Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Journal Manifesto 2.0

Reminder: FOCS early registration deadline today. Go here

Below is a revised version of the Journal Manifesto. I restate the key sentence from my last post and then redo the manifesto in light of the (very enlightening!) comments that my last post got.
However, I have a Manifesto: a list of actions that we as individuals can do to make the academic world a better place.
Keep in mind: I am NOT talking to the NSF or to Journal publishes or to Conference organizers. I am NOT going to say what any of these people should do. I am talking to US, the authors of papers. If WE all follow this manifesto then the problems of high priced journals and limited access may partially go away on their own. To be briefer: To the extend that WE are the problem, WE can be the solution.

REQUEST: Leave as comments a simple YES if you agree with the manifesto and a NO and a reason if you do not. I may set this up as a formal online thing that people can sign off on if there is enough interest.

Preamble: We academics publish papers so they can be read. We want anyone in the world to be able to read our papers. We do not expect any money in exchange. Here is what we can all do to facilitate this, not just for our papers but for everyones papers.
  1. Whenever you publish a paper in a conference or journal, post it on your website AND on some appropriate archive. Also post improvements if there are some (the version on your website may be better than the one in the journal!). You would think this is standard practice by now, but alas, it is not. In particular AS SOON AS YOU SUBMIT the final version to a conference it should go on your website. The fact that 12 papers from FOCS 2009 are still not online shows that there is plenty of improvement to be made on our end.
  2. If you give a talk on a paper then post the slides and if possible a video of the talk, along with the paper, on your website. On the archives perhaps post a link to the slides and video.
  3. If you have old papers that are not available on line (it is common go to a website and see only papers past, say, 1995, are online) then get them scanned in (some schools do this for you) and put them on your website. Do not be humble. That is, do not think Nobody cares about that old paper. Somebody might.
  4. If you goto a website and it has a link to a paper, but the link does not work, then email the website owner. Do not be shy. I have done this with some of the best people in our field and they have been grateful.
  5. When you write a paper make sure that all of the bibliography entries include all links where the paper is available: the journal website, the authors website, some archives. If people follow items 1,2,3,4 above then the issue of What if the journals is not online? will become irrelevant. There may still be a problem with older articles; however, this will also become irrelevant over time.
  6. If you gather up papers in an area for your own use, then you may want to make a website out of them. I have done this with the Erdos Distance Problem, Private Information Retrieval, Constructive lower bounds on Ramsey Numbers, Applications of Ramsey Theory, and of course VDW Theorem stuff. There may be some legal issues here, and also some issues of what the publishers will enforce. I have no guidelines to offer, so I leave it to you. However, I will note that I've had my {\it applications of Ramsey Theory} site up for at least 5 years with no problem. Also, not that this point is optional. I suspect that, more than the other items, its one that people think other people should do. (I understand that it can be a pain in the neck to maintain such sites.) THIS ITEM IS OPTIONAL.
  7. If you get a contract to write a book make sure they allow you to post it free online. Blown to Bits, by Abelson, Ledeen, and Lewis is available this way. So is A=B by Petkovsek, Wilf, and Zeilberger. (I understand that if you are writing an undergrad textbook and expect to make real money on it then you may not want to do this.)


  1. I do have a small problem with putting hyperlinks to all papers I cite.

    I understand the purpose of it all, and it feels like a nice idea, in principle, but I need to think about the consequences.

  2. Yes, except that for #5 I don't see the point of including more than one link (the most free and permanent of them, arXiv if possible). And as for posting my papers on my own web site and on an archive: I post a link to the archive version on my web site; I don't see the point of hosting a separate copy (in particular, that's one more copy that could get out of synch with the others after later revisions).

  3. Yes, except that I agree with the previous commenter that it is unnecessary to post versions on your own website provided you post a link to a free version on an archive.

    Also, I only agree up to the point that it is legal to follow the manifesto. If older papers were published under a restrictive copyright agreement such that I do not have the legal right to post them then I will not break the law in order to do so. This especially applies to no. 6, which may be illegal in many cases. Of course, I can always ask the publishers for permission, but if it is not granted then I am not going to break the law.

    Personally, I would also add a couple of additional items to the manifesto:

    - Where possible, publish in open-access journals, but failing that publish in a journal that grants the explicit legal right to publish a free version somewhere, i.e. rather than one that simply turns a blind eye.

    - Do not enter into embargo agreements, e.g. some journals require you not to post a free version of the paper for six months after publication or not to post to the arXiv until the journal version has appeared. Unfortunately, Nature has such a policy at the moment, so I imagine quite a few people would be reluctant to sign up to this.

  4. I say to post it in many places since you do not know which sites will eventually be shut down.

    Since some people still have problems with it, and i don't want to post a third time on this topic,
    I leave it to one of my readers to craft a manifesto that everyone can sign off on. I hope it is not too watered down.

    bill g.

  5. Bill, YES, I agree with the manifesto.

    Now we just need to get our own University to agree to a principle of academic openness - a resolution to encourage (rather than require) open-access publishing has failed in our Senate earlier this Spring.

  6. Here is my attempt at the same thing:

  7. 1) I absolutely support Daniel Lemire's MANIFESTO.

    2) There has been some questions both on his blog and mine about legality.
    Here is a question about practicality: Has anyone ever been told to take something off of arXiv?
    Their own website?
    I honestly do not know.

  8. Has anyone been sued (or been issued a warning) by a commercial publisher for copyright violation?

  9. I think the idea merits being pursued a bit further, and so I have copied Bill's text into this document that anyone can edit. Perhaps we can take it from there?

  10. Has anyone been sued (or been issued a warning) by a commercial publisher for copyright violation?

    Being sued isn't a likely outcome. It's too expensive and would risk a backlash. In the US, the most likely scenario is a DMCA takedown order. At that point your university or ISP will force you to take it down. I've heard of cases involving large book collections, but not research papers on an individual web page. I hope we never get to that point.

  11. The "we don't expect to be paid" part seems disingenuous, since in fact you *do* get paid for it. How many people publish research without a research-type job?

  12. The "we don't expect to be paid" part seems disingenuous, since in fact you *do* get paid for it. How many people publish research without a research-type job?

    It feels silly to say that David Eppstein writes papers for money. I'm pretty sure he writes papers because he likes it. He would not get fired even if he stopped.

    (I take his example because he is quite prolific, but you get my point.)

  13. Yes.

    I would personaly add an important point as reproductible research must be make as easy as possible :

    - when possible, put the code and data used to produce the results on a personal website.

    more restrictive :
    - when possible, use open-source software to produce results.

    Reproductible research must be encouraged

  14. Why bother with links? As long as the paper is online is some reasonably visible place, won't Google do the rest?

  15. (1) I support the manifesto.

    (2) Frédéric Morain-Nicolier is IMHO absolutely right about open-source software tools and algorithms.

    (3) When I go to synthetic biology research meetings, it is clear that this community is purposefully planning to accelerate the pace and expand the scope of synthetic biomedical research---which nowadays has a central algorithmic and informatic component---by factors of up to one million.

    A factor of one million is a *large* factor --- by the standards of the 1970s (not so long ago), my present laptop has five hundred million dollars worth of memory in it ... in consequence of a similar million-fold expansion in the pace and scope of computational capabilities.

    Without (myself) knowing any of the answers, it seems possible that the pace and scope of the scientific enterprise is accelerating so dramatically, that this manifesto falls far short of addressing the radical changes that are already upon us.

    None-the-less, I endorse it!

  16. YES, I mostly agree. Although I don't think it's carefully thought out enough (or debated enough) for me to put my name to it in writing, or the digital equivalent.

    Also, there's a typo (grammar-o?) under #5:
    What if the journals is not online?