Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Are these journals real?

Consider the following email I got:

Dear Professor,
 1. Antarctica Journal of Mathematics
 2. ArchimedesJournal of Mathematics
 3. BesselJournal of Mathematics
 We are charging only $3 per page,
 which is very cheap when compared to
 other money oriented journals.
 Further we request you to withdraw your paper,
 if you have already submitted it to any money
 oriented journal.  You can submit your research
 papers to our online journals.
 We also consider paper from
 Statistics and Computer Science.

What is going on here? Possibilities:
  1. The journals are fake. They are part of an April Fool's Day joke. Using BesselJournal and ArchimedesJournal, with no space in the obvious place, (not typos by me- this is what the email said) might have been a clue that they were jokes.
  2. The Antarctica journal is real and is a reaction to the notion that we shouldn't hold conferences or workshops in places where there are human rights violations. (See here.)
  3. The Antarctica journal is real and is a reaction to the notion that whenever you have a conference the locals get to go cheap; this conference will be equally expensive to all (or to most). (See here.)
  4. The journals are real. The Antarctica Journal of Mathematics was founded because all continents except Antarctica had journals and the founders thought this was unfair.
The last option is the correct one. I am not surprised- the journals have to be real since the titles are not quite funny enough to be a joke. Antarctica Journal of Mathematics sounds fictional, like The University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople, but it is not. The Antarctica Journal's website has real articles on it and seems to have been publishing since 2004.

In some fields it is standard to pay-to-publish. Older faculty used to tell me about page-charges for journals in our field, in much older times, (and I think grants mostly paid for it) but I have never seen them in my academic lifetime (in math and TCS). (Exception: a few conferences, though not many.) Different fields evolve in different ways, and I do not claim to know what the best approach is. However, since in our field (Math, TCS) it is standard to NOT have page-charges (I do not know of any journal that does this, and I know of only a few conferences that do) it seems odd to ask you to compare their journal with other money oriented journals. Are there other ones in mathematics?


  1. Please stop using spam emails as blog posts.

  2. I use that email as a starting point for other issues:

    Are there any other math journals that are pay-to-publish?

    How do you judge the quality of a journal?

    (you are assuming its a bad journal- can you prove that?)

    Why do other fields have respectible pay-to-publish
    and we do not?

    When did our field change away from that?

    I AGREE that the original email I got is not that interesting, but I am trying to use it as a starting point for an interesting dialogue. You can help by
    posting your reasons for thinking it was spam.

  3. Doesn't TCS have de facto pay-to-publish? My understanding is the following:

    1. TCS publishes primarily in conferences, eg STOC, FOCS, CCC.

    2. Authors of accepted papers must attend the conference (to present).

    3. These conferences have significant registration fees.

    If I'm incorrect about any of the above three claims, please let me know. (My knowledge is first-hand, from publishing in a TCS conference.)

  4. The Antarctica Journal's website...


  5. Bill, you've been around as long as I have in the field and you must have just forgotten.

    In the 1980's journals like SICOMP had page charges BUT they were essentially optional. You got a bill that you could safely ignore. Typically, these were paid by authors at research labs and those with very flush grants but most authors did not pay them at all. If you did not pay the page charges then you got the minimum # of reprints (25 or maybe even 50) but if you paid them then you'd get at least 100. I never paid them myself but I had a co-author who did one or two occasions. (In the day it was typical to mail off these copies to people on your citation list as well as a number of others, though I admit that I only did it when my co-authors arranged it.)

    In 1987 when I was writing my first grant proposal I looked over some samples of grants. There was always a line for "publication costs" which was small in my proposals (maybe $500) but much bigger for senor people and typically covered duplication, mailing, and page charges.

    Here's an idea of how different NSF funding was at the time: It had been typical up to that year that an ordinary three-year grant for a strong senior theory faculty member would include:
    = Two students (versus one for someone junior)
    = Travel funding for three conferences per year: STOC, FOCS, and foreign travel to ICALP
    = Several thousand in publication costs that would cover page charges among other things.
    I saw samples of more than one successful proposal with these parameters.

    However, the number of theory researchers was straining the system. In 1987 NSF program director Carl Smith commented on the 'dismal' state of theory funding for several year and announced that, in order to spread funding more broadly, things were going to change dramatically. (His Funding Guidelines are preserved in the summer of 1987 SIGACT News.) He instituted a $100K cap on grants and wrote:

    "The funding of graduate students will be high priority, just after funding summer salaries and modest travel. However, no one with less than four years of experience past a PhD will be given funds to support a graduate student. Only researchers with a proven history of producing PhDs at their current institution will receive funding for more than one graduate student. Extraordinary reviews and explanations will be needed to obtain funding for three graduate students."

    (I recall that student funding was generally summer funding only, but I don't see that noted.) Publication costs would be bundled with travel and subject to a $1500-$3500 cap and foreign travel would essentially be eliminated. This effectively eliminated any money for page charges.

    It is worth pointing out the overall funding situation: At that time there was roughly $2 million available for new grants and the goal was to support 100 theory researchers in total including continuing grants. In the fall of 1988 SIGACT News Carl Smith pointed out that theory had 11-14% of all NSF CS funding and had by far the largest number of proposals. This was before the creation of CISE, I believe.

    I wonder how many people have NSF theory funding now?

  6. Anon Rex raises a good point- about conferences REQUIREING
    you to be there, hence having what was called `page charges' but different name.

    1) I don't know if an author is REQUIRED to be there.
    Sometimes (though rarely) someone gives the talk FOR THEM.
    But YES, it is a very very strong custom that one of the
    authors has to be there to calle it mandatory.

    2) The registation fees are high (a topic that has already
    been discussed in other blogs) but page fees were actually even higher. (when you factor in travel then
    not sure).

    3) Conferences are the main venue, however, you CAN
    just publish on arXiv or even in... what are they called again... oh yeah, journals or something like that. STILL, Anon Rex - you raise a good point.

  7. Regardless of whether the journals are real or not, I consider the "if you're submitted it elsewhere, withdraw it and submit it here instead" suggestion to be pretty unethical.

    Who knows how much work some referee's already put into your paper by the time you withdraw it?

  8. Please let Paul Beame do a guest blog! I would love to hear more about the topic of NSF funding for theory.

  9. I second the previous anonymous.

  10. I call the "Saturn Journal of Mathematics". We're now having a special, 1 cent for the first word, 2 cents for the second, 4 for the third, etc ...


  11. I'm wondering how the fact that ACM has page charges for its journals went unmentioned (they use the model that Paul Beame described re SICOMP). And yet, I would not call the ACM journals "money oriented", and I think that they maintain a high quality. But when I am short of funds I do think twice before submitting to an ACM journal.
    On the point of conferences, there are conferences which do explicitly require an author to register. Example: ETAPS,
    Ad "how would you prove that a journal is bad": here is one means of doing so (worked for a conference, apparently).