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New Overlay Journal

A mathematician has launched an overlay journal that will link to papers housed at arXiv, Nature News reports. Researchers will submit papers to Discrete Analysis from arXiv and the journal will evaluate them through a conventional peer review process, it adds.

With such an approach, Timothy Gowers from the University of Cambridge — a winner of the Fields Medal — says the cost of running a journal will drop.

"Part of the motivation for starting the journal is, of course, to challenge existing models of academic publishing and to contribute in a small way to creating an alternative and much cheaper system," Gowers says in a blog post launching the journal. "If you trust authors to do their own typesetting and copy-editing to a satisfactory standard, with the help of suggestions from referees, then the cost of running a mathematics journal can be at least two orders of magnitude lower than the cost incurred by traditional publishers."

Discrete Analysis' costs are some $10 per article — the fee to use the Scholastica software for managing peer review and developing journal websites, Nature News says. A grant from Cambridge, it adds, will cover the cost of the first 500 submissions to the new journal. After that, Gowers says he may seek additional funding or ask for a submission fee. And, of course, the journal relies upon the continued operation of arXiv.

Nature News notes that overlay journals aren't new to the field of mathematics, and Gowers says the approach could be extended to other scientific areas. "For many subjects, where articles are almost purely text and nearly all authors know how to produce nice documents in [the typesetting system] LaTeX, this model should work," he tells Nature News.