AI Researchers Boycott Nature Machine Intelligence Journal

AsianScientist (Apr. 30, 2018) – Researchers working on artificial intelligence (AI) are rallying behind a statement calling for a boycott of nature machine intelligencea closed-access journal that will only be launched in January 2019.

To facilitate the communication and dissemination of scientific findings, the first science journals emerged in the 1600s, serving as dedicated platforms by which academics could broadcast specialist and technical research findings to a wider audience. The value that science journals bring to the research community is still acknowledged in the present day. However, the commercial practices that have been built around the enterprise of science publication—especially paywalls that prevent public access—have come under criticism by academics and scientists.

Nature Publishing Group, which belongs to the international scientific publishing company Springer Nature, is the latest to receive pushback from researchers as it announced its new title, nature machine intelligence, which, according to the journal’s website, “will publish research from a wide range of topics in machine learning, robotics and AI.” The latest addition to the Nature brand of journals will be launched in January 2019 but is already facing a call for boycott by the research community it hopes to serve.

Professor Thomas G. Dietterich, distinguished professor at Oregon State University (OSU) and past president of the Association for the Advancement of AI, has posted a statement on OSU’s website calling on researchers in the field of AI to withhold submissions to nature machine intelligenceas well as decline offers to review or edit for the new journal.

“We see no role for closed access or author-fee publication in the future of machine learning research and believe the adoption of this new journal as an outlet of record for the machine learning community would be a retrograde step. In contrast, we would welcome new zero-cost open access (OA) journals and conferences in AI and machine learning,” the statement said.

Since it went live on April 28, 2018, the statement has garnered more than 1,600 signatories from around the world at the time of writing, including scientists from India, China and Korea in Asia. Among the signatories is Professor Yann LeCun, director of AI research at Facebook.

Dietterich also took to Twitter to rally support for the boycott, tweeting:

“Several machine learning researchers have signed a statement regarding the upcoming launch of nature machine intelligence. If you agree, I encourage you to sign this as well.”

David Ha, a research scientist at Google Brain Tokyo who goes by the Twitter handle @hardmaru, tweeted: “Wow, @Nature might become a 3rd-tier journal for machine learning research. Publish there at your own peril.”

nature machine intelligence has responded to Dietrich on Twitter with the following statement:

“We respect your position and appreciate the role of OA journals and arXiv. We feel nature machine intelligence can co-exist, providing a service—for those who are interested—by connecting different fields, providing an outlet for interdisciplinary work and guiding a rigorous review process.”

Support for OA logs has grown in recent years, and repositories of electronic preprint archives such as arXiv and bioRxiv have also gained popularity. Additionally, the AI ​​community is committed to openly sharing their research methodologies and findings, with ground-up, non-profit initiatives such as AI Saturdays becoming commonplace across multiple geographies.

Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photo: Shutterstock.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

James G. Williams