[1204.1351] Mathematicians take a stand

Abstract:  We survey the reasons for the ongoing boycott of the publisher Elsevier. We examine Elsevier’s pricing and bundling policies, restrictions on dissemination by authors, and lapses in ethics and peer review, and we conclude with thoughts about the future of mathematical publishing.

End of the Journal of K-Theory: An Open Letter from Editors

“We announce our collective resignation from the Editorial Board of the Journal of K-Theory, effective after volume 14, at the end of 2014. We invite librarians to reconsider their subscriptions in view of the situation and we invite our colleagues to forward this letter as widely as possible. We present our sincere apologies to all authors who might be impacted by these events. We are currently working hard to minimize the fallout. A new journal, called Annals of K-Theory, is being set up. Further announcements will follow in due course….”

Recommendation on the evaluation of individual researchers in the mathematical sciences

“Nothing (and in particular no semi-automatized pseudo-scientific evaluation that involves numbers or data) can replace evaluation by an individual who actually understands what he/she is evaluating. Furthermore, tools such as impact factors are clearly not helpful or relevant in the context of mathematical research….”

Peer review: the end of an error?

“It is not easy to have a paper published in the Lancet, so Wakefield’s paper presumably underwent a stringent process of peer review. As a result, it received a very strong endorsement from the scientific community. This gave a huge impetus to anti-vaccination campaigners and may well have led to hundreds of preventable deaths. By contrast, the two mathematics ­preprints were not peer reviewed, but that did not stop the correctness or otherwise of their claims being satisfactorily established.

An obvious objection to that last sentence is that the mathematics preprints were in fact peer-reviewed. They may not have been sent to referees by the editor of a journal, but they certainly were carefully scrutinized by peers of the authors. So to avoid any confusion, let me use the phrase “formal peer review” for the kind that is organized by a journal and “informal peer review” for the less official scrutiny that is carried out whenever an academic reads an article and comes to some sort of judgement on it. My aim here is to question whether we need formal peer review. It goes without saying that peer review in some form is essential, but it is much less obvious that it needs to be organized in the way it usually is today, or even that it needs to be organized at all.

What would the world be like without formal peer review? One can get some idea by looking at what the world is already like for many mathematicians. These days, the arXiv is how we disseminate our work, and the arXiv is how we establish priority. A typical pattern is to post a preprint to the arXiv, wait for feedback from other mathematicians who might be interested, post a revised version of the preprint, and send the revised version to a journal. The time between submitting a paper to a journal and its appearing is often a year or two, so by the time it appears in print, it has already been thoroughly assimilated. Furthermore, looking a paper up on the arXiv is much simpler than grappling with most journal websites, so even after publication it is often the arXiv preprint that is read and not the journal’s formatted version. Thus, in mathematics at least, journals have become almost irrelevant: their main purpose is to provide a stamp of approval, and even then one that gives only an imprecise and unreliable indication of how good a paper actually is….

An alternative system would almost certainly not be perfect, but to insist on perfection, given the imperfections of the current system, is nothing but status quo bias. To guard against this, imagine that an alternative system were fully established and see whether you can mount a convincing argument for switching to what we have now, where all the valuable commentary would be hidden away and we would have to pay large sums of money to read each other’s writings. You would be laughed out of court.”

Math journal editors resign to start rival open-access journal

“The four editors in chief of the Journal of Algebraic Combinatorics have informed their publisher, Springer, of their intention to launch a rival open-access journal to protest the publisher’s high prices and limited accessibility. This is the latest in a string of what one observer called “editorial mutinies” over journal publishing policies….”


MathOA is an organization modelled on LingOA, aimed at facilitating and accelerating the switch to open access publishing in mathematics (broadly interpreted), using the principles of what we call Fair Open Access (more details). To this end, we investigate publishers, obtain guaranteed funding, offer legal help, and generally try to simplify the job of editors in switching their existing subscription journal to a modern, community-controlled OA platform. We have substantial practical experience in running  journals and converting them to open access. MathOA is a member of the Fair Open Access Alliance….”

Journal of Algebraic Combinatorics flips to Fair Open Access

“At the end of June 2017, the four editors-in-chief of the Journal of Algebraic Combinatorics

informed Springer that they will not renew their contracts, which terminate on 31 December 2017.

Nearly all of the editorial board members will also resign, to form the editorial board of a new

journal that will be called Algebraic Combinatorics, run according to Fair Open Access Principles.

The new journal Algebraic Combinatorics will be up and running very shortly, with interim editorsin-chief

Satoshi Murai and Vic Reiner. The transition to Fair Open Access is supported by the

organisation Mathematics in Open Access (MathOA)….”

Open Textbook Initiative | American Inst. of Mathematics

“The American Institute of Mathematics (AIM) seeks to encourage the adoption of open source and open access mathematics textbooks. The AIM Editorial Board has developed evaluation criteria to identify the books that are suitable for use in traditional university courses. The Editorial Board maintains a list of Approved Textbooks which have been judged to meet these criteria….”

The Transition to Open Access: The State of the Market, Offsetting Deals, and a Demonstrated Model for Fair Open Access with the Open Library of Humanities

Abstract: In this article, we explore the state of the OA market and the current situation with respect to offsetting deals in the Netherlands. We then offer a case study of the LingOA model for a transition to open access, backed by a consortial funding mechanism: the Open Library of Humanities (OLH). We also suggest how this approach can be extended into new disciplinary spaces (in particular, mathematics and psychology, where there is already some willingness from editors).

Ebooks, Innovation, and the Rebel Within – The Scholarly Kitchen

“As with all good innovators, Peter [Krautzberger, project lead for MathJax] is frustrated. He feels, for example, that advocates of open science focus heavily on sharing of supposedly neutral data, but are still not able to see beyond the PDF. For him open science should be more about how the Web can facilitate communications….”