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Math Science Your Rights Online

Mathematicians Aim To Take Publishers Out of Publishing 162

Posted by Soulskill
from the you've-been-subtracted dept.
ananyo writes "Mathematicians plan to launch a series of free open-access journals that will host their peer-reviewed articles on the preprint server arXiv. The project was publicly revealed in a blog post by Tim Gowers, a Fields Medal winner and mathematician at the University of Cambridge, UK. The initiative, called the Episciences Project, hopes to show that researchers can organize the peer review and publication of their work at minimal cost, without involving commercial publishers. 'It’s a global vision of how the research community should work: we want to offer an alternative to traditional mathematics journals,' says Jean-Pierre Demailly, a mathematician at the University of Grenoble, France, who is a leader in the effort. Backed by funding from the French government, the initiative may launch as early as April, he says."
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Mathematicians Aim To Take Publishers Out of Publishing

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  • Great idea but... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 18, 2013 @10:05AM (#42625037)

    you have to convince 1)young scientists they can still get employed and grants publishing there and 2)old faculty who do the highering and grant reviews that these are just as good as normal journals. As an academic myself, I'd prefer to publish in open source journals but the powers that be want high profile journals like science, nature, PNAS, etc. You can't even get an interview unless you have papers in a high profile journal anymore. Until this mindset changes, these 'publishing free' journals are dead in the water.

    • by AlecC (512609) <aleccawley@gmail.com> on Friday January 18, 2013 @10:14AM (#42625123)

      Having a Fields Medal winner leading the charge helps. If you can point out that this is where the greatest in the field are publishing, old faculty will have difficulty in denying their relevance. Those who are "names" in their respective subjects can make this happen.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I agree completely, but I think that 1) follows directly from 2). I am an early career researcher, and I want to be publishing open source. The reason I do not, is because I need to be sure that I can get research grants and tenure positions later in life. I would like to see a high profile institution start a policy that they only hire candidates with at least one open source publication, that could really get the ball rolling.
  • What they need to do is add deniability to the free ones and sell access to the official ones. [This document contains one factual error]
    Call it anti-sarcasm for me.

  • Editorial work? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lawrence_Bird (67278) on Friday January 18, 2013 @11:00AM (#42625455) Homepage

    Unfortunately the vast majority of posters have never had any work published and make the false assumption that its all gravy for the publishers. Editing anything - scientific papers, manuscripts, text books is a considerable effort, far more than spell check in word. Layout is also important to make best use of space and present the work clearly to the reader. So the text (including tables and figures) that the author sends to the publisher do not equate to editiorial review or layout work. All costs must also be spread over the expected readership of the journal, which in the case of most scientific journals is not a very large audience.

    Demailly statement about authors doing all the typing already - did he really think publishers sent stenographers to take dictation? Hand written submissions? Sure, maybe in the 1920s.

    In the case proposed here, there is also the added need for peer review with checks and balances, not just peer review by the guy who has plenty of free time because he has nothing else going on. Who is going to run this process? Who is going to prod slow reviewers? What about the final decisions to accept or reject? The opporunity for bias in decision making is going to be far higher. While academics are involved in the process now, the publisher (in theory) acts as last guarantor of good behavior.

    • Re:Editorial work? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 18, 2013 @12:12PM (#42626023)

      I have had many articles published in several journals, including the maligned Elsevier. If publishers add any value they have not educating me on what it is. I write the paper. I typeset it (in LaTeX); text, figures, and all. They require me to sign away the copyright. They put it on a web server. They charge me (and University libraries) to gain access to my own work. And the kicker is THAT THEY DON'T EVEN EDIT ANYMORE. I haven't submitted revisions or check galley proofs since the late 1990s. In other words, the only thing that I can see that they do is host a web site (that incidentally is more complicated than it needs to be because of the pay wall). Bah, good riddance I say! And three cheers for the mathematicians.

      • by slimak (593319)

        Where do you publish that you do not check galley proofs? I too have had a few articles published and am always forced to approve the galley proofs before they document goes to press. Maybe there are journals that don't require this, but I know many have it mandatory step. If you choose to blindly accept the proof without changes that reflects more on you than the publisher. Not submitting revisions either means you write perfect and no reviewer/editor has any questions/comments (congratulations if th

    • Re:Editorial work? (Score:5, Informative)

      by LourensV (856614) on Friday January 18, 2013 @12:16PM (#42626063)

      Unfortunately the vast majority of posters have never had any work published and make the false assumption that its all gravy for the publishers. Editing anything - scientific papers, manuscripts, text books is a considerable effort, far more than spell check in word. Layout is also important to make best use of space and present the work clearly to the reader. So the text (including tables and figures) that the author sends to the publisher do not equate to editiorial review or layout work. All costs must also be spread over the expected readership of the journal, which in the case of most scientific journals is not a very large audience.

      Last time I had something published in a peer-reviewed (Elsevier) journal, I sent them a LaTeX file using their stylesheets, all formatted and ready to go (and boy are tables a b*tch in LaTeX!). They don't give you the actual styles they use to format papers, but presumably the ones they do make available are compatible, so there was very little work on their end. Then, I went and did it all a second time myself (the published styles are not very readable, and I wasn't sure about copyright issues), so that I could publish a readable version as a preprint for free access through my institution's repository (which is allowed). Granted, most people in my field will just send in Word files and some images, and someone has to arrange them neatly. That's not that big a job though, and they're certainly not going to make your pictures prettier (unless you pay them a hefty fee for that service) or do much more than running a spelling checker. If it's badly written, the peer reviewers will politely suggest you (note: not the publisher) get a native speaker to fix it up for you. I know several colleagues (none are native speakers) who have some or all of their papers checked for proper English by professional editors before submitting them, at their own expense.

      In the case proposed here, there is also the added need for peer review with checks and balances, not just peer review by the guy who has plenty of free time because he has nothing else going on. Who is going to run this process? Who is going to prod slow reviewers? What about the final decisions to accept or reject? The opporunity for bias in decision making is going to be far higher. While academics are involved in the process now, the publisher (in theory) acts as last guarantor of good behavior.

      The editor, like they do now? As far as I know, editors at least in the West generally do the job for the reputation capital and as a kind of community service, not for the money. I could see people volunteer some of their time as a (co-)editor just for the credits. Anyway, even an open access journal could charge a small submission fee to cover this, or it could be subsidised by bodies like the NSF.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I have had a mathematical paper accepted for publication. I very much doubt that you have, or you would know that the process is nothing like getting a textbook published.

      To answer your points individually: editorial review and proof-reading is done by referees, not the publisher. A given layout is mandated by the journal, and putting the paper into that layout is done by the authors, not the publisher. Selection of referees, prodding slow reviewers, and making the final accept/reject decisions is handled b

      • by the gnat (153162)

        A given layout is mandated by the journal, and putting the paper into that layout is done by the authors, not the publisher.

        This is not usually the case in biomedical sciences - the layout is created by the (paid) journal editorial staff. However, it's totally unclear to me why this is even necessary, for several reasons:

        1) The pretty layout adds nothing to the scientific content of the paper - all it does is make it look pretty and cram it into as few printed pages as possible.

        2) The fancy layout adds con

        • by Coryoth (254751)

          A given layout is mandated by the journal, and putting the paper into that layout is done by the authors, not the publisher.

          This is not usually the case in biomedical sciences - the layout is created by the (paid) journal editorial staff. However, it's totally unclear to me why this is even necessary, for several reasons:

          In mathematics, however, everything is typeset in LaTeX, and the journals all provide a LaTeX style file, or document class for you to use. Papers are all formatted exactly as the journal wishes by the authors of the paper at the time of submission.

          I agree that the model proposed in TFA doesn't work for all cases quite as easily, but in the math world it is definitely very practicable.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      While academics are involved in the process now, the publisher (in theory) acts as last guarantor of good behavior.

      There's no point in having a body which in theory prevents bias when they can actually be a large part of the problem [the-scientist.com] themselves.

      Your arguments for the effort publishers go through are also very variable depending on who the publisher is. I'm quite "early career", so I've one paper published and one going through review at the moment. For the first paper, pretty much everything was done ourselves. The journal pointed out that it had procedures and protocols for format and specific grammar, but it was cle

    • by retchdog (1319261)

      i've published. what happens is, my article proofs get sent to generally unpaid reviewers; i edit; i resubmit; and it gets published completely unchanged. the only work done is adding a table of contents and managing page flow. the former is trivial, and the latter is basically obsolete with electronic journals. even spell-checking would be an overestimate of the work involved. the publishers are pure brokers, plain and simple. the idea that they would even know what "good behavior" is, without their unpaid

    • by Bengie (1121981)

      In the case proposed here, there is also the added need for peer review with checks and balances, not just peer review by the guy who has plenty of free time because he has nothing else going on.

      That could be handled by a system similar to the Web of Trust http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_of_trust [wikipedia.org]

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I've published several papers in scientific journals. I write the paper in LaTeX using a document class that the journal provides. I sent it to an unpaid editor-in-chief who just sends it on to an unpaid coordinator. The coordinator chooses unpaid reviewers who send back a report. I make changes to the document based on the report. I hand over the copyright to the paper to the publisher. The paper is now published without any changes. I don't believe I've ever interacted with or observed the work of a paid

    • Clearly from the replies the involvement of pulishers (and their editors - staff or consultant) vary considerably across academic fields, as well as individual journals.

  • Is legacy access. When a given journal shuts down, the articles they did publish are still available from the publisher for perpetuity digitally or physical copies archived in the library. Free open journals are great, but we need a way to ensure anything published will be accessible even if their servers went down. My University cancelled their subscription to one journal I frequently read articles from, but I can still get PDFs of the physical copies that came with that subscription from the library ar
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Free open journals are great, but we need a way to ensure anything published will be accessible even if their servers went down

      It's called the internet archive, and not making a robots.txt file that denies it access.

      • by dkf (304284)

        It's called the internet archive, and not making a robots.txt file that denies it access.

        They guarantee to index all other content? Every last little boring bit? And they guarantee to have the data continue to be available in 30 years? Really?

  • Hey, if you've been watching the publishing industry lately, it looks like the publishers have been trying to remove simple math from their own industry!

    Ebooks where the majority of publishing-related costs disappear, but where the publishers keep a larger percentage of the revenue from sales and pay authors a smaller percentage...

    Trying to make it so that textbooks are no longer reusable, while attacking the used-book submarket...

    Oh, and this gem...prosecuting someone for reselling the exact same book that [huffingtonpost.com]

  • All is in the title -at least we may start forgeting Claude Allègre and homeopathics...

    Indeed -real pride there, an unusual feeling.

  • Consider that *you* pay to publish in most academic journals; they don't pay *you*. Then you pay for access....

                  mark "and should lit fic, in the same pay-to-publish journals, be considered vanity fiction?"

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears

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