Nature’s upcoming AI journal is being boycotted by thousands of researchers

Avatar By Tyler MacDonald | 2 years ago

The Springer Nature publishing group is launching a new subscription journal dedicated to artificial intelligence next year, and like its other journals, Nature is going to impose a pay wall. But AI researchers are not happy, suggesting that the field does not need a for-profit subscription journal right now.

The journal, called Nature Machine Intelligence, is set to launch January 2019 and will be headed by editor-in-chief Liesbeth Venema. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because Venema was a physics editor at Nature. It will cover “best research from across the field of artificial intelligence,” and will tap into “fast-moving” fields of AI, robotics, and machine learning.

But a petition launched by Tom Dietterich from the International Machine Learning Society and an Oregon University computer scientist suggests that much of the AI research community won’t be contributing to the journal.

The petition has gained over 3,000 signatures from locations all around the world, and includes the names of people affiliated with institutions like UC Berkeley, Harvard, Stanford, and Oxford, and companies like DeepMind, Microsoft, and Google.

According to the statement, journals should “principally serve the needs of the intellectual community, in particular by providing the immediate and universal access to journal articles that modern technology supports, and doing so at a cost that excludes no one,” adding that “virtually all of the major machine learning outlets…make no charge for access to or publication of papers.”

“The first journal in the field, Machine Learning, had expensive subscriptions and yet the publisher provided essentially no services to authors, such as proofreading or copy editing,” Dietterich said. “So many of us left that journal and started our own free and open-access research journal, the Journal of Machine Learning Research, which is the top journal in the machine learning field.”

“Conversely, our community does not have a tradition of publishing in Nature, so we are not giving anything up by boycotting Nature Machine Intelligence,” he added.