JMLR is a success

In 2001, the “Journal of Machine Learning Research” was created in reaction to unadaptive publisher policies at MLJ. Essentially, with the creation of the internet, the bottleneck in publishing research shifted from publishing to research. The declaration of independence accompanying this move expresses the reasons why in greater detail.

MLJ has strongly changed its policy in reaction to this. In particular, there is no longer an assignment of copyright to the publisher (*), and MLJ regularly sponsors many student “best paper awards” across several conferences with cash prizes. This is an advantage of MLJ over JMLR: MLJ can afford to sponsor cash prizes for the machine learning community. The remaining disadvantage is that reading papers in MLJ sometimes requires searching for the author’s website where the free version is available. In contrast, JMLR articles are freely available to everyone off the JMLR website. Whether or not this disadvantage cancels the advantage is debatable, but essentially no one working on machine learning argues with the following: the changes brought by the creation of JMLR have been positive for the general machine learning community.

This model can and should be emulated in other areas of research where publishers are not behaving in a sufficiently constructive manner. Doing so requires two vital ingredients: a consensus of leaders to support a new journal and the willigness to spend the time and effort setting it up. Presumably, some lessons on how to do this have been learned by the editors of JMLR and they are willing to share it.

(*) Back in the day, it was typical to be forced to sign over all rights to your journal paper, then ignore this and place it on your homepage. The natural act of placing your paper on your webpage is no longer illegal.

13 Replies to “JMLR is a success”

  1. IMHO research journals are going extinct anyway, JMLR included. The reason they are alive is only because they offer peer reviewing. As soon as web repositories like arXiv and citeseer introduce some non-compulsory semi-automated peer review the journals will wither. But JMLR did a good job, to be sure.

  2. I disagree. I think that journals are so entrenched in the scientific culture (e.g. hiring, tenure, promotion decisions; but I think that it runs deeper than this) that there will remain a long-term place for journals. I still see many learning researchers sending their completed projects to JMLR.

  3. Does a journal publication matter that much, especially in the CS world where many people dont care as much for journals as they used to in the past?

    After graduation, (in most cases) I only send a paper to a good conference (ICML/NIPS/UAI etc qualify in this category). Only if there is a lot of material and I find it difficult to compress it into 8 odd pages does it make sense for me to send it to a journal.

    The long time to review/revise papers puts me off completely, and I dont see much additional readership for a journal version beyond what a NIPS paper would get.

    Finally, in my opinion, we should start viewing the paper as only an *advertisement* for the real product in most cases (the final product could be software for instance). The paper itself is useless to the world if people dont start using it. Usage could be either directly as software, or by building on its ideas (main contributions) to develop better algorithms, perhaps in completely different contexts.

    Thus, it makes sense to allow software also to be published electronically along with the paper (as JMLR does, although NIPS/ICML do not); Although it may sound controversial, I would even go to the extent of *requiring* code and all the datasets to be public since it makes for transparent and reproducible research.

  4. Does anyone know the review turn-around time at JMLR? Is it comparable to JAIR’s (7-9 weeks)?

  5. JMLR has been sitting on my paper for 3+ months now, but they’ve still got about 9 more months before they will be as slow as MLJ! Something is bound to change sooner or later. Science can’t possibly be content waiting like this.

  6. Same story in my case (long wait). They have metioned that they are commited for rapid publication. But it is taking
    quite long time.

  7. In my case, it was 9! months for JMLR to answer. Is this “rapid”?

  8. Now it’s 5 months. will be really pissed off if it ends rejected. 🙁

  9. Very slow….. Almost two years and still not published after two rounds of reviews.

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