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Una rivista ad accesso aperto, senza costi per gli autori e di alta qualità: la storia del “Journal of Machine Learning Research”

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«Times have changed. Articles now circulate easily via the Internet, but unfortunately MLJ publications are under restricted access. […] In summary, our resignation from the editorial board of MLJ reflects our belief that journals should principally serve the needs of the intellectual community, in particular by providing the immediate and universal access to journal articles that modern technology supports, and doing so at a cost that excludes no one.» Questa lettera di dimissioni, firmata dalla maggioranza degli editor della rivista Machine Learning (Kluwer ), sancì la nascita del Journal of Machine Learning Research, una rivista open access, subito accreditatasi tra le più qualificate sedi di pubblicazione per le ricerche nel settore del machine learning. Una vicenda che risale al 2000, ma che, ad anni di distanza, non cessa di far discutere. Come quando nel 2011 Kent Anderson (Scholarly Kitchen) mise in dubbio la sostenibilità di riviste open access e senza costi per gli autori. «In my field (computer science) one of the most prominent journals is entirely free and open access (Journal of Machine Learning Research)» fu la secca replica di Yann LeCun. Ne nacque una discussione, proseguita sul blog di Stuart Shieber, che appare emblematica sotto diversi aspetti e di cui proveremo a riassumere i punti salienti.

Conferenza AISA (Associazione Italiana per la promozione della Scienza Aperta), ospitata dal Dipartimento di Scienze Politiche dell'Università di Pisa, dal titolo Publishing without perishing? La scienza aperta all’epoca della valutazione della ricerca (link is external), con gli interventi di Alberto Baccini (Università di Siena), Roberto Caso (Università di Trento), Giuseppe De Nicolao (Università di Pavia) e Paola Galimberti (Università di Milano) e con la partecipazione di Paolo Rossi (Università di Pisa) in veste di discussant. Giovedì 19 gennaio 2017 dalle ore 15 in aula 2, Polo Piagge

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Una rivista ad accesso aperto, senza costi per gli autori e di alta qualità: la storia del “Journal of Machine Learning Research”

  1. 1. Una rivista ad accesso aperto, senza costi per gli autori e di alta qualità: la storia del “Journal of Machine Learning Research” Giuseppe De Nicolao Università di Pavia Publishing without perishing? La scienza aperta all’epoca della valutazionedella ricerca 19 gennaio 2017 Dipartimento di Scienze politiche Università di Pisa
  2. 2. K. Anderson’s view: • Librarians = Intelligent players who have secured excellent, sustainable deals • Scientists = Altruistic, pragmatic types wo know rewards will come • Publishers = The nexus for highly specialized professionals who help other highly specialized professionals craft information for small, exclusive audiences of highly specialized professionals
  3. 3. «The best publications in my field are not only open access, but completely free to the readers *and* to the authors»
  4. 4. October 8, 2001: «Times have changed» (1/2) [...]
  5. 5. [...] October 8, 2001: «Times have changed» (1/2)
  6. 6. «Open Access, completely free, supported by libraries that purchase the print version»
  7. 7. «You seem to believe in fairies ... computers cost money to run, editors get paid, and webmasters get paid »
  8. 8. «You should look at yourself in the mirror and ask why you don’t understand even the most basic financial realities»
  9. 9. «the journal does not charge any submission or publication fee» • The journal does not charge any submission or publication fees and has never done so. • By far the largest costs are the labor required for peer reviewing and its management by the editorial board, but this is all volunteer effort as in most all scholarly journals. Kaelbling’s administrative assistant at MIT does a small amount of work for the journal, amounting to a few hours per year. • The webmaster is a student volunteer. MIT provides the web server, saving JMLR tens of dollars per month. Kaelbling has paid for the domain name jmlr.org out of her own pocket. The going rate for .org domains is about $15 per year. • For accepted articles that require large amounts of language help, the authors are requested to find copy-editing help at their expense; such cases are extremely rare.
  10. 10. «a reasonable estimate for total direct costs is about $6.50 per article» • As for the typesetting, computer science authors typically use the open- source LaTeX typesetting system. Thus, total cost for copy-editing and typesetting is zero. • The biggest expense is paying a tax accountant to maintain tax exempt status, etc. • JMLR has always appeared both free online and by subscription in print. MIT Press kept a subscription fee of just under 30 cents per page. Under Microtome, the subscription cost decreased settling at 8 cents per page. • Adding it all up, a reasonable imputed estimate for JMLR’s total direct costs is about $6.50 per article.
  11. 11. Questions by K. Anderson
  12. 12. Replies by S.M. Shieber 1.How much did Microtome Publishing make in revenues in 2011? Not very much, but enough to cover all its expenses and my time. Surely you’re not insinuating that I’m gouging the customers at $.08 per page What was it’s margin on these revenues? Who kept this money? Where did it go? I kept the money. It went into my pocket, as sole proprietor. 2. Do the people you’re raising money from, a) get a tax deduction and b) know that there’s a printing subsidiary run by you on the side? Microtome is not a “subsidiary” of JMLR, Inc. The two are completely separate entities (a)As a sole proprietorship Microtome hasn’t raised any money from anyone (b) The relationship between JMLR and Microtome is made explicit on the front page of the JMLR web site: 3. How do UCSD, Southern Louisiana, and the University of Minnesota cover the costs of their people serving in roles on this journal? Are there contracts? Or is it all voluntary? You’d have to ask them, but my guess is that they cover these people serving in these roles just as they and other universities cover so many of us as reviewers and editorial board members for so many journals published by commercial or non-profit publishers 4. How do you explain that your organization’s tax-exempt status was revoked? My organization, Microtome Publishing, is and has always been a sole proprietorship, not a non-profit organization. JMLR, Inc. is a non-profit. I understand from Professor Kaelbling that they were late filing their annual report.
  13. 13. «It’s nice there’s a little journal like this in computer science, floating papers, getting an impact factor, and so forth»
  14. 14. Reply: The “little journal” ranks better than the jounal of which K. Anderson is CEO
  15. 15. It’s pretty clear who’s stealing from who It looks like I can purchase an archival quality print of an entire year’s worth of JMLR articles for ~$240. OR I could go to a ‘mainstream’ publisher and spend $50 for a pdf of a single article. Or [...] I can submit [a paper] to a ‘mainstream’ publisher, pay a fee for things like color images and excess pages, and pay something like $2,000 to allow other people to access the pdf’s for free. It’s pretty clear who’s stealing from who in this system.
  16. 16. «Does JMLR’s success mean that all journals could run this way?» Does JMLR’s success and efficiency mean that all journals could run this way? Of course not. 1.Computer scientists possess all of the technological expertise required to operate an online journal 2.The level of volunteerism that JMLR relies on is atypical. – As authors, computer scientists are accustomed to performing their own typesetting – JMLR reviewers are relied on for whatever copy-editing is done. 1.A independent publisher would have to pay for office space for staff, for instance, whereas the primary editors use their homes or offices, hiding that cost.
  17. 17. A practical goal for the future
  18. 18. Perhaps the bigger underlying problem here is that the demands of a clearly ‘high-profile’ publication record to obtain tenure or to meet the demands of the Research Excellence Framework (here in the UK) many researchers who would be quite happy for their work to be far more widely diseminated via Open Access resources are pressured to channel their publications through the traditional journals A stumbling block: the demands posed by research assessment
  19. 19. Grazie per l’attenzione!
  20. 20. «JMLR was founded when most of the editorial board of the Kluwer journal Machine Learning resigned to establish JMLR on an open access model»
  21. 21. Times have changed (October 8, 2001) «Times have changed. Articles now circulate easily via the Internet, but unfortunately MLJ publications are under restricted access. [...] In summary, our resignation from the editorial board of MLJ reflects our belief that journals should principally serve the needs of the intellectual community, in particular by providing the immediate and universal access to journal articles that modern technology supports, and doing so at a cost that excludes no one.»

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