Friday, August 12, 2005

Information and Computation

Elsevier is opening up I&C for the rest of the year.
The Publisher and Editorial Board of Information and Computation are pleased to announce that for one year, effective immediately, online access to all journal issues back to 1995 will be available without charge. This includes unrestricted downloading of articles in pdf format. Journal articles may be obtained through the journal's web site or Elsevier's ScienceDirect.

At the end of the year, the retrieval traffic during the open access period will be evaluated as future subscription policies are considered.

Albert R. Meyer, Editor-in-Chief, MIT Computer Science & AI Lab
Chris Leonard, Publishing Editor, Elsevier
Moshe Vardi, Associate Editor, Rice University

I should note I am a member of the I&C editorial board.

A good place to start reading is the top 25 downloaded articles.


  1. While this is a nice move, this does not change the fact that Elsevier is way overcharging for subscription to their journals. Till this changes, submitting to ACM or IEEE journals (and not submitting to Elsevier jouransl) is a better move.

    And anyway, most of the papers since 95 are available online already....

  2. Indeed very good news for scientists - and we might consider to say thanks to the (former) editorial board of JoA: The question raises whether Elsevier would have granted free access without the famous JoA editor's public letter.

  3. There is another problem with Elsevier - the last time I heard they do not allow Google Scholar to index articles in their publications. This means that in some sense an article published in an Elsevier journal does not exist as much as an article published elsewhere (though having a web-version on your homepage may mitigate this somewhat).

  4. It still seems facile to me, maybe even fatuous, to single out Elsevier for criticism. First, Elsevier is not all of the problem, or even most of the problem. (According to Odlyzko, university libraries are a big part of the problem, but I rarely see people criticize them.) Second, at least Chris Leonard has been polite on his blog. Maybe what is charm to one audience is smarm to another, but I give Leonard the benefit of the doubt. Either way, I don't think that it's healthy to just perpetually condemn Elsevier.

    But I do think that there are some major structural problems in scholarly communication. I also think that these structural problems allow journals to be more expensive. That includes Elsevier's journals, even if (as Leonard points out) they are not quite the most expensive. (Maybe the litany of complaints, combined with Elsevier's dominant and exposed position, have been a brake on its prices.) Actually, if the structural problems were solved, I am not sure what market would be left for subscription journals. After all, Microsoft does not sell a product intended for TeX users.

    On that note, I think that the only lasting solution is for academia to build a new and better structure of scholarly communication. I concede that the arXiv is not a complete solution, since it does not have a peer review structure. But I think that it is a good start.

  5. Concerning lasting solutions for structural problems in academic communication, have a look at biomedcentral. They do have mild page charges, or alternatively an institutional membership policy. Essentially for free access, they offer a long list highly reputed journals (e.g. BMC Bioinformatics, one of the highest ranked journals in its field). Their "secret" recipe certainly is based on minimum, very efficient administration as well as lean and yet good copy editing (have you ever had your LaTeX sources "improved" by one of the big publishing companies?).