Tag Archives: JVSP

Excellent: The Journal of Brief Ideas

Here is another new initiative: The Journal of Brief Ideas.

There are interesting reactions to this:

OK, what is this, in just a few words?

From the About page of the journal:

The Journal of Brief Ideas is a research journal, composed entirely of ‘brief ideas’. The goal here is to provide a place for short ideas to be described – in 200 words or less – for these ideas to be archived (courtesy of Zenodo), searchable and citable.
I submitted the following: Build a molecular computer.
A visualisation for the Ackermann function here:

In my opinion this is part of the exploration of new ways of communicate, do collaborative work and explore in the research world.
The article format is obsolete, even if put in digital form. More is needed, one of the ideas it to eventually arrive to run the article in the browser.
It is very encouraging to see that in only few days two excellent, different initiatives concerning new ways, new meanings of publication appeared, the Journal of Brief Ideas and PeerJ/paper-now.
This new journal recalls me the proposal  of a Journal of very short papers.
The idea behind JVSP was to use the legacy format for journals in order to peer-review articles from OA repositories, like arXiv.
After writing that article I got replies, resulting in an update which I reproduce here:
”   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: http://emis.math.ca/journals/JLT/vol.13_no.1/wuestla2e.pdf “,  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:http://arxiv.org/abs/1204.4886 “, which will  appeared in the New York Journal of Mathematics,   in  an open access journal.” [my comment: in a 10 pages long form which obsoletes arXiv:1204.4886] Interesting that the Twitter idea appears also.
But this is not about Twitter, nor about peer-reviews. It is a NEW idea.
The Journal of Brief Ideas makes the excellent proposal to attach DOI to ideas, in a short format (up to 200 words), but with enough place for using the power of the Net.
Can’t resist to point also to the Journal of Uncalled Advices, will it appear some day?

AZ open access

Instead of Diamond OA (as mentioned in Tim Gowers very interesting “Why I’ve also joined the good guys“) I suggest that a better and inspiring name for this yet mysterious idea if epijournals would be

AZ open access

or open access from A to Z. There is another, better justification for this name, see the end of the post!

Diamond and Gold names just betray that many people don’t get the idea that in the age of the net is not good to base one business model on the SCARCITY OF GOODS. Gold and diamonds are valuable because they are scarce. Information, on the contrary, is abundant and it thrives from being shared. Google got it, for example, they are not doing bad, right? Therefore, why base the business publishing model on the idea of making the information scarce, in order to have value? You already have value, because value itself is just a kind of carrier of information.

The name AZ OA is a tribute. It means:

Aaron SwartZ Open Access.

Good news from the good guys

The very recent post of Gowers “Why I’ve also joined the good guys” is good news! It is about a platform for “epijournals”, or in common (broken, in my case) English means a system of peer-reviewing arxiv articles.

UPDATE: For epijournals see Episciences.org and also the blog post  Episciences: de quoi s’agit-il?.

If you have seen previous posts here on this subject, then you imagine I am very excited about this! I  posted immediately a comment, is awaiting moderation just appeared, so here is it for the posterity:

Congratulations, let’s hope that it will work (however I don’t understand the secrecy behind the idea). For some time I try to push an idea which emerged from several discussions, described here  Peer-review turned on its head has market value(also see Peer-review is Cinderella’s lost shoe )  with very valuable contributions from readers, showing that the model may be viable, as a sort of relative of the pico-publication idea.

Secrecy (if there is one or I am just uninformed) is not a good idea, because no matter how smart is someone, there is always a smarter idea waiting to germinate in another one’s head. It is obvious that:

  • a public discussion about this new model will improve it beyond the imagination of the initiators, or it will show its weakness (if any), just like in the case of a public discussion about an encryption protocol, say. If you want the idea to stand, then discuss it publicly,
  • the model has to provide an incentive for the researchers to do peer-reviews. There are two aspects about this: 1)  the researchers are doing peer-reviews for free anyway, for the old-time journals, so maybe the publishers themselves could consider the idea to organize the peer-review process, 2) anything is possible once you persuade enough people that it’s a good idea.
  • any association between expired reflexes (like vanity publication, or counting the first few bits of articles, like ISI, for the sake of HR departments) will harm the project. In this respect see the excellent post MOOCs teach OA a lesson   by Eric Van de Velde, where it is discussed why the idea of Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) had much more success in such a short time then the OA movement.

Enough for now, I am looking forward to hear more about epijournals.

UPDATE: There is no technical reason to ignore  some of the eprints which are already on arxiv. By this I mean the following question: are epijournals considering only peer-reviewing new arxiv eprints, or there is any interest of peer-reviewing existing eprints?

UPDATE 2: This comment by Benoît Régent-Kloeckner    clarifies who is the team behind epijournals. I reproduce the comment here:

I can clarify a bit the “epi-team” composition. Jean-Pierre Demailly tried to launch a similar project some years ago, but it had much less institutional support and did not work out. More recently, Ariane Rolland heard about this tentative and, having contact at CCSD, made them meet with Jean-Pierre. That’s the real beginning of the episciences project, which I joined a bit later. The names you should add are the people involved in the CCSD: Christine Berthaud, head of CCSD, Laurent Capelli who is coding the software right now, and Agnès Magron who is working on the communication with Ariane.

Second thoughts on Gowers’ “Why I’ve joined the bad guys”

This post, coming after the “Quick reaction…“, is the second dedicated to the post “Why I’ve joined the bad guys” by Tim Gowers.

Let’s calm down a bit. I could discuss at length about the multiple reasons why the arguments from the mentioned post are wrong, or twisted, or otherwise. Maybe for another time, but for now it is enough to say that it looks like a piece of not well designed PR for gold open access. PR is a profession by itself, it has its  techniques and means to achieve the goal, but here the stellar mathematician Gowers just shows that PR is not among his strengths.

It is clear that the crux of the matter is dissapointment.  Gowers, who was the initiator of the cost of knowledge movement, of the polymath project, is now trying to sell us the gold open access?

Maybe it means that there is a need for public figures to support this shaky construction.

At second thought, the FoM is not the end of the world as we knew it. Is just yet another journal which tries to salvage what it can from the old publication model, who was once essential for the research community, but is now obsolete because the net is here.

The real matter is though not FoM, or Gowers “betrayal”, but the fact that we have to look for new models of publication. Once such a model is found then naturally any FoM will decay to oblivion.

Take for example the business of publication of encyclopedias. Enters Wikipedia, who proved it is scalable and it is sustained by millions of enthusiasts, btw, and now the encyclopedias business is no longer viable. It will happen the same with the publication of research articles.

Better is to try to think about a good model.  Consider for example two related ideas, discussed here:

Peer-review is Cinderella’s lost shoe

Scientific publishers are in some respects like Cinderella. They used to provide an immense service to the scientific world, by disseminating  new results and archiving old results into books. Before the internet era, like Cinderella at the ball, they were everybody’s darling.

Enters the net. At the last moment, Cinderella tries to run from this new, strange world.


(image taken from here)

Cinderella does not understand  what happened so fast. She was used with the scarcity (of economic goods), to the point that she believed everything will be like this all her life!

What to do now, Cinderella? Will you sell open access for gold? [UPDATE: or will you apeal to court?]


(image found here)

But wait! Cinderella forgot something. Her lost shoe, the one she discarded when she ran out from the ball.

In the scientific publishers world, peer-review is the lost shoe. (As well, we may say that up to now, researchers who are writing peer-reviews are like Cinderella too, their work is completely unrewarded and neglected.)

In the internet era the author of a scientific research paper is free to share his results with the scientific world by archiving a preprint version of her/his paper in free access repositories.  The author, moreover, HAS to do this  because the net offers a much better dissemination of results than any old-time publisher. In order (for the author’s ideas) to survive, making a research paper scarce by constructing pay-walls around it is clearly a very bad idea.  The only thing which the gold open access  does better than green open access is that the authors pay the publisher for doing the peer review (while in the case of arxiv.org, say, the archived articles are not peer-reviewed).

Let’s face it: the publisher cannot artificially make scarce the articles, it is a bad idea. What a publisher can do, is to let the articles to be free and to offer the peer-review service.

Like Cinderella’s lost shoe, in this moment the publisher throws away the peer-reviews (made gratis by fellow researchers) and tries to sell the article which has acceptable peer-review reports.

Why not the inverse? The same publisher, using the infrastructure it has, may try to sell the peer-review reports of freely archived articles AFTER. There is a large quantity of articles which are freely available, in open access repositories like arxiv.org. They are “published” already, according to the new rules of the game. Only that they are not reviewed.

Let the publishers do this! It would be a service that is needed, contrary to the dissemination of knowledge service which is clearly obsolete. (See also Peer-review turned on its head has market value.)

Scarcity damages dissemination of knowledge

Here are two graphical illustrations of the process of dissemination of knowledge.

From the point of view of the author/researcher it looks like this:


From the point of view of those seeking knowledge it looks like this:


Then, obviously, from the point of view of the researcher  SCARCITY is a very bad idea.

Peer-review turned on its head has market value

The comment by Peter Suber at the previous post “Journal of very short papers” made me realize that peer-reviewing free open access papers might have market value.  Provided that it is turned on its head.

Peter Suber points to the BMJ pico  publication model, which apparently is working for the medical community.  The idea is amazing, even more amazing is that it works.

BMJ publishes open access papers and sells one page abridged versions of the papers. Quote:

The full text of all accepted BMJ research articles is published online in full, with open access and no word limit, on bmj.com as soon as it is ready. In the print and iPad BMJ each research article is abridged, with the aim of making research more inviting and useful to readers.

More about the BMJ pico story here:  Abridgment as added value, SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #137 .


But what could be the use of an abridged paper for a math article? Those articles have abstracts, more abridged than this is hard to find. Yet, there is another abridged version of the mathematical article, of some sort. It is the peer-review report.

In the classical peer-review, things happen behind the scenes. When everything has the OK of the reviewers then the paper is published. The reports go to the trash bin.

Imagine now that some (benevolent hopefully) entity offers the paid service of selling (for tiny amounts of money, like songs are sold these days) the peer-reviews of articles from arxiv.

Instead of hiding the peer-review process and do it before publication, turn it on its head and sell it after the (free open access) publication. It might work, like the BMJ pico works. I think it works because it saves time for the researchers.