The editorial board of the Journal of Algorithms has resigned en masse, to protest what they call price-gouging by Elsevier, the company that publishes the journal. The journal’s annual subscription price had risen to $700, which is beyond the reach of many libraries, not to mention individuals.
The resigning board includes very distinguished computer scientists such as Donald Knuth. They have announced their intention to work on a new journal, Transactions on Algorithms, to be published by ACM, the leading professional society for computer scientists.
It’s surprising that this sort of thing doesn’t happen more often. The value of a journal comes from the quality of articles in it; and this quality derives mostly from the reputations of the editorial board members and the work they do in choosing and editing articles. If a journal’s management takes a direction that the scientists on the editorial board don’t like, there is something they can do about it!
Elsevier says they will find a new board and continue publishing the journal, but it’s hard to imagine that anybody in the field will take it seriously anymore.
Computer scientists are lucky, in that most of our best journals and conference proceedings are published by our professional societies at reasonable prices and terms. The new Transactions on Algorithms will be yet another example.