Would a Journal like "Journal of Agent-based Complex Systems (JACS)" survive?

Dear all,

I think many of us agree that having a journal that is devoted to both ABM and general system theory referring to “Agent-based Complex Systems” would be very useful. It would foster exchange of expertise, ideas, concepts, and theories among different disciplines, for example social sciences (economics, political sciences, sociology), archeaology, ecology, physics, etc. It would contribute to make ABM a more unified and unifying tool, and it would contribute to the emergence of a new general science of Agent-based Complex Systems.

On the other hand we are all aware of the problem that concepts, terminologies (=jargon), attitudes towards modelling and theory, and many other things usually are so different among disciplines that communication can be hard or even impossible.

And, since we all depend on getting our papers published as visible (and, which sometimes, but not always, is the same: as prestiguous) as possible, we might rather prefer to submit our stuff to disciplinary journals.

So, the two questions regarding a general ABM/ACS journal are:

  • who would read (and cite) it?
  • who would contribute, and why?

My colleague Hans Thulke (UFZ Leipzig) and me are seriously considering the idea of running - together with an interdisciplinary and dedicated team - a new journal that is both interdisciplinary and devoted to ABMs and Agent-based Complex Systems. The idea is to run an online journal, for example via BMC (BioMed Central; http://www.biomedcentral.com/browse/journals/); some of their journals are quite successful; or, if possible, via PLoS (http://www.plos.org/journals/index.html).

Our first step is to collect as much feedback to this idea as possible. We would also be grateful for suggestions of similar forums where we could post our idea and questions.


Volker Grimm & Hans Thulke, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, [email protected]; [email protected]

By agent-based complex systems, do you mean having the goal of creating ‘artificial’ complex systems via agent based simulations–i.e., to study how complex systems operate? Or do you mean using agent-based simulation to create computer models of real-world complex systems, in order to study these real world systems? The goal would affect the potential readership.

Michael Barton
School of Human Evolution & Social Change
Center for Social Dynamics & Complexity
Arizona State University

I think that a journal devoted to methodological issues, instead of applications, would be useful for a broad audience. Applications might be more relevant to disciplinary journals. An ABM methodology journal may discuss issues like:

  • calibrating and validating ABM
  • implementation issues of ABM (like floating point problems, etc)
  • platforms, developments and comparisons
  • running abm of the grid, super computer, etc.
  • replication of abms
  • how to do sensitivity analysis with abm in a useful way
  • large scale abm (100,000s of agents)
  • abm and gis connection

so this is more an operations research type of journal. As a OR trained person I would be reading and citing and contributing to such a journal.


I think starting out a few issues a year would be good. Maybe quarterly? Biannually?

How do we get something like this going?


Why not two or three sections to see a) the methodologies, b) the applications and c) maybe the more aesoteric aspects? Or just the first two.

There are two issues that seem to re-occur in my circles:

  1. ABM and CAS methodologies, validation, verification, etc.
  2. Basic applications for ABM and proof of concept(s) for complex adaptive systems…bringing these kinds of approaches to “JoeScientist” (this means the average, non-technical ABM wanna-be user).

The second issue comes up more since I’m not a modeler and the first issue comes up only when I’m interacting with modelers who we work with.

The second issue is very important because it will ultimately drive the groundswell that will bring this kind of thinking into the mainstream.

So my suggestion:
A journal split between the two, with sections that are accessible and interesting to a broader array of users…



Just kidding.

Who would read it?
See my previous comment, both modelers and interested scientists who are increasingly hearing about these approaches.

Who would contribute/cite?
Hopefully a wide range of users, we could even have a section that was “Advancing Theory” which would include new concepts, hypotheses etc. following off proof of concept.
Why would anybody contribute? Because this is a promising way of thinking and there are many people who encapsulate it differently resulting in a huge diversity of perspective.

An example: I remember hearing about the Journal of Complexity and telling my next door neighbour at work (a social landscape ecologist) and we pulled it up online. Okay, interesting, looks math-y. Then we pulled up an article and voila! It was all in Greek. Literally, I think there were very few “words” from a spoken linguistic point of view, they were Math Words.

Well that made it inaccessible (disappointing). JASSS runs some interesting, understandable articles but we publish in journals like Global Environmental Change and Society and Natural Resources where I think we’re rather on the fringe (maybe not, just judging by reviewers’ comments).