AMS Journals—Better than Ever

October 20, 2016 · 0 comments

by Keith Seitter, AMS Executive Director, and Michael Friedman, AMS Journals Production Manager

It is interesting how quickly bad news travels, isn’t it? Conversely, good news seems to barely propagate at all if left to its own devices. Changing long-held impressions is even harder, and in some cases, even overwhelming evidence can barely make a dent. As an example, let’s turn to the terrific news coming out of the AMS Publications Commission meeting last May that seems to be taking a long time to filter effectively into the community.

The news at the meeting was universally positive and record setting on nearly every front—from the 3,436 manuscript submissions received in 2015, to the 65-day average time to first decision for those submissions, to the time to publication of accepted manuscripts, which has gone from an all-time low of 95 days in 2015 to the 2016 average (so far) of just 74 days. This is a huge improvement (~72%) from the dark days of 2008, when that metric was well over 200 days.

The dramatic recent drop in time to publication is due in large part to the 2016 transition to a continuous publication model in which each individual article is published online when it reaches final form, instead of waiting until there is a whole issue’s worth of material. The AMS Publications staff tries to take advantage of every potential efficiency improvement it can to drive the time to publication even lower.

These records are just the latest data points mapping a trajectory of continued growth and improvement on all fronts over the past several years, thanks to the efforts of many dedicated volunteers and professional staff, along with effective implementation of technological advances. Meanwhile, AMS publications have maintained the very high quality that has always been their hallmark.  AMS journals continue to rank among the best in the world in our subject areas, and their impact also increased as measured by several objective metrics.

We are doing our best to let the author community know about the excellent performance of the AMS journals on all fronts so that they will not avoid publishing their work with AMS due to concerns based on incorrect impressions. As noted above, however, this can be a frustratingly slow process, and overriding long-held impressions is not easy (we still hear from authors who complain about color charges even though those were eliminated three years ago).

Help us spread the good news. If it has been awhile since you have published in AMS journals, you will be pleased with the improved work flow and speed to publication that we currently provide. If you are considering doing so for the first time, know that along with the prestige and quality that have always been associated with AMS publications, we are able to offer a path to publication much faster than ever before.

(A version of this post appeared in AMS Executive Director Keith Seitter’s 45 Beacon column in the August 2016 BAMS)