Illinois Journal of Mathematics low-cost leader among math journals ( Fall 2003 Math Times)

As described in articles in the Fall 2002 and Spring 2003 issues of Math Times, the Illinois Journal of Mathematics has undergone a major overhaul of its operation during the past several years, aimed at saving costs by streamlining the production and distribution process, while at the same time raising the technical and scientific quality of the journal.

These changes have led to drastically reduced production costs, a saving that has been passed on to subscribers. As a result, the IJM has become the low-cost leader among mainstream math journals, as shown by the most recent AMS Journal Price survey.

Among all 263 print journals included in the survey, the IJM was ranked 5th lowest in terms of price per page, and lowest among "mainstream" mathematical journals (the only journals with a lower cost per page figure are two publications by the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, the Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic, and Demonstratio Mathematica, a journal published by Warsaw University).

The price per page for the IJM is half that of the Transactions of the American Mathematical Society, one fourth that of the Journal of the London Mathematical Society, and one tenth that of some well-known commercial journals, such as Inventiones Mathematicae.

Other measures also put the IJM at or near the bottom of the price/value range. For instance, the annual subscription price for the IJM is second lowest among all print journals publishing more than 1000 pages per year (behind Annals of Applied Probability); and the IJM is one of only 28 out of 263 print journals whose cost per page has decreased over the past 8 years, and it has one of the highest rates of decrease among those journals.

The AMS Journal Price Survey is available at http://www.ams.org/membership/journal-survey.html, and in sorted form (by price per page) at http://www.mathematik.uni-bielefeld.de/~rehmann/BIB/AMS/Price_Per_Page.html ). The latter site, created by Ulf Rehmann of Bielefeld University, also contains links to other sorted versions of the AMS Survey.

Although operating under the auspices of the University of Illinois, the IJM is supported entirely through subscription costs and receives no subsidies from the University or the Mathematics Department. In fact, the IJM provides a significant benefit to the University in the form of exchange subscriptions to several hundred journals which the Mathematics library receives at no cost.

By keeping its subscription costs low, the IJM has been able to avoid erosions in subscriptions that many higher priced publishers have experienced in recent years. As a result, the IJM is in excellent financial shape and one of the few units within the University of Illinois that are not suffering from the current economic downturn.

The table below shows the subscription prices of some well-known mathematics journals. Page and price figures are for the year 2001, the most recent year for which complete data are available.

Journal Publisher Pages/year Price/year (US$) Price/page (US$)
Illinois J. Math. UIUC Dept. of Math. 1420 135 0.10
Indiana Univ. Math. J. Indiana Univ. Math. Dept. 2177 225 0.10
Pacific J. Math. Pacific J. Math. 2551 310 0.12
Ann. of Math. Princeton Univ. Press 1606 235 0.14
Michigan Math. J. Univ. Michigan Math. Dept. 620 120 0.19
Trans. Amer. Math. Soc. Amer. Math. Soc. 5184 1251 0.24
Canad. J. Math. Canad. Math. Soc. 1339 460 0.34
J. London Math. Soc. London Math. Soc. 1536 700 0.45
Duke Math. J. Duke Univ. Press 3040 1390 0.46
Compositio Math. Kluwer 1807 1214 0.67
J. Reine Angew. Math. Walter de Gruyter 2811 2295 0.82
Invent. Math. Springer-Verlag 2628 2763 1.05
Comm. Pure Appl. Math. Wiley 1520 1995 1.26