Journal editors resign to protest publisher's policies (Machine Learning Journal) | October 12, 2001 | Free Online Scholarship (FOS) Newsletter
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"Forty editors of the _Machine Learning Journal_ (MLJ) have resigned from the editorial board and published their reasons in a public letter dated October 8. The MLJ editors were frustrated by the reluctance of Kluwer, their publisher, to adapt the journal to the digital age. They asked Kluwer to lower the subscription price and provide free online access to the articles. Without these changes, the subscription price limited access to the very researchers whom the journal ought to serve.
Quoting the public letter: "While these [subscription] 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."
Kluwer agreed to lower the individual subscription price (to $120) but would not lower the institutional price (at $1,050) or provide free online access to the articles.
Leslie Pack Kaelbling resigned as one of MLJ's action editors and began looking for a publisher willing to host a journal on machine learning more in keeping with her vision of wide and free online access. She struck a remarkable deal with MIT Press. She would launch a new journal, the _Journal of Machine Language Research_ (JMLR) which would provide free online access to all its articles and publish them online as soon as they were accepted. Quarterly, MIT would publish a print edition at a reasonable subscription price. MIT brought in the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) to use its international network of member libraries to guarantee an adequate subscription base for the new journal. Finally, JMLR would leave copyrights in the hands of authors. MIT would only have the right of first print publication and the right of first refusal on anthologies of JMLR articles. MIT agreed, in effect, not to own the journal or its contents, but only to publish the print edition. No money changes hands between JMLR and MIT.
MIT can agree to these terms in part because JMLR editors keep costs down by providing online- and print-ready copy in PDF format. MIT is also willing to experiment with new ways of doing business in the digital age...."