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    • CommentRowNumber1.
    • CommentAuthorgowers
    • CommentTimeFeb 11th 2012
    Several people have remarked that if we all made sure our papers were available online, then (ignoring the problem of past papers owned by publishers) we could tell our libraries that we no longer needed subscriptions to journals. Whether or not this is so, if we get close to 100% of our papers easily available online, it will surely destabilize the current system somehow.

    So one obvious thing we can do is campaign for people to put their papers online. The most obvious way of doing that is simply to try to put out a message that that is what people should do. But there are further ways that could be more effective. One is this: every time you want to get hold of a paper online and can't, instead of just giving up, email the author and politely suggest that he/she puts the paper online. (Sample email: Dear X, I would be very interested in reading your paper Y. Would it be possible for you to send me a preprint? Better still, since I imagine that I am not the only one to find your result interesting, would you consider posting it on the arXiv? This is allowed by journal Z subject to <conditions imposed by journal Z> and would be a great service to the mathematical community. Yours sincerely, W.) Another measure would be to try to encourage editors of journals to adopt an informal policy of encouraging their authors to post preprints on the arXiv -- or perhaps even insisting on it.

    These are just two ideas about how people can help even if they aren't ready to boycott the big publishers. I'm interested in further ideas of this kind, because I think they could make a huge difference.
    • CommentRowNumber2.
    • CommentAuthorSam Nead
    • CommentTimeFeb 11th 2012
    • (edited Feb 11th 2012)

    Here is another thing to do (if you are a US voter or an academic at a US institution): read the texts of RWA and of FRPAA and then think about contacting your representatives in the Senate and Congress. I found news of the proposed bill via a blog post of Eisen.

    • CommentRowNumber3.
    • CommentAuthorzskoda
    • CommentTimeFeb 11th 2012
    • (edited Feb 11th 2012)

    One thing which even your beautiful Elsevier statement (pdf missed (if I read carefully enough) to emphasise is the subtracted value the journal restrictions, typesetting etc. cause to the preprints. It mentions the added value but forgets the subtracted value. Another thing, also missed, is that it is not true that the current practices of unpaid labor were the rule throughout the scientific history. For example, in Soviet Union, the scientific refereeing, translations and editorship were paid, and the scientists could get a fair portion of their salary from that kind of activities; once paid the referees tend to be more serious toward the job assigned.

    Another thing which can be done is to siggest the following policy: if paper A is published on the arXiv and in a hi cost and monopolistic journal X and a paper B is citing A, and the author of the paper B is considering the journal version not significantly better for his citation purposes, then only an arxiv citation to A will be included to the bibliography in B, especially in published version. Some of the editorship, especially in society driven journals can allow this. The reader is not loosing anything, the author has the citation for the arxiv version, while the journal does not get its citation. I like to give full and multiple citations, but now I am considering boycotting the expensive journal publication citations in future whenever the free version exists. This is especially reasonable for citations to those journals which have the policy to erase the arXiv number of the published papers in their reference lists. We should compile a list of all journals which do that erasing.

    • CommentRowNumber4.
    • CommentAuthorYemon Choi
    • CommentTimeFeb 11th 2012

    Several people have remarked that if we all made sure our papers were available online, then (ignoring the problem of past papers owned by publishers) we could tell our libraries that we no longer needed subscriptions to journals

    Unfortunately, I do not carry the archives of e.g. JFA in my head, so ignoring that problem is something of a problem for me. What is useful is journals which offer free access to archives beyond a certain moving pay wall, see LMS journals, Scandinavica, JOT, but presumably their business models rely on people subscribing to current issues…

    • CommentRowNumber5.
    • CommentAuthorOlivier GERARD
    • CommentTimeFeb 11th 2012

    Timothy Gowers said

    Several people have remarked that if we all made sure our papers were available online, then (ignoring the problem of past papers owned by publishers) we could tell our libraries that we no longer needed subscriptions to journals. Whether or not this is so, if we get close to 100% of our papers easily available online, it will surely destabilize the current system somehow.

    I would further remark that we can do even better (but slightly more offensive in the publisher’s point of view). Build (anonymously ?) small web pages listing the arxiv or personal archive equivalent of every known article of specific mathematical journals, journal by journal, issue by issue.

    Citeseer and others are already been used to do that (find a preprint of a journal article). Part of these shadow journal webpages could be automatically constructed by crawling known sources (among them the arXiv for any standard reference to the place of publication) and then edited manually.

    An interesting development would be a standard way for an author putting one of his article in arXiv to indicate for such a robot the references to the journal publication so that it can be harvested automatically by these pages. Currently, the doi or something similar could be used inside the source code of the article.

    • CommentRowNumber6.
    • CommentAuthorScott Morrison
    • CommentTimeFeb 12th 2012
    • (edited Feb 12th 2012)

    @ogerard, in some ways Google Scholar is already providing this — it’s quite effective at identifying arxiv correspondences to the “official” literature”, and is my first recourse if for some reason I can’t get access via the Berkeley proxy. I don’t know that we should really aspire to doing better than Google Scholar, we just don’t have the resources.

    Compare, though, my idea for oldmathpapers.org. Perhaps it’s worth reviving now.

    • CommentRowNumber7.
    • CommentAuthorScott Morrison
    • CommentTimeFeb 12th 2012

    I noticed that amongst the 34 signatories of the recent open letter, there are some who quite egregiously don’t have all their papers online!

    • CommentRowNumber8.
    • CommentAuthorSam Nead
    • CommentTimeFeb 12th 2012
    • (edited Feb 12th 2012)

    A summary of the thread so far, suggesting ways to try and change the current journal system.

    • [Boycott] Refuse to submit to, to edit for, and perhaps to review for Elsevier. Take into account the cost of the journals you submit your work to.

    • Place all of your papers online (arXiv/homepage). Pressure other mathematicians to do the same.

    • Lobby your government to require open access for publicly funded work.

    • Don’t cite papers published in expensive journals.

    • [From another thread] Start a (system of) review panels, with an aim to building a system that sits on top of the arXiv and fulfills the remaining functions of journals.

    • [From many other threads] Start an overlay journal in your area.

    • CommentRowNumber9.
    • CommentAuthorYiftach Barnea
    • CommentTimeFeb 12th 2012
    Not citing relevant papers is unethical. We should not encourage such behaviour.
    • CommentRowNumber10.
    • CommentAuthordomenico_fiorenza
    • CommentTimeFeb 12th 2012
    • (edited Feb 12th 2012)

    Not citing relevant papers is unethical. We should not encourage such behaviour.

    I strongly agree: a paper should be cited or not depending on its scientific relevance to our work, independently of where and how it is published. Maybe Sam intended “when available and not relevantly different from the published version, cite the preprint and not the published version”?

    • CommentRowNumber11.
    • CommentAuthorYiftach Barnea
    • CommentTimeFeb 12th 2012
    Domenico said: "Maybe Sam intended "when available and not relevantly different from the published version, cite the preprint and not the published version"?"
    Well, even that is borderline ethical in my view. In some places people might look at some citation index and I suspect citing a preprint wouldn't count. Thus, practically you do not give the credit deserved.
  1. In some places people might look at some citation index and I suspect citing a preprint wouldn’t count. Thus, practically you do not give the credit deserved.

    Good point. And even if we may not agree with all these automatic by-index-evaluation of works we cannot ignore how thing works. So I agree with Yiftach remark above. What about citing only the arXiv preprint number of relevant articoles in one’s arXiv preprints and then provide citation of published versions of those on the published versions of one’s papers? (again, only in case the published version has no scientific added value with respect to the preprint). I guess citations by preprints are in any case out of citation indices.

    • CommentRowNumber13.
    • CommentAuthorSam Nead
    • CommentTimeFeb 12th 2012
    • (edited Feb 12th 2012)
    I am strongly in favor of accurate and complete citations. To omit necessary references is bad practice. My post (#8) was intended as a summary of the thread with a minimum of editorial comments.
    • CommentRowNumber14.
    • CommentAuthorCharles Rezk
    • CommentTimeFeb 12th 2012
    • (edited Feb 12th 2012)

    In regard to citations, I think at minimum one should cite both published version and arxiv version when possible. So citations in a paper on the arxiv should always include the arxiv preprint number, as well as the published version if it is out; have your citations in the published version be the same, if the publisher allows is.

    I think in the past I haven’t done this, and have tended to replace arxiv numbers with references to published papers, when I notice the paper has been published. In the future, I’ll always try to keep the arxiv number.

    • CommentRowNumber15.
    • CommentAuthorDmitri Pavlov
    • CommentTimeFeb 12th 2012

    @Yiftach Barnea: What makes you think that citing an arXiv version of a paper (we need to stop calling those “preprints”) is not counted by programs that create citation indices? Do you have any particular example in mind? Google Scholar, for example, does count such citations.

    • CommentRowNumber16.
    • CommentAuthorYiftach Barnea
    • CommentTimeFeb 12th 2012
    15 As far as I can see MathSciNet doesn't. But maybe there is a way for an author to somehow link their paper to a preprint, does anyone know? On the other hand, I have a feeling that Google Scholar over count citations.
    • CommentRowNumber17.
    • CommentAuthorDmitri Pavlov
    • CommentTimeFeb 12th 2012

    @Yiftach Barnea: Contrary to your claim, MathSciNet does count such references. For example, the reference [4] in the paper http://www.ams.org/mathscinet-getitem?mr=2475117 only mentions the arXiv version, yet the paper is listed in http://ams.org/mathscinet/search/publications.html?refcit=2476779

    • CommentRowNumber18.
    • CommentAuthorzskoda
    • CommentTimeFeb 12th 2012
    • (edited Feb 12th 2012)

    In some places people might look at some citation index and I suspect citing a preprint wouldn’t count.

    That is their problem. Many journals do not count anyway, and authors in those journals suffer because somebody decided to follow the discriminating Thomson Reuters list. When Thomson decides not to include/exclude some journals on their list this is ethical to count/follow, to publish in, but when somebody else decides not to include some journals in their list of double citation that is not ethical ?? Come on.

    Also: Many of those journals require authors to strip off the arxiv number from cited papers if they have Thus the citation engines running on the arXiv suffer. Finally, we should make pressure in our community to value the research BY RESULTS and not by where those results got published.

    • CommentRowNumber19.
    • CommentAuthorYiftach Barnea
    • CommentTimeFeb 12th 2012
    15 Dimitri, You might be right. I had this impression with regard to some of my papers. It may be that that impression is coming from old papers that existed as prerpints for a long time but weren’t on the Arxiv so maybe the system cannot deal with them and from papers which are too new and MathSciNet did not realize yet that the Arxiv version and the journal version are the same. But maybe I am supposed to do something and I didn’t. I am quite clueless about this stuff.
    • CommentRowNumber20.
    • CommentAuthorYiftach Barnea
    • CommentTimeFeb 12th 2012
    • (edited Feb 12th 2012)

    18 Zoran, the problem that people making these decision are not part of our community in many cases and do not really listen to us. So the fact that you and I don’t like their decisions does not mean their decisions have no affect and we can and should ignore them.

    Finally, we should make pressure in our community to value the research BY RESULTS and not by where those results got published.

    Even within the community we need to make decisions in areas which we are not familiar with. As inaccurate as it is the reputation of the journal is the only objective information available. I would have loved to live in a world in which we have the time and ability to read all the papers we should. We do not live in such world. That is one of the important reasons we need journals. We have to rank people.

    • CommentRowNumber21.
    • CommentAuthorzskoda
    • CommentTimeFeb 12th 2012

    I guess citations by preprints are in any case out of citation indices.

    Not true for high energy physics. The most relevant database is SPIRES which automatically includes arXiv papers for the related subject areas (but not math-ph!); it has elaborate citation statistics which is used very much in job screenings etc.

    • CommentRowNumber22.
    • CommentAuthorzskoda
    • CommentTimeFeb 12th 2012
    • (edited Feb 12th 2012)

    As inaccurate as it is the reputation of the journal is the only objective information available. I would have loved to live in a world in which we have the time and ability to read all the papers we should. We do not live in such world.

    In my opinion it is far more immoral to serve on a board judging on a work one is not competent with, or one is not having time to spend for, which you both describe as accepted circumstance, than not to cite a journal when the paper is already cited in some other form. Finding criteria for ranking people better than by rank of the involved journals is easy: ask person to self-describe his results, papers and his role in those, and their importance, and then, with provided background data, ask the competent people in his area how accurate is the description. For the role in papers consult the coauthors when in doubt.

    • CommentRowNumber23.
    • CommentAuthorScott Morrison
    • CommentTimeFeb 12th 2012

    I’ve noticed that many journals try to strip out the arxiv identifiers from my bibliographies. (I always try to give full journal references and a link to a freely accessible version; everyone should do the same!)

    However, it’s also often successful if you complain about this! I insist (usually in quite strong language) that the arXiv identifiers be restored. At times, when the editorial staff have objected to this, as being against journal policy, I’ve persisted, and been successful. I suspect that often the editorial staff, faced with an obstinate author, have to take the issue to an actual editor. This is, of course, an enormous waste of their time, for which I’m sorry, but generally they are happy to do the right thing, contrary to official policy.

    (On a side note, I’ve also received other exceptions in a similar way. For example, everyone should be aware that at Communications in Mathematical Physics, sufficient complaining allows you to keep the copyright.)

    • CommentRowNumber24.
    • CommentAuthorYiftach Barnea
    • CommentTimeFeb 12th 2012
    • (edited Feb 12th 2012)

    In my opinion it is far more immoral to serve on a board judging on a work one is not competent with, or one is not having time to spend for, which you both describe as accepted circumstance, than not to cite a journal when the paper is already cited in some other form. Finding criteria for ranking people better than by rank of the involved journals is easy: ask person to self-describe his results, papers and his role in those, and their importance, and then, with provided background data, ask the competent people in his area how accurate is the description. For the role in papers consult the coauthors when in doubt.

    Zoran (22), you are describing what you would like to see. Unfortunately the reality is very different. I don’t want to get into details on how the UK hiring system sometimes works. A lot of us are unhappy about it, but it is out of our hands. We can either rank people with very little information or risk losing these jobs. You can decide yourself which one is more immoral. I heard worst stories about other countries. Ignoring the reality does not make it go away.

    • CommentRowNumber25.
    • CommentAuthordarij grinberg
    • CommentTimeFeb 12th 2012
    • (edited Feb 12th 2012)

    Do we have some data about which journals exactly remove arXiv identifiers (and URLs, too? because if they just remove identifiers this might be due to ignorance) from reference lists? This looks like something that can be solved by name-and-shame.

    • CommentRowNumber26.
    • CommentAuthorMark Meckes
    • CommentTimeFeb 13th 2012
    @Dmitri Pavlov: I've discovered that MathSciNet occasionally misses such citations, although they may be willing to rectify such an omission when it's pointed out. However, if there is a reference to a preprint whose title differs at all from the published version, then they will not count it as a citation to the published paper. (This is the case even if both titles appear for different versions of the preprint on the arXiv.)

    @Yiftach Barnea #16: Google Scholar definitely tends to overcount citations, mainly as a side-effect of overcounting publications themselves (multiple versions of the same paper are not always recognized as such).
    • CommentRowNumber27.
    • CommentAuthorYiftach Barnea
    • CommentTimeFeb 13th 2012

    @Mark Meckes (#26) How do you point out to MathSciNet about such omissions?

    • CommentRowNumber28.
    • CommentAuthorMark Meckes
    • CommentTimeFeb 13th 2012
    You can write to mathrev@ams.org to point out any issues with their database (content issues, at least; maybe there's a different address for technical issues with the website).
    • CommentRowNumber29.
    • CommentAuthorCam McLeman
    • CommentTimeFeb 14th 2012
    • (edited Feb 14th 2012)
    As a baby step, how feasible would it be to ask MathSciNet (which we do, in principal, have some control over) to add ArXiV links under an article (next to PDF/Clipboard/Journal/Article/etc.) when they can be found?
    • CommentRowNumber30.
    • CommentAuthorScott Morrison
    • CommentTimeFeb 16th 2012

    @Cam, this is a really great idea. Besides the political issues of making it happen, how exactly are they going to manage this information? I once tried to automatically discover matches between the arxiv and mathscinet (using a local mirror of the arxiv, and mref), and found it pretty hard going. We’d need to be able to show that it’s technically feasible.

    scott

    • CommentRowNumber31.
    • CommentAuthorCam McLeman
    • CommentTimeFeb 16th 2012

    Two thoughts/comments:

    1) One small starting step, which would seem to eliminate/defer the most obstinate of the technical difficulties, could just be to allow existing AMS members to submit arxiv links to their own articles. The physical mechanism for doing such could be the same type of interface that reviewers use to submit MR reviews, minimizing the amount of the coding required. The only significant cost would be the man-hours of adding and/or verifying such claims on the MR staff or its analogue. The hope of this approach would then be that as people realize how much more convenient it is to be able to click on the arxiv link, there would be increasing pressure on authors to include such a link, and hence to post to the ArXiV in the first place. (And then a clamor begins to mount for allowing non-AMS members to submit ArXiV links, etcetera etcetera…)

    2) I don’t know any of the details, but perhaps a model for a full-scale link-integration could be that of the recent partnership between MathSciNet and ProQuest to get Ph.D. theses. Presumably there was a significant amount of work behind the scenes coordinating the integration of the two databases, but they seem to have merged pretty well. In particular, my thesis comes up when I search for my name, without me ever having had to log in and “claim” it.

    • CommentRowNumber32.
    • CommentAuthorHenry Cohn
    • CommentTimeFeb 16th 2012
    One thing to be careful of is how authoritative people consider arXiv papers to be. I strongly believe that they should be treated very seriously, and that everyone should keep their papers up to date with changes suggested by the referees, etc. However, not everyone does that. Some people might not even be aware that a coauthor posted an out of date version of their paper to the arXiv some years ago, and might be distressed to discover that MathSciNet was directing people there. Cam's idea about letting people submit arXiv links would address this.

    I have to admit I feel this way about Ph.D. theses. Everything in my thesis was published in journals, in a better and more carefully written form, so there is no mathematical reason why anyone should ever look at the thesis again, and I was a little irritated to discover that MathSciNet had dug it up and put it on an equal footing with "real publications". It's funny, since I usually have just the opposite problem with MathSciNet, that they don't have good coverage of areas on the border with other fields, so most of my nominally CS and physics publications are not listed (even though they are really mathematics).
    • CommentRowNumber33.
    • CommentAuthorCam McLeman
    • CommentTimeFeb 16th 2012

    I think Henry makes a very good point. This is a pretty serious argument against fully merging in the ArXiV database – or at least doing so without utmost diligence.

    I also concur with the remark On Ph.D. theses – I published a shortened version of my thesis with exactly the same name (and fewer embarassing typos), and now quickly glancing at my list of publications on MathSciNet makes it look like I published the same article in two different places.

  2. This comments fits the title of the thread rather than the comments up to now; one way changes could become easier, would in my opinion to build an association of mathematical (or, better, academic) editorial board members. This could be a tool for sharing experience about moving a journal, lobbying against threatening bills, leverage negotiations with publishers, raise funds for new experimental publication systems, or even for the arXiv, etc.

    It could be part of the IMU, if limited to mathematicians, but the point is to use the authority, awareness and prestige of editorial boards to get some weight on the issues we are concerned with – which it seems we lack a little bit.

    • CommentRowNumber35.
    • CommentAuthorSam Nead
    • CommentTimeMar 3rd 2012
    For USA citizens (and I would suggest, residents) -- go sign the petition for FRPAA:

    https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions#!/petition/strengthen-public-access-publicly-funded-research-and-support-federal-research-public-access-act/jF4mxRc4
    • CommentRowNumber36.
    • CommentAuthorMark C. Wilson
    • CommentTimeMay 7th 2012

    A nice summary of possible further actions is at the SPARC website: http://www.arl.org/sparc/media/signed-the-boycott-now-what.shtml