new journal. To this we added additional names from the algorithms community and then sent a formal letter of invitation to all names on the list. The letter and attached list were private and we made it clear that this were invited editors, but included those names who had already accepted. This is common practice, and such lists always remain private until the process is complete. Unfortunately someone (most likely from the algorithms community) made it public and it ended up on your web page.

The misunderstandings and grievances generated by these actions need to be corrected, now that our community has withdrawn the journal from Elsevier, as a consequence of a report by one of our members John Lloyd.

We would therefore be grateful, if you append this entire letter to your blog

Dov Gabbay and Jörg Siekmann

1 comment:

  1. a dozen theory-related journal for $50/year

    Who came up with this original idea? Maybe I am missing something basic here, but for students in most/bigger universities this deal is not necessary, and for others it is probably too expensive anyway.