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Steps to Perfect Journal

14 Steps to the Perfect CS Journal?
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Chris Leonard,
Publishing Editor within Elsevier with responsibility for theoretical computer science journals.
E: c.leonard AT
OK - imagine for one crazy moment that I am in charge of Elsevier and I was about to embark upon a mission to make our journals the most attractive place to publish for computer scientists. What qualities would that journal (or journals) need to have?Having spoken to many people in the last year, I have come to the conclusion that the following points are (more or less) important. If I have missed any, please let me know.
  1. FREE ACCESS - at least at the point of use. Subscribers access the journal for 1 year, then all articles are available to everyone who wants them?

  2. DIGITAL PRESERVATION - the profileration of electronic journals is all well and good, but they need to be available in 100 years time. This could be done by independent 3rd parties.

  3. UPDATEABLE ARTICLES - following the example of versions on arXiv, authors should be able to update their articles whenever new date or results are available. Old versions remain available as well.

  4. BETTER PEER REVIEW - open, on-going peer review. Anyone can comment on an article and suggest improvements or point out inaccuracies. Maybe also worth adopting something like F1000 or this reviewer rating system.

  5. SOME PROFIT - a commercial company needs to make a profit to survive. What would be an acceptable level of profit to make (after tax)? Any excess could go to reducing the costs of the journal subscriptions.

  6. INTERACTIVE ARTICLES - apart from readers being able to leave comments on an article, it would be nice to see some real functionality in CS articles. Maybe raw data for manipulation within Mathematica or Maple?

  7. RAW DATA - all articles to have raw data available on the web in an open, interchangeable format.

  8. INSTANT PUBLISHING - if we adopt a model whereby people can comment on articles when they are published, peer-review becomes an constant, ongoing process. Authors may choose to make sure the paper is refereed before submission. When the editor evaluates a submission, he or she is simply making sure it makes sense and is in the right journal - a 10 minute process, eliminating the need for lengthy review processes.

  9. OPTIONAL PRINT - electronic journals with an optional print version available for a small fee.

  10. RSS FEEDS - all journals to have RSS feeds for Table of Contents.

  11. SOCIAL SOFTWARE - allow users to tag articles to create a folksonomy (good for discovering articles from other journals you wouldn’t normal consult). Adopt things like ‘interestingness’ but for journal articles.

  12. SEARCH ENGINES - abstract or full-text indexed in all search engines.

  13. ADVISORY BOARD - alongside an editorial board, an advisory board of scientists and librarians to suggest and comment on new directions for publishing the journal.

  14. CUSTOMER SERVICE - available via email, but also Skype, instant messaging etc. A regular weblog from this source would also help keep interested parties updated on what is happening behind the scences.

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