Noncommutative Analysis

Tag: Journals

Something sweet for the new year

Tim Gowers recently announced the start of a new journal, “Discrete Analysis”. The sweet thing about this journal is that it is an arxiv overlay journal, meaning that the journal will act like most other elctronic journals with the difference that all it does in the end (after standard peer review and editorial decisions) is put up a link on its website to a certain version of the preprint on the arxiv. The costs are so low, that neither readers nor authors are supposed to pay. In the beginning, Cambridge University will cover the costs of this particular journal, and there are hopes that funding will be found later (of course, arxiv has to be funded as well, but this does not seem to incur additional costs on arxiv). The journal uses a platform called Scholastica (which does charge something, but relatively low – like $10 per paper) so they did not have to set up their webpage and deal with that kind of stuff.

The idea has been around for several years and there are several other platforms (some of which do not charge anything since they are publicly funded) for carrying journals like this: Episciences, Open Journals. It seems like analysis, and operator theory in particular, are a little behind in these initiatives (correct me if I am wrong). But I am not worried, this is a matter of time.

The news of the baby journal made me especially happy since leaders like Gowers and Tao have been previously involved with the creation of the bad-idea-author-pay-journals Forum of Mathematics (Pi and Sigma), and it is great that their stature is also harnessed for a decent journal (which also happens to have a a nice and reasonable name).

Worse than Elsevier

Recently, I received the following email:

Dear Dr. Shalit,

I am writing to inquire whether you have received our previous email inviting you to submit an article to the Special Issue on “Uncertain Dynamical Systems: Analysis and Applications,” which will be published in Abstract and Applied Analysis, and the deadline for submission is October 19th, 2012.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,

************

To this, I replied:

Dear ************,
I am sorry, I did not realized that you were waiting for an answer from me.
The special issue sounds interesting, but I do not submit papers to journals that require processing charges from the authors.
Best regards,
Orr Shalit

This has been my opinion for a long time, and it didn’t change when Gowers and Tao joined the bad guys. Here’s what I think is bad about the publishing model where authors pay to have their papers published.

  1. There is an obvious conflict of interests here, which might corrupt science.
  2. These journals always seemed to me to be a nasty way to wring money out of mathematicians that either don’t know better, don’t believe in their own worth, or couldn’t (for some reason) publish their work in a normal journal.
  3. It will decrease mobility: it creates another obstacle for mathematicians with no grant money or from weaker institutions, making it harder for them to eventually get grants and move to perhaps stronger institutions.
  4. And even if I do have grant money, that’s not how I want to spend it.

And don’t tell me that in the eighteenth century or ancient Greece scientists payed to have their work published: because here people are not paying to have their work published – everybody’s work is published on the web if they wish it – here people are paying to have their work published inside a journal, meaning that they are buying their work’s credibility.

Only two good things about this model. First, it is open-access, which is great, but as I’ve said that doesn’t matter any more, since all papers are open access anyway (even if the official journal version isn’t). Second good thing, and this is really a good thing: in this model people have to think about what they are sending for publication, because publishing also has a price. So hopefully this can create eventually a situation where people publish a little less papers, but these papers are more complete and contain less repetition.

That last point is really is something to think about. I can think of at least one different means of attaining this goal: tenure.