IMU-Net 54: July 2012
A Bimonthly Email Newsletter from the International Mathematical Union
Editor: Mireille Chaleyat-Maurel, University Paris Descartes, Paris, France
With the boycott of Elsevier, attempts to rank journals, new journals
trying to work in different business models, and lots of forums and
blogs discussing these issues, the field of mathematical publications
is in turmoil, and I would not dare to predict its future. Five years
down the road we may have essentially the same math journals as
today, or we may have a completely different publication system.
However, there is one thing that our community can do now: Post your
papers on the internet! People in poorer countries or small
universities will be able to read them, even if their libraries
cannot subscribe to many of the important journals. (And all your
colleagues can read them earlier.)
It is best, in fact, to post separate copies of each paper on the
Arxiv (or on some other preprint server) as well as on your
home page (or better yet, on the home page of your institution).
Furthermore, when we revise the paper based on the referees'
comments, we should take the trouble and post these revised versions.
I hear the concern: will the publisher of the journal not object?
Most large publishers (including AMS, Elsevier and Springer)
explicitly allow to post the final post-refereeing draft (not the
version formatted and desk-edited by the publisher, but I think this
is fair). Some (like Wiley) don't allow this, at least not to post
the post-refereeing version. The website
http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo/index.php gives you information about
the archiving policy of every journal.
What to do if the publisher's policies do not allow it to keep your
preprint on the web? Of course, you can choose the journal for your
submission with an eye on this issue. Furthermore, if you are not too
worried about some possible (but low-probability) delay in the
publication, you can add to the Copyright Agreement before signing it
that you maintain the right the keep the post-refereeing but
unformatted version on your home page and on the preprint server. The
publisher has the right to refuse the publication of the paper, or
delay it until you sign another Copyright Agreement, but this has
never happened as far as I know.
I must emphasize that I don't mean posting preprints to replace
journal articles. Journals provide a number of every important
services: dissemination of information, validation, quality stamp.
Posting papers on the internet replaces, at least in part, the first
of these. The others, provided by refereeing and editorial work, are
equally important; but by making sure with our own tools that the
first goal is met, we will be in a much stronger position to
negotiate about journal prices and other similar issues.
Past President of the IMU
Journal Ranking: Update on the Blog on Mathematical Journals by Ingrid Daubechies (President of IMU)
A. A brief recall (for more details: see IMU-Net issue 49B)
In implementation of Resolution 18 adopted by the IMU General Assembly
"The General Assembly of the IMU asks the EC to create,
in cooperation with ICIAM, a Working Group that is
charged with considering whether or not a joint ICIAM/IMU
method of ranking mathematical journals should be instituted,
and what other possible options there may be for protecting
against the inappropriate use of impact factors and similar
manipulable indices for evaluating research."
the IMU and the ICIAM created a joint working group to study this
issue. This working group wrote a report that can be found at URL
www.mathunion.org/publications/reports-recommendations. The report
recommended in particular that IMU and ICIAM constitute a board that
would establish some type of "official" journal rating.
Before taking any action the IMU and ICIAM wished to explore
opinions on a larger scale and get as much input as possible from the
mathematical community. Accordingly, a moderated blog was created by
IMU with URL http://blog.mathunion.org/journals/ ; it could be accessed
readily from any IMU webpage by clicking on a special icon embedded in
the left margin.
The blog was open to anyone in the mathematical community, and collected
opinions about whether or not IMU/ICIAM should engage in
rating journals, as well as on other issues related to mathematical
journals. The blog was created with only one category, namely Rating;
over time, several other categories (Community action, New Models
and Pricing) were created by the moderators, to group entries that
addressed journal-related topics other than rating. The committee of
moderators consisted of Doug Arnold, Carol Hutchins, Nalini Joshi,
Ming-Chih Lai, Peter Olver (chair) and Fabrice Planchon.
B. Summary of blog entries on Journal Rating.
This Spring, the IMU EC asked the Moderators to submit a brief report
on the feedback received from the mathematical community about the
"Journal Rating" issue. What follows in this section is that report.
During the period roughly from November 2011 through March 2012,
the IMU blog posting "Journal Rating" received 36 comments from
individuals located throughout the world. These remarks ranged
anywhere from a sentence or two to short essays of several hundred
words, the longest being close to 1,000 words. As one person
remarked, the comments as a whole are evidence of the importance
with which the community views this topic.
In overview, the highlights were:
- no serious rating is really possible;
- any rating would be open to misuse;
- assigning a single numerical value to a journal is not a good idea;
- inevitably any such rating will be used to evaluate the worth of an
- ICIAM-IMU has a strong voice as manifest in the 2008 ICIAM/IMU/IMS
"Citation Statistics" report (which can be downloaded from URL
www.mathunion.org/publications/reports-recommendations); this project
[i.e. a journal rating undertaken by ICIAM and IMU] might undermine
- Given the large number of mathematicians who serve in editorial
posts, avoiding conflicts of interest might be challenging;
- Where exactly would the data mentioned within the stated tiered
criteria be obtained?
- How would the effort to do this be sustained over time?
Reason to support:
- Ratings such as provided by Thomson Reuters Impact Factor will be
used anyway, so it might be best to do something which at least has
Several comments suggested that IMU effort would be better directed
toward addressing the problem of high prices of journals. In response,
two additional blog posts elicited comment centered on this point.
C. Next step for IMU Blog on Mathematical Journals.
As requested by the IMU EC, the Committee of Moderators also formulated
a recommendation with respect to the next stage of the Journal Rating
They recommend that the Journal Rating topic be declared closed, now with
this level of community input, but that the other topics of the blog be
Given the overall opinions expressed on Journal Rating in the blog, the
IMU EC has decided that it would not, itself, constitute a commission
to rank journals. On the other hand, the EC recognizes the many merits
expressed by the original report of the Working Group. In particular, some
journals are known to have deviated egregiously, in recent times,
from ethical behavior expected from journals, as formulated in e.g. the
document "Best Current Practices for Journals (August 2010)" that can
be found at URL www.mathunion.org/Publications/reports-recommendations .
Unethical behavior of this type hurts the reputation
of journals that engage in it; most authors would prefer to avoid such
journals when they submit their hard-won results. It would thus
be useful to have an easily and freely accessible forum from which
readers could find out about such unethical incidents. Yet, it is not
clear to the EC of the IMU that a committee appointed by the IMU would
be the right answer to address this, or other matters to do with the
reputation of journals. It might be preferable to provide a forum where
the community *itself* (and not an EC-appointed committee) would, on a
continuing basis, provide positive and negative input about journals,
in the hope this information would help authors when they decide which
journals to chose (or avoid) for their papers. It would be great if
someone reading this were to design such a forum, and it is conceivable
that the IMU would endorse such a well-run forum. Input could include
items ranging from the (documented!) exposure of unethical behavior, to
a list and maybe even (possibly quantitative) evaluations of some
journals pertinent to a (possibly narrow) subfield, by the participants
in a leading conference in that subfield, according to several criteria
(leading to a "multi-dimensional" representation). Please note that the
suggestions in these last few lines reflect the personal opinion of the
writer of this item of the IMU Newsletter, not necessarily that of the
whole IMU EC!
Even though the IMU will not constitute a Journal Rating Committee, the
IMU Blog on Mathematical Journals will continue to operate, for now, and
we encourage everyone to use it. I will mark this continued
operation by posting an entry myself, and I hope comments to this
posting will be forthcoming! The last recommendation by the Committee
of Moderators was that the IMU switch to the WordPress platform in
lieu of the current module for blog operations, because it would make
submission of entries much easier. This switch will be carried out in
the near future; once the new format of imu-blog is available, the
present IMU Blog on Mathematical Journals will be closed, although the
entries up to that moment will remain available.
Nominations for IMU Awards 2014
The President of the IMU, Ingrid Daubechies, has written to the
Adhering Organizations, asking them to submit nominations for the IMU
awards listed below.
* Fields Medals - fields14-chair(at)mathunion.org
The Fields Medals are awarded every 4 years on the occasion of the
International Congress of Mathematicians to recognize outstanding
mathematical achievement for existing work and for the promise of
* Rolf Nevanlinna Prize - nevanlinna14-chair(at)mathunion.org
The Nevanlinna Prize is awarded once every 4 years at the
International Congress of Mathematicians, for outstanding
contributions in mathematical aspects of information sciences.
* Carl Friedrich Gauss Prize - gauss14-chair(at)mathunion.org
The Gauss Prize is awarded once every 4 years to honor a scientist
whose mathematical research has had an impact outside mathematics -
either in technology, in business, or simply in people's everyday lives.
* Chern Medal Award - chern14-chair(at)mathunion.org
The Chern Medal is awarded every 4 years on the occasion of the
International Congress of Mathematicians to an individual whose
accomplishments warrant the highest level of recognition for
outstanding achievements in the field
* Leelavati Prize, sponsored by Infosys - leelavati14-chair(at)mathunion.org
The Leelavati Prize, is intended to accord high recognition and great
appreciation of the IMU and Infosys of outstanding contributions for
increasing public awareness of mathematics as an intellectual
discipline and the crucial role it plays in diverse human endeavors.
* ICM 2014 Emmy Noether Lecture - noether14-chair(at)mathunion.org
The ICM Emmy Noether lecture is a special lecture at an ICM which
honors women who have made fundamental and sustained contributions to
the mathematical sciences.
More details about each of these awards and the Noether lecture, as
well as lists of past laureates, can be found on the IMU Web site, at
Deadline for nominations: December 31, 2012
The names of the chairs of the various prize committees and their
contact information can be found at:
The names of the other prize committee members remain confidential and
will be announced at the Opening Ceremony of ICM 2014 only.
2012 Ramanujan Prize
The Ramanujan Prize Selection Committee has announced that the 2012
Ramanujan Prize will be awarded to Fernando Codá Marques,
Instituto Nacional de Matemática Pura e Aplicada, Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil in recognition of his several outstanding contributions to
News from ICMI
- Cheryl Praeger has been elected as Vice-Président of ICMI
(International Commission on Mathematical Instruction) in its last
General Assembly .
- The International Congress on Mathematical Education ICME12 opened
in Seoul, South Korea, on July 9 with an exhuberant display of Korean
dance and music, and a powerful welcome message from the Korean
President including the observation that "talented mathematicians are
the foundation of national prosperity". The Congress was opened by
ICMI President Bill Barton, and the Korean Minister for Education,
Science and Technology presented the ICMI awards: Klein medals to
Gilah Leder (2009) and Alan Schoenfeld (2011), and Freudenthal medals
to Yves Chevallard (2009) and Luis Radford (2011).
Congratulations go to the Korean organisers, especially ICME12
Convenor Sung Je Cho and LOC Chair Hee Chan Lew. More than 3,500
participants, incuding 800 Korean mathematics teachers, enjoyed the
rich and varied program of plenary presentations, lectures, study and
discussion groups, national presentations, and a very popular
Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013 (MPE 2013)
It is a world initiative to hold scientific and outreach activities on
The competition of quality-museum exhibits (modules) has deadline
December 20 2012 (www.mpe2013.org/competition)
IMU will officially launch the exhibition at the UNESCO Headquarters
in Paris on March 5 2013, and exhibits will be presented on March 5-8
In more and more countries, organizations decide to organize events
for the schools and the public. It is still time for the others to
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