Discrete Analysis launched

As you may remember from an earlier post on this blog, Discrete Analysis is a new mathematics journal that runs just like any other journal except in one respect: the articles we publish live on the arXiv. This is supposed to highlight the fact that in the internet age, and in particular in an age when it is becoming routine for mathematicians to deposit their articles on the arXiv before they submit them to journals, the only important function left for journals is organizing peer review. Since this is done through the voluntary work of academics, it should in principle be possible to run a journal for almost nothing. The legacy publishers (as they are sometimes called) frequently call people naive for suggesting this, so it is important to have actual examples to prove it, and Discrete Analysis is set up to be one such example. Its website goes live today.

We have decided to splash out and use a publishing platform called Scholastica. Scholastica was founded in 2011 by some University of Chicago graduates who wanted to disrupt the current state of affairs in academic publishing by making it very easy to create electronic journals. I say “splash out” because they charge $10 per submission, whereas there are other ways of creating electronic journals that are free. But we have got a lot for that $10, as I shall explain later in this post, and the charge compares favourably, to put it mildly, with the article processing charges levied by more traditional publishers. (An example: if you have had an article accepted by the Elsevier journal Advances in Mathematics, the price you need to pay to make that article open access is $1500; the same amount of money would cover 100 submissions to Discrete Analysis. I didn’t say 150 because there are some small further costs we incur, such as a subscription to CrossRef, which enables us to issue DOIs to our articles.) Most importantly, we do not pass on even this $10 charge to authors, as we have a small fund that covers it.

Now that we have been handling submissions for almost six months, we have been forced to make decisions that leave us with a rather clearer idea about what the scope and standards of the journal are. As far as the scope is concerned, we want to be reasonably broad. For example, the analysis in the paper by Tuomas Hytönen, Sean Li and Assaf Naor is not really discrete in any useful sense, but we judged it to have a similar spirit to the kind of papers that fit the title of the journal more obviously by treating discrete structures using analytic tools. Our rough policy is that if a paper is good enough, then we will not be too worried about whether it has the right sort of subject matter, as long as it isn’t in an area that is completely foreign to the editorial board.

As for the quality, we have been surprised and gratified by the high standard of submissions we have received, which has allowed us to set a high bar, turn away some perfectly respectable papers, and establish Discrete Analysis as a distinctly good journal.

That is an important part of our mission, because we want to show that the cheapness of running the journal is completely compatible with high quality. And that does not just mean mathematical quality. One thing I hope you will notice is that the journal’s website is far better designed than almost any other website of a mathematics journal. This design was done by the Scholastica team for no charge (I think they see it as an investment, since they would like to attract more journals to their platform), and it satisfies various requirements I felt strongly about: for example, that it should be attractive to look at, that one should be able to explore the content of the journal without undue clicking and loading of new pages, and that it would be able to handle basic LaTeX. But it has other features that I did not think of, such as having an image associated with each article (which seems pointless until you actually look at the site and see how the image makes it easier to browse and more tempting to find out about the article) and making the site work well on your phone as well as your laptop. If you compare it with, say, the website of Forum of Mathematics, Sigma, it’s like comparing a Rolls Royce with a Trabant, except that someone has mischievously exchanged the price tags. (Let me add here that there are many good things about Forum of Mathematics. In particular, its editorial practices have been a strong influence on those of Discrete Analysis. And it is far from alone in having an unimaginative and inconvenient website.)

Since I am keen to promote the arXiv overlay model, I was also particularly concerned that Discrete Analysis should not be perceived as “just like a normal journal, but without X, Y and Z”. Rather, I wanted it to be better than a normal journal in important respects (and at least equal to a normal journal in all respects that anyone actually cares about). If you visit the website, you will notice that each article gives you an option to click on the words “Editorial introduction”. If you do so, then up comes a description of the article (not on a new webpage, I hasten to add), which sets it in some kind of context and helps you to judge whether you might want to go ahead and read it on the arXiv.

There are at least two reasons for doing this. One is that if the website were nothing but a list of links, then there would be a danger that it would seem a bit pointless: about the only reason to visit it would be to check that when an author claims to have been published by us, then that is actually true. But with article descriptions and a well-designed website, one can actually browse the journal. Browsing is something I used to enjoy doing back when print journals were all that there were, but it is quite a lot harder when everything is electronic. (Some websites try to interest you in related content, but it seems to be chosen by rather unsophisticated algorithms, and in any case is not what I am talking about — I mean the less focused kind of browsing where you stumble on an interesting paper that neither you nor an algorithm based on your browsing history would ever have thought of looking at.)

A second reason is that having these introductions goes a small way towards dealing with a serious objection to the current system of peer review, which is that a great deal of valuable information never gets made public. As an editor, I sometimes get to read very interesting information that puts a submitted article into a context that I didn’t know about. All the reader of the journal gets is one bit of information: that the article was accepted rather than rejected. (One could argue that it isn’t even one bit, since we do not learn which articles have been rejected.) Of course, under cover of privacy and anonymity, referees can also make remarks that one would not want to make public, but with article descriptions we don’t have to. We can simply write the descriptions using information from the article itself, prior knowledge, remarks made by the referees, remarks made by editors, relevant facts discovered from the internet, and so on. And how this information is selected and combined can vary from article to article, so the reader won’t know whether any particular piece of information was part of a referee’s report.

Thus, Discrete Analysis is offering services that other journals do not offer. Here’s another one. Suppose you submit an article to Discrete Analysis and we accept it. The next stage is for you to submit a revision to arXiv, taking account of the referee’s comments. Once that’s done, we make sure we have an editorial introduction and appropriate metadata in place, and publish it. But what if at some later date you suddenly realize that there is a shorter and more informative proof of Lemma 2.3? With the conventional publishing system, that’s basically just too bad: you’re stuck with the accepted version.

In a way that’s true for us too. The version that’s accepted becomes what people like to call the version of record, so that when people refer to your paper there won’t be any confusion about what exactly they are referring to. (This is important of course, though in my view the legacy publishers massively exaggerate its importance.) However, being an arXiv overlay journal allows us to reach a much more satisfactory compromise between having a fixed version of record and allowing updates. If you follow the link from the journal webpage to the article and the article has subsequently been updated, the arXiv page you link to will inform you that the version you are looking at is not the latest one. So without our having to do anything, since it happens automatically with the arXiv, readers get the best of both worlds. As an example, here is the arXiv page for a version of a preprint by Bourgain and Demeter (not submitted to Discrete Analysis). As you’ll see, the information that it is not the latest version is clearly highlighted in red.

Another feature of Discrete Analysis, but this one it shares with other purely electronic journals, is that we are not artificially constrained by the need to fill a certain number of pages per year. So you will not hear from us that we receive many more good articles than we can accept, or that your article, though excellent, is too long — we just have a standard we are aiming for and will accept all articles that we judge to reach it.

So if you have a good paper that could conceivably be within our scope, then why not submit it to us? Your paper will have some very good company (just look at the website if you don’t believe me). It will be properly promoted on a website that embraces what the internet has to offer rather than merely being a pale shadow of a paper journal. And you will be helping, in a small way, to bring about a change to the absurdly expensive and anachronistic system of academic publishing that we still have to put up with.

68 Responses to “Discrete Analysis launched”

  1. Mark C. Wilson Says:

    Congratulations! The presentation and content of the site seem excellent, and the editorial innovations (in some sense very conservative, yet much more daring than most mathematics journals) are promising. I hope it inspires many imitators.

    • gowers Says:

      That mix of conservatism and innovation was what we were aiming for: conservatism so that people wouldn’t be worried about submitting papers to us, and innovation because we want to encourage change.

  2. David Roberts Says:

    It struck me that your editorial introductions is like a mini version of Math Reviews but without a giant backlog of papers to get through. It would be amazing if other journals picked this up, for instance starting with the AMS stable, which would help source good external reviews.

    I mean, people talk about post-publication review, and MR is of this sort, but the ‘during publication’ review can actually be pretty good. By excluding the bits of referee reports that aren’t ‘typo on page n’, ‘where is hypothesis X used in lemma Y’ etc useful information is preserved.

  3. telescoper Says:

    Reblogged this on In the Dark and commented:
    I’m reblogging this to congratulate Tim Gowers on the launch of his new arXiv overlay journal, Discrete Mathematics. I wish this venture every success!

    The Open Journal of Astrophysics won’t be far behind, and hopefully this will be the start of a real change “the absurdly expensive and anachronistic system of academic publishing” that Tim Gowers describes in his post!

  4. Alexⓐnder Grossmann (@SciPubLab) Says:

    That’s terrific and congrats to Timothy Gowers who created this vision for a novel publishing workflow already a couple of years ago (see his blog post roll above). It would be a straightforward idea to expand that basic concept to any discipline as I tried to summarize in a recent paper (https://goo.gl/CPQAU8 — DOI: 10.14293/S2199-1006.1.SOR-SOCSCI.ACKE0Y.v1): That idea would allow researchers to publish their papers on a platform immediately, as many scientists are already doing when posting their pre-print on arXiv. The community could then comment and review these publication in an open, transparent post-publication peer review process. And this vision is no longer science fiction, but it has been already deployed at ScienceOpen: All papers of arXiv are already available on that platform plus more than 1m other open access publications from PMC. I am curious to find out whether we can change the present system of scholarly publishing by initiatives as those of Timothy Gowers or ScienceOpen in the future. Let’s move on together!

  5. Olof Sisask Says:

    Fantastic in all respects!

  6. Sean Eberhard Says:

    The format looks really nice, and the editorial introductions seem like such a good idea, a real reason for people to visit the website.

    Is the plan to have issues just like paper journals, or just to publish articles on the website continuously?

  7. Mike Taylor Says:

    I’ll add my voice to the chorus of congratulations. It’s great to see this journal launch, looking so good, and making use of the world’s best-known and most reliable manuscript repository, arXiv. It’s insane that there aren’t many, many more journals implemented as overlays for arXiv, or for other preprint archives in different scholarly fields. I hope that Discrete Analysis (and the Open Journal of Astrophysics) help to catalyse a rush to this much more efficient (in time and money) mode of scholarly publishing.

  8. nth_postdoc Says:

    A fantastic-looking website indeed, congratulations!

    Two small questions: (a) Do the authors have a say on which image is picked for their paper? (b) Each author name has a link to the corresponding homepage or blog: is there a possibility that the URL be modified later (e.g. when the author changes affiliation), if so will it be on demand or automatic ?

    • gowers Says:

      At the moment the choice of images is controlled by Scholastica, but this is a temporary state of affairs. So in due course we would be very open to authors having a say in this matter, and we’ll even be able to change the images on existing articles.

      It will be easy to modify URLs when authors change institution, but I don’t know of any way of doing that except manually. But I hope that people will notify us when they spot broken or out of date links.

  9. guest Says:

    What is the suggested way to use a bibtex entry to a publication in the journal? Could you provide an example?

    • gowers Says:

      The editorial introduction to each article (which you can look at either by clicking on “Editorial introduction” or by clicking on the title or image to be taken to the dedicated page for that article) begins with a general formula of the form

      Title of article, Discrete Analysis year:number

      For example, the editorial introduction to the article by Ben Green and Tom Sanders begins

      Monochromatic sums and products, Discrete Analysis 2016:5.

      Note that the number is the number of the article in that year — it is not a volume or issue number. To convert this into a bibliographic entry, one just adds the names of the authors, probably italicizing the title as well, so that it would read

      Ben Green and Tom Sanders, Monochromatic sums and products, Discrete Analysis 2016:5.

      I’m not sure whether that will be easy to produce using bibtex. If not, maybe we could tweak things. However, we do not want to pretend that the journal has “issues”.

      We may want to add the number of pages too, so that the above entry would read

      Ben Green and Tom Sanders, Monochromatic sums and products, Discrete Analysis 2016:5, 43 pp.

      Another remark is that the article numbers will eventually be visible on the main page of the journal.

  10. Physicist Says:

    Will Discrete Analysis have a preferred LaTeX class style for submissions? If not, can you comment on the reasons that led you to that choice? Part of what gives established journals their identity is a unified graphical look, but of course there’s several reasons to let go of that. I’d be interested in how you came to your position on that balance.

    • gowers Says:

      Our thinking was that a great deal of mathematical dissemination takes place very satisfactorily via the medium of the arXiv preprint, and that we wanted the submission process to be as simple as possible.

      But your question makes me think of options that we could and perhaps should consider. For example, perhaps we could make available a style file that would be optional to authors. And perhaps we could require authors to include a footnote to their accepted version to say that it has been published in Discrete Analysis.

  11. darij grinberg Says:

    Great job!! I wish someone now did the same, with Analysis replaced by Algebra, or whatever else the part of combinatorics I am doing would call itself (it goes under many names…).

    With most existing journals, I’ve been wondering why referees write their summaries of the papers they are refereeing for no visible purpose (except maybe to doublecheck that they got the paper right, but this isn’t an issue in most cases). Now finally these summaries go somewhere (I figured that the “editorial summaries” are mostly compiled from those?). That’s a great idea, turning a mostly useless redundancy into a useful feature!

    One gripe I have, probably with the Scholastica backend: I had to allow discreteanalysis.com to run javascript in order to see more than an empty page, and then two more domains in order to view articles (and there were many domains to choose from). I would be worried about the stability and user-friendliness of such a setup; >=8 domains from which javascript is loaded are >=8 places that could serve malware, and >=8 places that could update themselves breaking usability. I’d also think that the “read article at arxiv” button (or whatever else takes the reader to the actual article) should be bigger, and maybe just be called “read article”, lest a casual user would think that this is just a fallback option against an actual preferred, in-journal way to read the article (most viewers will *not* know that this is an arXiv overlay journal when they will see a link to some article!). And finally, the generic images assigned to articles do seem out-of-place for me; I like the way the backend allows for them, but the backend should not decide on them, nor should they be necessary. I guess the general pattern here is that the design here got ahead of the actual needs of a journal platform, and to some extent started cannibalizing it. Still this is a great step!

  12. 3 – Discrete Analysis (arXiv overlay journal) has been launched Says:

    […] Go to Hacker News Author: n4r9 […]

  13. Discrete Analysis site now live | What's new Says:

    […] platform, as well as the first half-dozen or so accepted papers (including one of my own).  See Tim’s announcement for more details.  I am an editor of this journal (and am already handling a few submissions). […]

  14. Anonymous Says:

    Why does “Erdos discrepancy problem” get a special treatment?

    • gowers Says:

      At any one time the journal has a “featured article”. This was an idea of the Scholastica team. We have not yet decided what our policy will be about which article to feature when, but for the launch this was a natural choice because (i) it solves a very notable problem and (ii) as it happens it was the first article we accepted. (In case it needs saying, it was extremely thoroughly refereed, but that was done quickly enough for it to be the first article we finished processing.)

      I will soon discuss with the rest of the editorial board what our policy about featured articles will be. My own inclination is that each article we publish should at some point be our featured article, but we are a democratic organization, so that may not end up being the policy we adopt.

  15. Jonathan Tooker Says:

    Wow that is cool. The polymath5 looks like a nice program. Terry has used some nice legible notation in his paper there. I would like like to see someone apply this result to the problem as it appears in the complex phase in the Feynman path integral measure. Also, have you seen viXra? Their site allows you to download and view electronic documents for free!

  16. nth_postdoc Says:

    Thank you for the answers above. Here’s another question, this time regarding your sentence “has allowed us to set a high bar, turn away some perfectly respectable papers”.

    What is your policy regarding perfectly respectable but refused papers : are they proposed by the editors to other journals they are editing together with the referee reports, in order to save human-hours for both authors and the global pool of referees ? Or do you prefer not to do that ? A byproduct of such a policy being that more papers might be submitted, so more editing work needed, yet with a majority of submissions now being below the bar you set (but maybe this is not a drawback depending how you view things.).

    • gowers Says:

      I’m broadly in favour of this kind of labour-saving device, though how exactly to organize it I’m not sure. It quite often happens anyway, because often there will be a natural choice of referee for a given paper: many people have had the experience of recommending that a paper should be rejected and then getting asked to referee the same paper for a different journal.

      In cases where a paper is rejected with a detailed referee’s report that makes clear that the referee regards the paper as correct, I think it should be standard practice for authors to resubmit to another journal together with a note that they might like to consult the editors of the first.

      One potential drawback with this is that if you are unlucky enough to have your paper judged by a hostile referee, you may not want that referee to block your article from appearing anywhere, instead giving yourself a chance of a second opinion that might be more favourable.

      So as I say, I’m quite keen on the idea you mention, but I don’t have a clear proposal for how to implement it.

  17. Pat Morin Says:

    Congratulations on a beautiful looking journal. Indeed, the journal’s website is more elegant and useful than any that I’ve seen from any publisher—commercial or otherwise. It certainly makes [JoCG](1) look boring by comparison.

    Two things you may or may not have considered (that we made specific choices about when setting up JoCG):

    # A style file for the version of record of papers so that Discrete Analysis articles have a uniform look.
    # Discrete Analysis papers are sequenced (by a year and number) and the number of pages is part of the bibliographic information. You could, in theory, give them page numbers so that they look like traditional papers in a bibliography (this is something that bugs me about [Electronic Journal of Combinatorics](2), for example).

    In any case, the journal looks great and (most importantly) the content is top-notch.

    [1]: http://jocg.org/
    [2]: http://http://www.combinatorics.org/

  18. Jonathan Tooker Says:

    What is the argument for why “peer-review” is better than a public comments section on the page that hosts the document? I don’t get it.

    • Mike Taylor Says:

      It’s all a matter of perception, isn’t it? There are several reasons to want your work peer-reviewed. One is to make it the best it can be. One is to raise its perceived quality in the eyes of your peers. Another is to make it “count” on your CV when applying for a job, promotion, tenure or a grant.

      To my eyes, public comments are very good for the first purpose (see my own excellent experiences with this), but completely useless for the last. Somewhere in between for the second purpose.

  19. Pierre Says:

    To gauge the level you aim for, would you consider articles rejected by one of the top journals (Annals of Math, JAMS, Acta, Inventiones) with reasonably positive reviews?

    Also, will the list of subjects (under Articles link) be expanded as you except more papers? These do not match the subjects on arxiv, so I wonder how long this list will get?

    • gowers Says:

      We’d certainly consider such articles. I don’t want to say that we would definitely accept them, as I think that would depend on the detail of the “reasonably positive” reviews. But I do see our bar as being set a little lower than it is for those journals, though I also hope that we will get a reputation as a journal that also has some top-notch articles that would have been good enough for one of the journals you mention.

  20. Postdoc Says:

    I think what everyone would like to know is where are you aiming on the following spectrum: (1) Duke/GAFA (2) Advances/American JM (3) Analysis & PDE / Algebra and Number Theory (4) TAMS/JLMS.

    Your editorial decisions so far must give you some sense of this.

    • gowers Says:

      I find that I just don’t think about these journals that way. My perception is that there are a few absolute top ones, a few that are very good but not quite as prestigious, a few very respectable ones, and quite a lot of rather dull ones. And the borderlines between them are very fuzzy, and the standards of articles in any given journal pretty variable. To some extent I (and I’m speaking strictly for myself here, and not necessarily for the other editors) want to react against the idea that you can gauge rather well how good a paper is by what journal it appears in — there’s just too much evidence that that’s not the case.

      So maybe another way of putting my answer to this question would be that if we accept an article, I want there to be some kind of reasonable story about that article that explains why anyone might want to read it and that can form the basis of an editorial introduction. A rule of thumb I have in mind is that an article is acceptable in my judgment if and only if I can imagine an editorial introduction that would be accurate and that would convince a reasonable number of readers to check out the article.

      I also think that editorial introductions offer people a much better way of assessing the quality of an article than the information that it has appeared in such-and-such a journal. They give an idea of what the article has achieved and how, and the reader, if sufficiently expert, will be able to use that information to get some feel for how interesting/difficult the paper is.

  21. Crust Says:

    This is really exciting! The journal looks beautiful and the editorial introductions are a wonderful idea.

    It’s amazing to me that your cost per article is only $15-$30. (The latter number is from the journal blog where it says: “Our total costs probably average about $30 per accepted article.”)

    It’s obviously early days. But I’d be interested to hear: How reproducible do you think this is for other journals? My feeling is at $15 or $30 an article getting funding shouldn’t be a problem for a quality journal. But would another entrant be able to get a similar cost structure or do you have a special situation (e.g. with Scholastica)? How hard is this to set up? In terms of running the journal, how does it compare from a convenience point of view to running a more conventional journal? Are there tools that say Elsevier provides to editors that are genuinely useful and hard to reproduce? (I’m guessing no to the last question, but I thought I’d ask.)

    • gowers Says:

      These costs are completely reproducible and we do not have any special arrangement. Scholastica charges $10 per submission. They created the website for no charge (but now that they have done the work, they will be able to create similar websites for other journals much more easily). The reason I say $30 per published article is to account for the fact that we do not accept all articles, and also that it costs money to assign DOIs to articles.

      As for the convenience, I am probably in the best position to answer, as I am the de facto managing editor, and am therefore the person who would suffer any inconvenience most. I was a little anxious before taking on this role that it would be a substantial amount of work, but it has been very manageable, and I don’t see any way that it would have been even more manageable if I had had the backing of a big commercial publisher. I should add that I have had some useful administrative backup in Cambridge, so many of the tasks such as organizing DOIs and an ISSN have not fallen on me. If another journal is interested in starting up, we would be able to offer help and advice about this, to ensure that it is a smooth an easy process to get it organized.

      Incidentally, if all you want to do is set up a journal with Scholastica and you don’t care about DOIs, ISSNs or a custom-made website, then it can be done in about half an hour. The work, such as it is, comes in setting things up to give the journal a decent chance of success: things like assembling the editorial board, deciding on journal policy, soliciting articles, publicizing the journal, etc. All that is work, but it’s the kind of work that is sufficiently enjoyable that it doesn’t feel like work.

  22. The arXiv overlay journal Discrete Analysis has launched | The Aperiodical Says:

    […] Discrete Analysis launched at Gowers’ Weblog […]

  23. Kevin Sun Says:

    Reblogged this on Thoughts and Observations.

  24. Rick ter Schele Says:

    Why do you assign DOIs to articles? Isn’t the whole DOI system just another scam by the publishers?

    • gowers Says:

      I don’t understand enough about it to be able to answer that question — I just thought it was something it was important to do. What makes it a scam?

      If you had asked the same question about Web of Science and impact factors, my answer would have been that although I think they are silly and harmful, it turns out that the bean counters from some countries don’t count a publication in a journal as a genuine publication unless the journal has an impact factor. So we are forced to play along with the system so as not to discriminate against mathematicians from those countries.

    • Mike Taylor Says:

      This is a very odd suggestion. DOIs are a useful thing for many reasons. A genuine service, provided at a very reasonable price.

  25. Discrete Analysis launched | Peter Cameron's Blog Says:

    […] Tim explains on his blog post, one of the advantages of an arXiv overlay journal is that, while the “version of […]

  26. j2kun Says:

    Hi Tim,

    Thanks for all your hard work on this! One small request: could you add an RSS feed to the discrete analysis page?

  27. Rick ter Schele Says:

    It appears that I can’t reply to a reply. This comment is intended as a reply to the replies of gowers and Mike Taylor to my comment above.

    A DOI is nothing more than a unique way to identify a document. A URL fulfils the same function. If Discrete Analysis provides a URL for each article published then there is no need for a DOI.

    In fact the whole DOI system is just a land grab by the publishers. Look at the membership of the DOI Foundation: Wiley, Springer, Wolters Kluwer, NEJM, etc.

    You’re playing into their hands by adding DOIs to articles in Discrete Analysis.

    • Mike Taylor Says:

      You position here is greatly at odds with general perception of DOIs, which is that they provide a useful layer of persistence for URLs which may change, as well as being a handy point of looking up metadata about an article — e.g. http://search.crossref.org/?q=10.1371/journal.pone.0125819

      As for CrossRef as an organisation: yes, it includes your Wileys and Springers, as any publishing-based metadata system must; it also includes unequivocal good-goods like PLOS and PeerJ — see the big list at http://www.crossref.org/01company/06publishers.html

      It think _Discrete Analysis_ adds real value by supporting DOIs, and that would certainly be a majority view. If you disagree, I think you should explain what specific downsides you perceive.

    • gowers Says:

      Just to echo what Mike says, the idea of a DOI is that even if the URL of the article changes at some point in the future, the DOI will remain a valid reference to the article and will point to the new URL.

    • Mike Taylor Says:

      (By the way, this is why I dislike the trend towards expressing DOIs as resolvable HTTP URLs such as http://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.36 rather than simply as opaque IDs such as 10.7717/peerj.36. By conflating the persistent identifier with a specific resolution mechanism, these “actionable identifiers” break the important quality of DOIs that they are not dependent on any one entity, and should remain persistent and resolvable even if for example CrossRef were disbanded. Not to mention that including the leading “http” is misleading in the light of HTTPS, and vice versa. Identifiers should identify. But this is a side-issue.)

  28. Stuart Says:

    I did post here the other day to say that this was a very interesting development and a good idea. Not sure what happened to it.

    The big question with all new initiatives like this is how they can compete with the ‘prestige’ journals in an environment where the Impact Factor still (unfortunately) holds sway. I hope people will support it, nevertheless.

    • gowers Says:

      I’ve searched through the spam for your previous comment and not found it, so I can’t think what happened.

      Our intention with Discrete Analysis is to compete by (i) doing what we can to get an impact factor, regardless of whether we approve of it, and (ii) making sure we have high standards, even if that limits the amount we publish. I think that a combination of those two should convince people that it is “safe” to submit a good paper to Discrete Analysis.

      In the mean time, I urge anyone with a good and suitable paper who is sufficiently established career-wise not to have to worry about this “safety” (though in my view the only real risk is that for some stupid reason we don’t get an impact factor) to help us with (ii) by submitting it to us.

      I won’t actually do this, but I think I could now point to several well-established mathematics journals with good reputations that have lower standards than we do.

  29. Rick ter Schele Says:

    Mike Taylor, the “general perception” you describe is a testament to the success of the publishers’ propaganda machine.

    But pause to question the value proposition of DOIs as a “useful layer of persistence” or what gowers describes as a forever valid reference to a potentially ephemeral URL and you see that all you’re left with is another layer of indirection. And as RFC1925 reminds us it’s always easier to move a problem around by adding yet another layer of indirection that it is to actually solve the problem.

    But ask yourself, in what way is a DOI intrinsically more persistent than a URL? And if you agree that the answer is, not in the slightest, then why go to the bother of inventing DOIs and building an entire “international foundation” around it?

    The answer, of course, is that publishers are doing what publishers do. In order for them to justify their existence they have to somehow get in between the author and the reader. And what better way to do so than to subvert the WWW addressing scheme by introducing their own scheme and convincing everyone how important it is.

    Note how the language used in appraising DOIs is similar to the FUD about how we need publishers for archiving and to steward the peer review process.

    We don’t believe the latter so let’s not drink the Kool-Aid about the former.

    • Mike Taylor Says:

      I’m not going to get sucked into an argument about this — SIWOTI syndrome already claims too much of my life — so I will make this final statement, then bow out and leave the last word to you. (You are at liberty, if you wish, to interpret this as having “won”.)

      CrossRef is not publishers. It’s an independent organisation with its own constitution. Its members are publishers because its ability to provide services is dependent on publishers implementing their end of things.

      It’s a non-profit.

      It offers much more than mere direction, as noted above in respect of the API — which you will note is open, in keeping with CrossRef’s principles.

      CrossRef’s technical lead Geoff Bilder has been consistent in advocating for open scholarly infrastructure and warning of the danger of its re-enclosure.

      Finally, the use of DOIs in no way militates against also providing direct links — as for example I do in my own publications list.

      The floor is yours. I’m out.

  30. Mathematician Timothy Gowers launches innovative journal | Kresge Physical Sciences Library Says:

    […] more information see Gowers’s blog posts about launching Discrete Analysis and announcing the […]

  31. One future for journal publishing, revisited | Logic Matters Says:

    […] online. And rather striking it looks too. There is more about the lunch issue and the project in Tim Gowers’s latest blogpost. I wonder if any logicians out there will be spurred on to think about starting such an […]

  32. Mio Says:

    There seems to be a typo in the Editorial Introduction for the Erdos discrepancy problem paper. I think there should be a \geq between the discrepancy and m, not an equals sign.

    • gowers Says:

      The two are actually equivalent, since if you can get the discrepancy to be greater than or equal to m, then at some point it must have been equal to m.

      Actually, I see that the next sentence says “at least m“, so the wording is confusing: thanks for pointing that out. On balance, I think changing = to \geq is better than removing “at least” so I’ll make the change you suggest.

  33. Simon Tatham Says:

    Another typo nitpick: the editorial introduction at http://discreteanalysisjournal.com/article/611-computing-automorphism-groups-of-shifts-using-atypical-equivalence-classes contains a piece of visible LaTeX markup, in the form of a “\emph{minimal}” which surely ought to be the word “minimal” in italics.

    • gowers Says:

      Thank you very much for pointing that out. I’ve fixed it now. (The editorial introductions have to be written in a kind of hybrid of LaTeX and markup language, so it’s quite easy to make mistakes like this.)

  34. Discrete Analysis: new Diamond OA journal | CAUL Publishing Says:

    […] Discrete Analysis is a new “diamond open access” (free to read and free to publish in) journal founded by distinguished mathematician Sir Timothy Gowers and a team of colleagues. […]

  35. Gabriel Nivasch Says:

    When I click on the link to http://discreteanalysisjournal.com/ Firefox says that there is a problem with the security certificate, and it doesn’t let me into the page for my own safety.

    • gowers Says:

      I had a similar problem yesterday but it seems to be OK again today. (It could be something to do with development of the website by Scholastica.) Can you see it now?

    • Gabriel Nivasch Says:

      Yes, now it’s fine. It actually looks very nice!

  36. Brian Cody Says:

    Hello Gabriel, Brian from Scholastica here. We saw your post – thanks for pointing out the problem, and sorry for the trouble! As Tim pointed out, our team has fixed the problem. Feel free to email support@scholasticahq.com if you ever have any questions or issues!

  37. aram Says:

    Do you have an idea of how many papers you want to publish per year? Or is it just a question of how many are “above the bar” and if you get 10x as many high-quality submissions you will publish 10x as many papers?

    • gowers Says:

      It’s definitely the latter. We have an idea (still evolving as we get some idea of what people are ready to submit to us) of the sort of paper we want to publish, and would like to publish as many such papers as possible. This, it seems to me, is a major advantage of a purely electronic journal — it seems very artificial in the twenty-first century to say something like “We liked your paper, but I’m afraid that we are running up against our quota and have therefore had to raise our standards.”

  38. Mike Rotkowitz Says:

    Congratulations – I strongly support what you’ve done here, am constantly amazed and dismayed that the usual exploitative model has somehow been allowed to stand, and sincerely hope that this becomes a model for other fields including my own.

  39. Tutorial 30: ways to start a new open-access journal | Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week Says:

    […] for running an overlay journal, as for example the recently launched Discrete Analysis: see Tim Gowers’ blog-post about the new […]

  40. seanhunter comments on "Elsevier – My part in its downfall" Says:

    […] Tim Gowers is an amazing mathematician and a person of great integrity, but this is not exactly news given that the boycott has gone on for so long now (see the date on the article). More recently, in March 2016 he founded a new ultra-low-cost journal (Discrete Analysis) which publishes all articles on arXiv. https://gowers.wordpress.com/2016/03/01/discrete-analysis-la… […]

  41. Promoting Open Science » Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog Says:

    […] Recently he announced the launch of Discrete Analysis, a new journal that publishes to arXiv. […]

  42. arXiv-Overlay-Journals: Das Beste aus zwei Welten | TIB-Blog Says:

    […] oft den Wert ihrer Dienstleistungen betonen, für den eben ein gewisser Preis zu zahlen sei, wurde Discrete Analysis von Timothy Gowers bewusst gegründet, um zu zeigen, dass man heutzutage eine Zeitschrift fast ohne Kosten, „for almost […]

  43. Is Open Access grassroots or top-down? Cambridge Open Access Week 2016 | About Hindawi Says:

    […] it on the same server – this is called an overlay journal and Tim Gowers founded one called Discrete Mathematics. Others beyond publishers may provide recommendation engines and added-value publishing services […]

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