Discrete Analysis one year on

This is cross posted from the blog on the Discrete Analysis web page.

Approximately a year on from the announcement of Discrete Analysis, it seems a good moment to take stock and give a quick progress report, so here it is.

At the time of writing (5th October 2016) we have 17 articles published and are on target to reach 20 by the end of the year. (Another is accepted and waiting for the authors to produce a final version.) We are very happy with the standard of the articles. The journal has an ISSN, each article has a DOI, and articles are listed on MathSciNet. We are not yet listed on Web of Science, so we do not have an impact factor, but we will soon start the process of applying for one.

We are informed by Scholastica that between June 6th and September 27th 2016 the journal had 18,980 pageviews. (In the not too distant future we will have the analytics available to us whenever we want to look at them.) The number of views of the page for a typical article is in the low hundreds, but that probably underestimates the number of times people read the editorial introduction for a given article, since that can be done from the main journal pages. So getting published in Discrete Analysis appears to be a good way to attract attention to your article — we hope more than if you post it on the arXiv and wait for it to appear a long time later in a journal of a more conventional type.

We have had 74 submissions so far, of which 14 are still in process. Our acceptance rate is 37%, but some submissions are not serious mathematics, and if these are discounted then the rate is probably somewhere around 50%. I think the 74 includes revised versions of previously submitted articles, so the true figure is a little lower. Our average time to reject a non-serious submission is 7 days, our average to reject a more serious submission is 47 days, and our average time to accept is 121 days. There is considerable variance in these figures, so they should be interpreted cautiously.

There has been one change of policy since the launch of the journal. László Babai, founder of the online journal Theory of Computing, which, like Discrete Analysis, is free to read and has no publication charges, very generously offered to provide for us a suitable adaptation of their style file. As a result, our articles will from now on have a uniform appearance and, more importantly, will appear with their metadata: after a while it seemed a little strange that the official version of one of our articles would not say anywhere that it was published by Discrete Analysis, but now it tells you that, and the number of the article, the date of publication, the DOI, and so on. So far, our two most recent articles have been formatted — you can see them here and here — and in due course we will reformat all the earlier ones.

If you have an article that you think might suit the journal (and now that we have several articles on our website it should be easier to judge this), we would be very pleased to receive it: 20 articles in our first year is a good start, but we hope that in due course the journal will be perceived as established and the submission rate of good articles will increase. (For comparison, Combinatorica published 31 articles in 2015, and Combinatorics, Probability and Computing publishes around 55 articles a year, to judge from a small sample of issues.)

16 Responses to “Discrete Analysis one year on”

  1. Mark C. Wilson Says:

    Congratulations – it just shows what can be done with a bit of effort. Why more people of the standing of Babai and Gowers are not doing this, I can’t understand.

  2. llapidaire Says:

    dear Timothy,

    congratulations. i very good accomplishment in only one year.

    if possible, we would be happy to include the published papers in our open access library.

    feel free to contact me.

    kind regards

    louis lapidaire

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. talithin Says:

    I think you may have forgotten to include some likes: “here and here” for example.

    • gowers Says:

      Thanks — I’ve now corrected that. (The links worked in the version of the post on the journal’s blog, but I forgot about them when I cut and pasted from there to here.)

  4. James Smith Says:

    Prof Gowers,

    you mention MathSciNet, and give the impression that your journal’s articles are being listed there is an incentive to authors to publish with you. However, given that MathSciNet is a subscription service, do you not feel that there is some compromise here? A quick google on MathSciNet found this:


    This is a question about reviewing rather than contributing but still relevant, I think. Opinions seem divided. For example:

    ‘AMS is selling access to these reviews. I am probably getting paid peanuts, or nothing at all…to help building a corpus that is sold commercially. The prices are not cheap for a single user. I’d rather contribute to a public database.’

    Others seem to be staunch defenders:

    ‘Unless you have something against MathSciNet (in which case, this is probably not the site to discuss it)…’

    That seemed a bit strong.

    Anyway, is not at least part of the idea of Discrete Analysis to replace such services in time? I guess pragmatism has displaced idealism a little here?

    • gowers Says:

      You raise an interesting point. From several comments I’ve had about Discrete Analysis, it is clear that being listed on MathSciNet is something that matters to a lot of people — it marks their articles out as being “real” somehow. This isn’t a purely cosmetic matter, since one way people have of finding out about a mathematician is to look them up on MathSciNet and see what they have published. So it was a genuine pragmatic concern to get our papers listed.

      That said, I do find it a little objectionable that in this day and age MathSciNet should be a paid service. Worse still, when I’m at home, I find that instead of giving me an option to log in via Athens or something like that, it asks for a password that I don’t have. Maybe there’s some complicated way I can consult it through Cambridge’s subscription, but I haven’t found it.

      It is partly for that reason that Discrete Analysis has “editorial introductions” to each article. These perform some of the functions of MathSciNet reviews — giving a bit of context to an article and indicating what is interesting about it. They are maybe a little less objective than MathSciNet, since we are describing articles that we ourselves have chosen, but at least you don’t get those non-reviews that simply cut and paste the abstract of the paper.

      So there’s a bit of pragmatism and a bit of idealism: pragmatism in that we recognise that, rightly or wrongly, being listed on MathSciNet is seen as a sign of a proper mathematics journal, but idealism in that if you want to get an idea of what one of our articles is about, and don’t have a subscription to MathSciNet, then our editorial introductions are, we hope, a more than adequate substitute.

    • Anonymous Says:

      MathSciNet is not just a matter of whether a paper is viewed as “real”. It is an invaluable resource for finding relevant papers, and it is hard for me to imagine doing research without it. Indeed, it would be nice if it were a free service, but I imagine that there are significant costs in running and maintaining it, and it is run by the AMS, not by some sort of a predatory commercial publisher.

    • gowers Says:

      I’m interested you find that. These days if I want to find relevant papers, I just type various combinations of key words into Google, look at introductions, chase references, etc., and it works fairly well (which is not to say that it’s perfect by any means). I don’t use MathSciNet for this any more.

  5. James Smith Says:

    Prof Gowers,

    >It is partly for that reason that Discrete Analysis has “editorial introductions” to each article…

    Probably Google finds these very digestible, too.

    Funny you mention your travails with logging in. The academic institution of which I am still (somewhat tenuously) a part has this marvellous VPN. I simply click on an icon and the whole intellectual world opens up. Since I came to academia late, the difference between being an intellectual ‘have’ versus a ‘have not’ for me is stark. It always makes me ponder.

  6. James Smith Says:

    it must be a very egalitarian computer :O)

  7. David Roberts Says:

    (Sorry to derail the conversation) Regarding MathSciNet, what happens when you go to this link and sign in?


    Is Raven just part of library/university services access? Or is it additional? At Adelaide we have a similar system, but the access password is just the usual one that works for everything.

    (Back on topic)

    Bravo for getting a decent crop of articles in the first year! When the beans that bean counters count start being approved, you definitely will get more submissions.

    I would be cool if you could have an ‘editors open day’ so that editors at other journals on more monolithic publishing systems could have a virtual tour to see what they are missing, and what they could have if only…

  8. Thomas Sauvaget Says:

    Dear SIr,

    will Discrete Analysis register to participate from 2017 to the yearly AMS study on journal backlogs puslished in Notices of the AMS ? (Please see the recent article http://www.ams.org/publications/journals/notices/201610/rnoti-p1194.pdf for the 2015 data.)

    Indeed Discrete Analysis does not appear in the serials http://www.ams.org/msnhtml/serials.pdf (which is a necesseray condition, apparently) and yet you mention that the articles are listed on Mathscinet (so they probably do have some sort of a serial).

  9. Dirk Werner Says:

    The Discrete Analysis papers are also indexed by Zentralblatt, which runs a free trial version and thus is accessible from every computer in the world.

  10. Miscellaneous: books to read, a new QM journal, the imposter syndrome, the US presidential elections | Ajit Jadhav's Weblog Says:

    […] Here is Gowers’ recent blog post reflecting on the success of this arXiv-overlay journal [^]. Here is what Nature had to report about the movement a few months ago […]

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