Wednesday, March 04, 2009

How much does it cost to produce an online Journal? Do I hear $0.00?

***SORELLE***'s post pointed me to a post on Dense Outliers that suggests a free online Comp Geom Journal. The post wanted people to vote on whether this is a good idea.
  1. It wasn't quite a vote- it was YES if you thought there should be a free online CG journal AND you were strongly committed to it (I suppose willing to be editor or author). NO if you thought it was a bad idea, or NO BUT SOMEONE ELSE SHOULD (a good idea but you are not commited to it). I am so far removed from the community that I couldn't even vote NO BUT. (I will browse through ***SORELLE***'s Comp Geom Proceedings. The probability that I find an article I care about is 1/3--- every third year there is some article on Geometric Ramsey Theory.)
  2. Reading the post and talking to ***SORELLE*** my impression is that the poster and ***SORELLE*** think running an online journal costs $0.00. The reasoning goes that authors, referees, editors, all work for free. If the authors do their own typesetting and there is no print version then the cost should be $0.00. Is this true?
  3. A while back Elsevier had the editoiral board of Information and Computation (which I was on) meet in Boston to discuss the journal. From what they said I honestly believe that running a journal does cost money. How much is a fair question, but it does cost something. Running the computers where its all stored, maintaing stuff, does cost money. But I am not an expert on these things and I would like a commenter who is to comment on this.
  4. One obvious cost---Elsevier paid for our flights, hotel, and dinner at a really good resturant.
  5. There are three free on-line journals in math/tcs that I know of Electronic Journal of Combinatorics, Theory of Computing, and Chicago Journal of Theoretical Computer Science. If someone knows how they are doing, do they cost money to run, and if so how they get it, please comment. Also, are there others? How are they doing? Do they need money? Where does it come from?
  6. One advantage of an online journal, which Electronic Journal of Combinatorics has, is dynamic survey articles. That is, these are survey's that are updated over time. (My favorite: Ramsey Theory Applications. And no, I didn't write it.)


  1. There's also Contributions to Discrete Mathematics:

  2. I think this is not the right question to ask. I think the right question is the following: who could sponsor it?

    It does not need to be a lot of money. Perhaps just a permission to spend some fraction of your working hours to run the journal + basic IT resources (e.g., web hosting, IT support, backups (!), email accounts, mailing lists, conference calls, etc.) + a small yearly grant with which to cover other expenses (something as simple as having a DOI for each article might cost some money).

    Wouldn't Xyz University be happy to sponsor "Xyz Open Access Journal of this-and-that"? Cheap advertisement for any not-yet-that-well-known university. That would look great in annual reports, too.

    I would assume that having a sponsor is good even if you could run the journal for $0.00. The organisation would be interested in keeping the journal running even if unexpected things happen to the individuals who initiated the journal.

  3. Here's a long list of free electronic math journals

    I found it linked from John Baez's page "What We Can Do About Science Journals"
    that includes discussion about appropriate pricing, steps researchers can take to improve the situation, and links to detailed information, such as the price for all mathematics journals

  4. A free-access TCS journal that is doing fairly well is Logical Methods in Computer Science. I wish that more members of the TCS community submitted to that journal, which also publishes survey articles. See here.

    I agree with JS. It should be possible to find sponsors for open-access journals (and, why not, conference and workshop proceedings), and universities could play a very useful role there even in these times of hardship.

  5. Well for some electronic journal to be more than just a site that collects papers it needs a few things:

    1) Has to have an editorial board that runs the usual acceptance process. Easy.
    2) Editing. Printed journals have professional editors (not the scientific editors) that will help to make papers look better. This is probably expendable.
    2) Must guarantee that the papers stay accessible in their exact form (unless changes are desired in, say, a survey article), for basically forever. Many universities will be able to guarantee that they can host a website indefinitely, individuals and most companies will not (yes, even science publishers could easily go bancrupt, and I wouldn't be surprised if Elsevier would in fact run out of money in the future). Printed journals may be hard to access compared to online journals, but articles will not get lost completely as long as a sufficient number of libraries collect them. An electronic journal should guarantee the availability of its papers.

    I doubt the price of hosting and maintaining an electronic journal exceeds what a cs department can shell out if they really want to, after all they all have a website, and the amount of data and traffic are probably negligible.

  6. Running a journal does cost money. The free journals simply found a way to pass on the costs to someones(s). Elsevier, however, is motivated not by costs, but by profits.

  7. Anonymous said "Must guarantee that the papers stay accessible in their exact form (unless changes are desired in, say, a survey article), for basically forever".

    There already exists working solutions for this : pre-print archives. Websites like are already hosting PDF papers.

    In my humble opinion, the next electronic journals will be websites that helps people to manage a peer-review system.

    Just like this project :