While I was on holiday, one very good thing happened.
First as background, you might like to look at this post on SymOmega by John Bamberg, adding two new types to the existing gold and green open access. The significant one is diamond open access, which refers to publication which is free both to authors and to readers; that is, journals run by volunteers, such as the Electronic Journal of Combinatorics.
I think that choosing the name “diamond” for this was a stroke of genius. John refers to Tim Gowers’ blog, in which Tim describes this method, and calls it
what Marie Farge (who has worked very hard for a more rational publication system) likes to call diamond open access
Marie Farge, I salute you!
There was also an email from Liz Billington, managing editor of the Australasian Journal of Combinatorics. The council of the Combinatorial Mathematics Society of Australasia have decided that, from 2014, the journal will cease publishing the print version and will go over to diamond open access. I applaud their brave decision, though there is one special factor here: the Society have built up rather large assets, which free them from the need of making money by publishing a journal. Their reserves should suffice for beyond the foreseeable future. Again on SymOmega, Gordon Royle discusses the decision here.
Every subject is different, but as I have said several times before, I think this model is best for mathematics. There is no guarantee that penny-pinching universities will pay for all their staff to publish all their papers; and in any case, there are many (students, postdocs, emeritus staff, and freelance mathematicians) who do not necessarily have such support. Also, there are already signs, both from university administrations and from research councils, that paying for authors to publish gives them the power to influence what research we do and where we publish it. It is very important that this be resisted, as it will surely drive our research towards mediocrity.
So how can we help? Here are a few random thoughts; others welcome!
- Use the term “diamond open access” wherever possible. It has great psychological value; it sounds clearly superior to gold or green.
- Send your best papers to diamond journals. It is very important that we use the time we have to build up the reputation of these journals, however measured (e.g. by impact factor) so that bureaucrats will have to allow us to publish in them.
- If you have influence with the editorial board of a journal not in a big publisher’s pocket, try to lobby for it to go diamond.
- In your own department or national mathematical society, try to ensure that diamond journals are kept on the “approved” list.
- There are problems faced by diamond journals: finding volunteers to do the work, ensuring that systems for permanent archiving are in place, and so on. Do what you can to help with these.
The picture at the top is from Diamonds in the Sky, an anthology of science fiction by Michael S. Brotherton. It is partly funded by NSF as public outreach; I hope they don’t mind my re-using it here.