Journal of very short papers

What do you think about  a Journal of very short papers (JVSP)?

How short can be a publishable  mathematical research article? Thinking about the structure of a research article, it is clear that a lot of the information is packed in the references. Let’s take this to extreme (idea inspired by  this comment which I made at this post by Terence Tao).

Suppose I put two articles on arxiv, let them be “arxiv:8765.4321” and “arxiv:9876.5432”. I work hard on them and I arrive to “publishable” material at the version 2 of the first article and at the version 3 of the second. Therefore I have now

  • Paper A = arxiv:8765.4321v2
  • Paper B = arxiv:9876.5432v3

Because I believe in open access (of the green kind) and because I don’t want too many trees killed for badly disseminating my results, I am submitting one paper to JVSP.

My paper has one page, title, abstract, body and references.

The body of the paper has a few line “Motivations” section, pointing to references [R1], [R2], [R3]. Then comes the “Main result” 😉 which has one theorem.  The proof of the theorem has the following form:

by Theorem 2.14 [Paper A] we get that such and such satisfies the hypothesis of Theorem 1.3 [Paper B]. Therefore such and such is a X. But, according to theorem 4.3 [R1], any X is an Y and we are done.

If there is place left, I may add a corollary, a short conclusion and references [R1], [R2], [R3], [Paper A], [Paper B].

I do not publish later Paper A and Paper B, as they are in their respective versions.

An extreme case of a very short paper would be this. I only have Paper A, which contains Theorem 1, with complete and laborious proof. I submit for publication a very short paper which has as only result the content of Theorem 1 [Paper A], with proof “see Theorem 1 [Paper A] for all details”.

What are the advantages of this?

  • I keep the paper, without restrictions concerning the style, length, etc, on arxiv, which is free access.
  • I validate results of Paper A because the referee of JVSP paper validates in fact the result of the arxiv paper.
  • I support the open access movement.

Why would I be an editor of JVSP and which would be my goals?

  • Because I want to find a solution of the problem of peer-reviewing free access and green open access papers.
  • Because JVSP is a journal with really low costs and a fun idea.
  • Because technically and morally an author submitting to JVSP gives all the needed information and still owns his/her creation, and as an author I like this.
  • Goal 1: publish solid results, not rubish.
  • Goal 2: JVSP to satisfy the conditions of being included in the ISI list and so on…

Is this feasible? Maybe, with a good management of the process. For example, provide a rather rigid template for the paper, keep a site with open calls for reviewing submitted papers (only titles given), retract visibly and make a big deal about previously published papers which turn out not to be correct, or duplicates, or whatever. Propose to reviewers to be publicly known, if they wish so.


UPDATE:   Helger Lipmaa  points to the journal “Tiny ToCS“.  However, the real purpose of JVSP  is not to be brief, but to create a “subversive”, but with rigorous and solid results old-school like journal for promoting free open access.

Another journal could be “The RXI Journal of Mathematics” which is as rigorous as any journal, only it asks to have at least 3 occurences of the string ‘rxi’ in the text.

David Roberts discusses about fitting a paper into a refereed tweet. It is an interesting idea, some statements are too long, but some of them not. On the top of my head, here is one: “A Connected Lie Group Equals the Square of the Exponential Image, Michael Wüstner, Journal of Lie Theory. Volume 13 (2003) 307–309 Proof: “,  here is another which satisfies also the requirements of JVPS  “W is a monad, David Roberts, Theorem: W:sGrp(S)->sS lifts to a monad. Proof: “, which will  appear in the New York Journal of Mathematics,    an open access journal.


27 thoughts on “Journal of very short papers”

  1. I don’t see the point. Are you saying that the VSP should be a 1-page paper version which essentially references stuff on the arXiv? If so, what is the point of the JVSP in the first place? Why not just go for arXiv completely? OK, it’s not refereed. However, I don’t think you can solve that by refereeing just the VSP and assuming that this automatically referees the papers it refers to.

    1. The point is to create a Trojan horse in order to break into this obsolete system of disseminating knowledge. It has limited use as a future model, but it might be of some short term use and also fun.

      1. I can’t see that happening. I think that this is one problem which must be solved by revolution, not evolution. Basically, if the profits significantly drop, the publishers won’t play along, but if they don’t, then there is no real open-access advantage. There is no chance to beat them at their own game, as it were.

      2. It is a process, it does not happen suddenly. Speaking about revolutions, my impressionist revolution manifesto went almost unnoticed.

        Moreover, the matter is not to beat anybody, but to invite people to collaborate and think about this. For example, can one separate peer-reviewing and publishing activities, and how? I don’t know, more heads mean more ideas.

  2. In 2009, BMJ found that there such demand for 1-page article summaries — called “picos” — that it began selling the picos and providing OA to the full-text articles. That’s the reverse of the JVSP idea, at least if JVSP would be OA, since the picos are priced and not free. But it’s based on the same premise that there’s real demand for well-done, very short articles. It also helps support OA, in this case for the full-length articles. For more detail, see my September 2009 article, “Abridgment as added value.” 

  3. For example, can one separate peer-reviewing and publishing activities, and how? I don’t know, more heads mean more ideas.

    Yes, one can and one should. In particular, those wishing to do something about the problem of overpriced journals should stop talking about abolishing peer review, both because the two things are unrelated and because this more radical stance will make it more difficult to get support. (I also think it is wrong. While I think something should be done about overpriced journals, peer review should remain. That’s not to say it is perfect and nothing about it should be changed, but it is confusing to even mention it in the context of overpriced journals.)

  4. Hi
    sounds like the start of a new way to instantiate thought oriented mediality, albeit one of the google type.
    If I understand it right, very short papers would provide sth like the smallest elements of a “thought”. This will work only if an appropriate “gluing” technology would be provided in parallel. Yet, this would have to be sth more than google provides so far. sth like a Feynman browser, perhaps??
    I also think that it could work for non-math areas… though I have to admit that my essays always tend more towards 120k chars than just 3000 chars 🙂


    1. The point is to stretch the rules of classical, non open access publication, such that it favors the peer-review of free access articles. But then, the comment by Peter Suber gave me the idea of selling peer-reviews, see Peer-review turned on its head has market value. I shall be back on this in January.

      Out-topic, you wrote at your blog about gnomons, in passage. I would appreciate to learn more, with references, about this subject.

      1. hi
        In the respective essay about elementarizatoin as a thinking technique ( the subject of Gnomons served just as a carrier. I have not been interested in the math of hyperbola or its respective history. The fact was just that Anaximander didn’t know how to treat it, but at the same time he was interested in an easy implementation of the sun dial. To this regard he invented the concept of abstract “element” which is the main topic of my essay.
        As I wrote, everything can be found in reference [1], yet, this is available only in german language. If you are interested I could provide it as pdf.

      2. Thank you for the link to the essay about elementarization (interesting concept, do you have/know about any rigorous mathematical treatment of abstract elements?). Yes, I would like a pdf, although I don’t speak german, but maybe I could do something with the references (instructions about my e-mail in the “About” post).

      3. hi
        I sent you a link for download.
        About mathematizing “elements”… no, I did not think about that, as I am not a mathematician. I scheduled it to my brain, who hopefully returns some reasonable approach in the near future 🙂
        I think that it could turn out to be quite a lot of work. It should conceptualize combinability, similar to what category theory does with transformability. Saying this, I mean that it should be able to get rid of its axiomatic starting point(s), which also means that it should go beyond set theory… but actually, I have no clue so far…

      1. I suspect that the benefits for the writers puts the burden on the readers side (although they are, supposedly, more numerous).

      2. I shall write a more detailed post about the same subject, thanks for the comment. Two short mentions:
        (1.) You might enjoy the post Peer-review turned on its head has market value, which was inspired by comments on JVSP here and on G+.
        (2.) I believe (many believe?) in this new kind of argumentation, which consists in providing my opinions and just links to other facts, so that readers might form their judgements independently, without passing through my subjective filtering.

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