ACM SIGMOD Contribution Award 2003 Acceptance Speech

Thank you very much Marianne [Winslett],
thank you very much ACM SIGMOD.

For me it is a great honor and pleasure to receive this award. Additionally it is a strong incentive to continue work on CS publishing infrastructure. On the same time it may be a little bit unjustified to give the award to me, because SIGMOD Anthology and DBLP are real community efforts. Thousands of people helped to make them successful. There is a constant flow of input for DBLP. For the Anthology many people and organizations helped to collect the material, get the permissions, and contributed money. But the most important person to make the Anthology happen was Richard T. Snodgrass. - Rick, cooperation with you was really fun.

I try to run DBLP with low overhead, but I am not able to do it without money. The principle sponsor over the last years was Microsoft Research. Jim Gray is the person who made this possible - thank you very much.

I whould like to share with you a few thoughts about publishing in Computer Science ...

  1. Be critical:

    DBLP and all digital libraries contain errors, are imperfect and uncomplete - please help to improve them - they are YOUR tools.

    Counting publications, ranking people, conferences and journals is interesting and problematic on the same time. Always ask how these data were collected and try to interprete these noisy data very carefully.

    For DBLP my most important rule is to enter only entire volumes of proceedings and journals. I get a lot of publication lists by individuals, but I do not enter them. On the other side I encourage you to help me to get access to bibliographic information about proceedings or journals you consider important. Please read the DBLP FAQ.

    To understand the conference and journal ranking done by CiteSeer, which is based on a combination of DBLP and CiteSeer data, you must take into consideration that CiteSeer only counts citations from papers it is able to load from free internet sources. This may not be a representative sample.

  2. Think about economics:

    In the recent issue of the ACM MemberNet newsletter there was a letter to the editor with the demand to make ACM DL a free resource. ACM CEO John White answered that this will not be possible. For me this discussion is too much black & white:

    • YES - all should be free.
    • YES - organizations like ACM or the Computer Society need money to run their DLs.
    • YES - we need the services of commercial publishers, for example LNCS is very successful.
    • YES - some publications are too expensive: Several journals are no longer a medium of dissemination and preservation of ideas - they are degenerated to "write only journals".
    • YES - free publications are cited more frequently - read the small Nature article by the CiteSeer people.
    I have no solution to these problems, but the CS communities should experiment with more flexible business models for publications. A few examples:
    • Some large conferences pay with the help of industrial sponsors for the free publication of their proceedings.
    • In some cases page fees or paper fees might be appropriate for electronic journals.
    • Usenix Association gives free access to 'old' publications, new ones are only accessible for members. I wish this model to be adopted by large societies and publishers.
    I hope this stimulates discussion.

Thank you for your attention.

Michael Ley

June 11, 2003
San Diego, California, USA