Re: Entire Editoral Board Resigns En Masse

From: Stevan Harnad <harnad_at_COGPRINTS.SOTON.AC.UK>
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 03:52:24 +0100

        Constructive response and policy from Kluwer

Further to the publicity that has been given to the editorial
board resignations from Machine Learning, please see the following
message from its Executive Editor, Robert Holte, as forwarded by
Peter Suber of FOS (Free Online Scholarship).

Note that Kluwer's policy here is very reasonable, and that the key
feature is that it formally allows author self-archiving. That is all
that is needed. With that, the entire refereed corpus can be freed
online. As the publishers point out, now that this effectively makes
the for-fee version from the publisher optional rather than obligatory,
there are no reasonable grounds for objecting or petitioning or
boycotting or resigning (from the standpoint of the goal of liberating
the refereed literature online).

I hope the research community will soon realize that they are simply
barking up the wrong tree if they focus on trying to force journal
publishers to give away their contents for free, or on founding new
rival journals to wrest their contents from them and give them
away. There is simply no need for it (and it is in any case nowhere near
being within reach for virtually all of the world's 20,000 refereed
journals). All that is needed is systematic author/institution
self-archiving in interoperable OAI-compliant institutional Eprint
Archives --
-- and that is already within reach, immediately, for all 20,000.

All the research community needs to do is realize it, and just
go ahead and do it. And let journal and journal publishers
continue doing what they are good at, and necessary for
(implementing peer review, and providing the on-paper and
on-line options).

Stevan Harnad

NOTE: A complete archive of the ongoing discussion of providing free
access to the refereed journal literature online is available at the
American Scientist September Forum (98 & 99 & 00 & 01):

You may join the list at the amsci site.

Discussion can be posted to:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 13 Oct 2001 17:32:02 -0400
From: Peter Suber <>
Subject: Machine Learning journal

[Forwarding from Robert Holte, Executive Editor of _Machine
Learning_. Please read both his messages below. --Peter.]

I am writing concerning a recent article by Peter Suber about the
resignations of members of the Machine Learning (MLJ) editorial board.
It was circulated by you on your mailing list.

While the article is generally accurate in its summary of the resignation
letter, the letter itself somewhat misrepresents Machine Learning and
Kluwer, particularly regarding the online accessibility of MLJ articles.
As I explain in my note below - which I have sent to the same places
as the resignation letter - Kluwer has agreed to make MLJ articles
universally accessible online. Paid subscriptions to MLJ are
just like the hard copy of JMLR sold by MIT Press - both provide
high-quality paper archives,

The following statement in your article somewhat misrepresents Kluwer's
response to demands for a lower institutional subscription price:

    Kluwer agreed to lower the individual subscription price (to $120) but
    would not lower the institutional price (at $1,050)

Strictly speaking it is true that Kluwer did not lower the
institutional price, but what it did instead was significantly
increase the number of pages published each year, reducing the
price-per-page to just a penny over its 1996 level.

Another misleading phrase is "All but a handful" in
    Leslie invited all the MLJ editors to join her
    at the new journal, without necessarily resigning from MLJ.
    All but a handful chose to resign and join her.

One-third of the board did not resign, that is more than a handful.

I would be very grateful if you would draw these points to your
readers' attention, and I would be happy to provide any further
information your require.

-- Robert Holte
    Executive Editor
    Machine Learning

------------------ response to the letter of resignation ---------------
Dear colleagues,

In response to the widely circulated letter of resignation of
some members of the Machine Learning journal (MLJ), I would like to
make two points:
   - MLJ articles *are* universally electronically accessible
   - MLJ seeks your support and input to continue serving the community

The accessibility of MLJ papers has been dramatically improved
in the past 12 months. The main changes are these:

   - the copyright agreement gives the author the right to distribute
     individual copies of an MLJ paper to students and colleagues,
     physically and electronically, including making the paper available
     from the author's personal web site.

   - all MLJ papers are freely available online at Kluwer's web page
     from the time of acceptance until the paper appears in print.

   - the individual MLJ subscription price has been dramatically reduced.
     It is excellent value for money: for $120 Kluwer prints, binds,
     and mails to your door around 1350 pages.

As a consequence of the first two points, MLJ articles are universally
accessible -- from Kluwer's home page in the first six months or so,
and at any time from the author's home page.

The primary purpose of paid subscriptions, in this new distribution model,
is to enable an individual or institution to obtain a bound archival copy
of the journal printed on high-quality paper -- exactly the same role
served by the printed version of JMLR sold by MIT Press.

Turning to the second point, all members of both editorial boards have
the interests of the machine learning community at heart.
Our job is to serve you.

The current members of the MLJ board, and the new members we are
in the process of adding, believe it is in the best interests
of the research community to keep MLJ alive and strong at this time.
This is not to say we hope JMLR will fail. There is ample excellent
research to support two high-quality journals, so it is not necessary
for one of the journals to be destroyed in order for the other to succeed.

If you agree that MLJ is useful to the community and has
a role to play in the future, I would like to hear from you -
feedback from the community is the very best way for me to know
how to steer MLJ's course so it best serves the community.

-- Robert Holte
    Executive Editor
    Machine Learning
Received on Tue Oct 16 2001 - 04:38:47 BST

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