Timothy Gowers and Daniel Kráľ join forces to launch innovative open-access journal.
The traditional route of publishing scientific results in printed journals is funded by subscribers, most of which comprise university libraries. One may access online versions of articles via the web portals of publishers, however, to do so, it is first necessary to purchase a subscription. These considerable subscription fees, which are typically in the range of hundreds of dollars for a single issue of a journal published by a large commercial publisher, generate significant profits for commercial publishers, usually in the range between 20% and 40% of their revenue. Moreover, this model of publishing restricts the access of articles only to those who subscribe to the journal, impeding the free access of information to the wider scientific community.
In 2012, Gowers founded the boycott initiative Elsevier, which resulted in a discussion on open access publishing: a model of publishing scientific results in such a way that they are available to the entire scientific community free of charge. However, open access publishing can be done in various ways: the most well-known are the Green and Golden Routes. The Green Route means that authors can store a version of their article in a public repository (in computer science, mathematics and physics, it is standard to use the arXiv repository - https://arxiv.org/). This version is freely accessible but the published manuscript itself is not. The Green Route is not considered to comply with open access requirements by some funding bodies. The Golden Route means that authors will pay an additional publication fee for making their article freely available in an online version of the journal. These fees, which are in the order of thousands of dollars per article, form another source of income for traditional publishing houses. In 2018, Science Europe, an association of European science foundations, announced the so-called Plan S initiative, that would see most results required to be published in an open-access way. However, the Golden Route would impose additional costs for research institutions in the form of publication fees, while the funding spent on publication fees could be better used for scientific work. It is worth noting that editors and reviewers usually provide their services free of charge to commercial publishers.
The Diamond Route of open access publishing is an alternative to the Golden Route promoted by a part of the scientific community, to the displeasure of some commercial publishers.The Diamond Route means that journals do not charge any fees from neither the authors nor the readers, or their fees are merely symbolic (in the order of tens of dollars) in order to cover the necessary costs. In June 2018, Professor Daniel Kráľ from the Faculty of Informatics of Masaryk University, together with Professor Timothy Gowers from Cambridge University founded a new journal, Advances in Combinatorics. The journal should serve as a Diamond Route open-access alternative for top quality research journals in combinatorics (such as Combinatorica), which are currently published by commercial publishers. The first issue of Advances in Combinatorics has just appeared - https://www.advancesincombinatorics.com/articles. The quality of published manuscripts is very high - many deal with well-known and long-standing open problems. The editorial team led by Professors Gowers and Kráľ is looking forward to other similarly high-quality contributions that will appear in the next issue of the journal in the near future.
Advances in Combinatorics functions as an overlay journal. All articles submitted to an overlay journal undergo a rigorous review process, and the final version of the accepted publication is stored in a freely accessible repository with a link from the journal website. In the case of Advances in Combinatorics, this repository is arXiv. All journal articles are also assigned DOI, a globally used identifier for digital objects (such as electronic versions of manuscripts). The cost of running the journal, which is in the order of tens of dollars per article, is covered by Queen's University Library. This Canadian university is a long time supporter of open access publishing. The vision of the editors is that other high quality journals could be inspired by the Diamond Route open-access publishing model of Advances in Combinatorics and its sister journal Discrete Analysis. Expanding publishing in the form of a Diamond Route open-access would save high costs related to scientific publishing, with the saved funding directed to scientific work instead. We are proud that one of our professors at the Faculty of Informatics of Masaryk University is one of the two managing editors of the journal.