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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 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.

Laszlo Lovasz
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 in 2010:

"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 here. 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 ; 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 individual;
- ICIAM-IMU has a strong voice as manifest in the 2008 ICIAM/IMU/IMS "Citation Statistics" report (which can be downloaded from URL); this project [i.e. a journal rating undertaken by ICIAM and IMU] might undermine that.

Practical considerations:

- 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 mathematician input.

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 blog.
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 continued.

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 Practicesfor Journals (August 2010)" that can be found at URL.
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.

Ingrid Daubechies

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 -
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 future achievement.

* Rolf Nevanlinna Prize - 
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 - 
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 - 
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 of mathematics.

* Leelavati Prize, sponsored by Infosys -
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 -
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 Website.

Deadline for nominations: December 31, 2012

The names of the chairs of the various prize committees and their contact information can be found here.
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 Differential Geometry.

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 Mathematical Carnival.

Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013 (MPE 2013)

It is a world initiative to hold scientific and outreach activities on the theme.

The competition of quality-museum exhibits (modules) has deadline December 20 2012 (
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 2013.

In more and more countries, organizations decide to organize events for the schools and the public. It is still time for the others to join:

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Previous issues can be seen here.