letter of resignation from Machine Learning journal

2001-10-12 Thread Michael Jordan

[with apologies for cross-posting...]

Dear colleagues in machine learning,

The forty people whose names appear below have resigned from the
Editorial Board of the Machine Learning Journal (MLJ).  We would
like to make our resignations public, to explain the rationale for
our action, and to indicate some of the implications that we see for
members of the machine learning community worldwide.

The machine learning community has come of age during a period
of enormous change in the way that research publications are
circulated.  Fifteen years ago research papers did not circulate
easily, and as with other research communities we were fortunate
that a viable commercial publishing model was in place so that
the fledgling MLJ could begin to circulate.  The needs of the
community, principally those of seeing our published papers circulate
as widely and rapidly as possible, and the business model of
commercial publishers were in harmony.

Times have changed.  Articles now circulate easily via the Internet,
but unfortunately MLJ publications are under restricted access.
Universities and research centers can pay a yearly fee of $1050 US to
obtain unrestricted access to MLJ articles (and individuals can pay
$120 US).  While these fees provide access for institutions and
individuals who can afford them, we feel that they also have the
effect of limiting contact between the current machine learning
community and the potentially much larger community of researchers
worldwide whose participation in our field should be the fruit of
the modern Internet.

None of the revenue stream from the journal makes its way back to
authors, and in this context authors should expect a particularly
favorable return on their intellectual contribution---they should
expect a service that maximizes the distribution of their work.
We see little benefit accruing to our community from a mechanism
that ensures revenue for a third party by restricting the communication
channel between authors and readers.

In the spring of 2000, a new journal, the Journal of Machine Learning
Research (JMLR), was created, based on a new vision of the journal
publication process in which the editorial board and authors retain
significant control over the journal's content and distribution.
Articles published in JMLR are available freely, without limits and
without conditions, at the journal's website, http://www.jmlr.org.
The content and format of the website are entirely controlled by the
editorial board, which also serves its traditional function of
ensuring rigorous peer review of journal articles.  Finally, the
journal is also published in a hardcopy version by MIT Press.

Authors retain the copyright for the articles that they publish in
JMLR.  The following paragraph is taken from the agreement that every
author signs with JMLR (see www.jmlr.org/forms/agreement.pdf):

  You [the author] retain copyright to your article, subject only
  to the specific rights given to MIT Press and to the Sponsor [the
  editorial board] in the following paragraphs.  By retaining your
  copyright, you are reserving for yourself among other things unlimited
  rights of electronic distribution, and the right to license your work
  to other publishers, once the article has been published in JMLR
  by MIT Press and the Sponsor [the editorial board].  After first
  publication, your only obligation is to ensure that appropriate
  first publication credit is given to JMLR and MIT Press.

We think that many will agree that this is an agreement that is
reflective of the modern Internet, and is appealing in its recognition
of the rights of authors to distribute their work as widely as possible.
In particular, authors can leave copies of their JMLR articles on their
own homepage.

Over the years the editorial board of MLJ has expanded to encompass
all of the various perspectives on the machine learning field, and
the editorial board's efforts in this regard have contributed greatly
to the sense of intellectual unity and community that many of us feel.
We believe, however, that there is much more to achieve, and that
our further growth and further impact will be enormously enhanced
if via our flagship journal we are able to communicate more freely,
easily, and universally.

Our action is not unprecedented.  As documented at the Scholarly Publishing
and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) website, http://www.arl.org/sparc,
there are many areas in science where researchers are moving to low-cost
publication alternatives.  One salient example is the case of the
journal Logic Programming.  In 1999, the editors and editorial
advisors of this journal resigned to join Theory and Practice of
Logic Programming, a Cambridge University Press journal that encourages
electronic dissemination of papers.

In summary, our resignation from the editorial board of MLJ reflects
our belief that journals should principally serve the needs of 

Re: letter of resignation from Machine Learning journal

2001-10-12 Thread Jaak Vilo


On Fri, 12 Oct 2001, Michael Jordan wrote:
 The forty people whose names appear below have resigned from the
 Editorial Board of the Machine Learning Journal (MLJ).  We would

You may already know, or if not, find this initiative interesting

-Jaak Vilo


  The Public Library of Science is a non-profit organization of
  scientists committed to making the world's scientific and medical
  literature freely accessible to scientists and to the public around
  the world, for the benefit of scientific progress, education and the
  public good.

  We are working for the establishment of international online public
  libraries of science that will archive and distribute the complete
  contents of published scientific articles, and foster the development of
  new ways to search, interlink and integrate the information that is
  currently partitioned into millions of separate reports and segregated
  into thousands of different journals, each with its own restrictions on

  As a step toward these goals, scientists around the world have been
  circulating an open letter urging publishers to allow the research
  reports that have appeared in their journals to be distributed freely by
  independent, online public libraries of science. The response from the
  international scientific community to this initiative has been
  remarkable, and overwhelmingly positive. The open letter has now been
  signed by 28239 of your colleagues from 172 countries. Our initiative
  has prompted some significant and welcome steps by many scientific
  publishers towards freer access to published research, but in general
  these steps have fallen short of the reasonable policies we have
  advocated. We will make every effort to publish our work in, and give
  our full support to, those journals that have adopted the policy
  proposed in the open letter.

  It is now clear, however, that if we really want to change the
  publication of scientific research, we must do the publishing ourselves.
  It is time for us to work together to create the journals we have called
  for. We are working to establish a non-profit scientific publisher under
  the banner of the Public Library of Science, operated by scientists, for
  the benefit of science and the public. With your participation, vision
  and energy we can establish a new model for scientific publishing.
  Please join us in this effort.