Journal sets pace for peer review

MIT Press is to launch a peer-reviewed journal on the Internet which it hopes will revolutionise research publishing.

The press has been given a $150,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to develop the Chicago Journal of Theoretical Computer Science as a model electronic publication on the net.

The editors believe the development will encourage other publishers to take the electronic path. The main advantage in academic publishing will be the fast turn-around of research findings.

At the moment, researchers can wait up to two years before their work is made available in print. This should change as accepted papers find their way onto the net within two months.

The journal will also take advantage of its electronic form by including executable computer code.

The editors, who include Janos Simon and Michael O'Donnell of the University of Chicago computer science department, aim to develop the journal as an economic model and method for non-profit publishers.

It is designed as a cost-based rather than market-priced format and should provide a model for applying cost-sharing and risk reduction to academic publishing.

The annual subscription is $125 for which institution libraries are licensed for a wide range of uses of the journal. Articles can be mounted locally or accessed through the net.

The journal is published article-by-article and focuses on significant research results in all areas of theoretical computer science.

MIT Press chose it as the guinea pig for the publishing experiment largely because the target community of authors and readers has a big majority who are well versed in the etiquette of the net and who also have easy access to proofing facilities.

The editors are committed to a six-week turnaround in the review process. Articles are submitted in LaTex format, copy edited and corrected.

Accepted articles are thenpushed into production immediately and should be available to subscribers within two weeks.

The articles are placed in LaTex source format and Postscript in an archive on an MIT Press server, assessible by a variety of methods.

The journal will be archived at MIT Press to ensure its permanent availability.

The grant from the foundation will help MIT Press enlist libraries in the project, develop profiles of how the system is used and to distribute the results of the project to publishers at the end of the launch.

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