I am an assistant editor of the math journal published by our department. This is a small journal, circa 15 years old, with two issues each year, and impact factor close to zero. Usually, my main job is to send out invitations to people in my field to submit survey papers to our journal.

A couple of years ago we were approached by a big publishing house interested in publishing our journal. The invitation is still pending. I am not very aware of the conditions yet, as I entered the editorial board just a few months ago. There is going to be a meeting of the board soon, to discuss this matter, and I was looking for some opinions and input from more experienced people here in Mathoverflow.

I am aware of the polemics around the surge in prices of subscriptions of academic journals, Elsevier's boycott, resignation of the editorial board of Topology, etc. Given this situation, I would like our journal to move in the "right' direction, whatever that means.

What are the advantages of accepting the offer? The big publisher of course offers a professional framework including distribution, advertisement, etc. On the other hand, we will be just one more journal among hundreds of journals published by that company.
Then there is the question of the mode of distribution: I think they offer both open access or regular subscription. It seems to me that open access, with article processing charges, would make no sense for our small journal.

Our ultimate goal is, as always, to receive more submissions to our journal (and as a consequence raise standards and enlarge our readership), but also contribute to the effort to improve publishing businesses practices.

I have posted this on meta but it could be moved to MO if people find appropriate.

  • $\begingroup$ This may sound confronting, but your real aim is to disseminate your authors' work as widely as possible. More subscriptions is but one way... I don't know the size or cost of running your journal, but it's always worth looking at blogs.law.harvard.edu/pamphlet/2012/03/06/an-efficient-journal and perhaps talking to Shieber about it. Also, open access $\not=$ (APC $\gt 0$), in general. $\endgroup$ May 24, 2014 at 2:20
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    $\begingroup$ Whatever you do, don't agree to anything that you can't change down the track. Keep ownership of the title, and make sure there is an arrangement under which you could move to a different publisher. $\endgroup$ May 24, 2014 at 4:09
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    $\begingroup$ You may also get good answers on academia.stackexchange.com. $\endgroup$ May 24, 2014 at 5:33
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I think academia SE would be a good fit. It is clearly offtopic here since it is not about MO. $\endgroup$ May 24, 2014 at 7:50
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    $\begingroup$ This question appears to be off-topic on MathOverflow Meta because it is not about MathOverflow. It rather should be migrated either to MathOverflow (main site), or to academia.stackexchange.com. $\endgroup$
    – Stefan Kohl Mod
    May 24, 2014 at 9:35
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with @StefanKohl the question is off topic for meta (though I appreciate the idea behind asking here rather than on main). However I disagree that it should be migrated anywhere. OP might decide to ask it on academia.SE but I would consider it as better to rework the question a bit before doing so. Further the best fit for this question seems anyway the board that Felipe Voloch mentioned. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    May 24, 2014 at 12:37
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    $\begingroup$ This question appears to be off-topic because it is about publishing of a mathematical journal (as opposed to about MathOverflow). For such subjects there is a dedicated board mentioned by Felipe Voloch. [Sorry for two comments, the second one is semiautomatic from the closure reason.] $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    May 24, 2014 at 12:41
  • $\begingroup$ On the subject: a main reason for maintaining such a journal in the first place can be to have something to trade in subscription by exchange programms. This might not be possible anymore when passing to a large publisher (though I don't know if this is the case and if it applies in your situation at all). $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    May 24, 2014 at 12:53
  • $\begingroup$ @David: the story about JMLR is very interesting! $\endgroup$ May 24, 2014 at 13:29
  • $\begingroup$ @David: costs are very low. As I see it, one main reason to have our own journal is to make some advertisement of our department. $\endgroup$ May 24, 2014 at 13:39
  • $\begingroup$ @quid: right, we have used it to trade in subscription. However, this could in principle be negotiated with Springer. $\endgroup$ May 24, 2014 at 13:41

1 Answer 1


It depends on the publisher, I think. If it's Elsevier, then no. If it's Springer, I don't know but you can ask the editors of the Boletim da SBM what their experience is. Be careful with Hindawi, they are weird. I agree that user-pays open access is bad. Check out http://publishing.mathforge.org/

  • $\begingroup$ As another example, Journal of Homotopy and Related Structures did some bouncing around before landing at Springer, see tcms.org.ge/Journals/JHRS. $\endgroup$ May 24, 2014 at 2:17
  • $\begingroup$ Also, my university subscribes to Springer (pretty much in toto), but not to JHRS (irritating for me, and we "can't afford to" despite its low cost). So even if a journal moves to Springer it may not automatically get picked up in packages. $\endgroup$ May 24, 2014 at 2:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Felipe: it is Springer. Thanks for the link to publishing..mathforge! $\endgroup$ May 24, 2014 at 13:30
  • $\begingroup$ That forum is getting closed: publishing.mathforge.org/discussion/202/closure-of-the-forum/… $\endgroup$ Nov 23, 2017 at 12:55
  • $\begingroup$ Is there anywhere to read about that weird side of Hindawi? $\endgroup$ Nov 23, 2017 at 12:57

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