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The American Mathematical Society (AMS) has quite a few journals titled "(something) of the AMS".

The research journals include:

  • Journal of the AMS
  • Proceedings of the AMS
  • Transactions of the AMS
  • Memoirs of the AMS

How do these journals differ in terms of scope?

Some information about the roles of these journals can be found on the AMS journals website. However the only distinctions given are that JAMS is for "research articles of the highest quality," while PAMS, TAMS, and MAMS are for short, medium, and long articles respectively.

Are there further differentiations between these journals? If a mathematician wants to submit a paper to an AMS journal is the decision process for which one really as simple as "If my paper isn't good enough for JAMS I'll check its length and ship it off to the appropriate one of the other 3?"

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If a mathematician wants to submit a paper to an AMS journal is the decision process for which one really as simple as "If my paper isn't good enough for JAMS I'll check its length and ship it off to the appropriate one of the other 3?"

Yes, more or less. Journal of the AMS is a special case (as you observed) because of its extremely high level, and Memoirs of the AMS because it will consider incredibly long papers. In both cases, there are only a small number of competing journals with these properties. On the other hand, Transactions and Proceedings have substantially more competitors. The primary distinction between them is length, but from my perspective there's also a difference in prestige. Proceedings of the AMS gets some great submissions, but the length cut-off is pretty short for mathematics papers and this means it gets fewer great submissions than Transactions does, so the prestige level is a little lower. Other than length and prestige, they are pretty much identical, for example in topics covered (a broad spectrum of pure mathematics, but limited coverage of applied mathematics).

So for Proceedings/Transactions papers, there's a four step decision procedure:

  1. Is your paper on an appropriate topic? (To a first approximation: is it pure mathematics?)

  2. How long is your paper?

  3. Do you have a realistic shot at acceptance?

  4. Is the journal prestigious enough that you would be happy publishing your paper there?

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This is not an answer, but it is too long for a comment. I am not going to compare the quality and scope of the AMS journals, but I would like to share an experience. Once an editor of PAMS told me that he receives about 100 papers every year and he can only accept about 10 papers each year, so he has to reject so many of (good) submissions. My estimation is more than half of the submitted papers (to PAMS) contain some interesting results and deserve publication in a respectful journal, but most of them will be rejected, just because there are better papers.

Regarding this point of view, I think one should submit a paper to an AMS journal only if he is sure that his paper is among the top 10% papers submitted to the journal. Otherwise, he is wasting his time.

There are so many other nice mathematical journals which provide authors with professional services and have way less traffic.

  • One can't tell if your paper is among the top 10% of submitted papers, as the other 90% don't see the light of day (at least not in PAMS). One can only see if – Anonymous Apr 21 '13 at 20:28
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    I disagree that "he is wasting his time." Often an author is excited about a paper he has written and wants to make it as widely available as possible. If PAMS has a much wider circulation than other journals the author is considering, then perhaps he feels the possibility of rejection is worth the possibility of acceptance and lots of people reading his article. – Dan C Apr 21 '13 at 20:48
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    @DanC: I think submitting the paper to arXiv is the best way to reach the widest possible audience for a paper. – user4511 Apr 21 '13 at 21:10
  • @VahidShirbisheh Yes. I submit all of my papers to the arXiv. In addition I try to publish in journals with a wide readership. Many readers of the arXiv are different from readers of (for example) PAMS. – Dan C Apr 21 '13 at 21:16
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I found a paper Mathematical Journals by A.J. Hildebrand

  • Journal of the American Mathematical Society is one of the elite journals
  • Proceedings of the AMS and Transactions of the AMS are society journals come in pairs that have a single editorial board, and which complement each other in that one specializes in shorter articles, whereas the other publishes mainly longer articles

There are interesting descriptions for other math journals in that paper as well.

According to the Wiki page

Memoirs of the American Mathematical Society (ISSN 0065-9266) is a mathematical journal published in six volumes per year, totalling approximately 25 to 30 individually bound numbers, by the American Mathematical Society. It is intended to carry papers on new mathematical research between 80 and 200 pages in length. Usually, a bound number consists of a single paper, i.e., it is a monograph.

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    Transactions and proceedings do not have the same editorial boards, as can be seen from their web pages. – Benoît Kloeckner Apr 21 '13 at 14:55
  • I took a quick look at their editorial boards. Indeed, they are not the same. Transactions seems to have single person responsible for one field. Can somebody more knowledgable give us more insights? The paper was written in 2009. Did AMS make changes since then? – scaaahu Apr 22 '13 at 3:47
  • Replacement for the dead link in the answer: faculty.math.illinois.edu/~hildebr/reu2009/journals.pdf – just-learning Nov 22 '18 at 21:44
  • @just-learning Thank you for catching that. I updated the link. – scaaahu Nov 23 '18 at 4:12
  • I was on the editorial board of the Proceedings (long before 2009) but never on the editorial board of the Transactions. If the two ever had the same editorial boards, I'm pretty sure it must have been before I started submitting papers in the early 1970's. – Andreas Blass Nov 23 '18 at 4:40

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