Last year over 60 new mathematical articles were appearing on arXiv every day! What if every mathematics research article were freely available online? What format would you want this World Digital Mathematical Library (WDML) to take on other than a gigantic arXiv? The debate concerning open access to academic research continues almost 7 years since the entire editorial board of Topology resigned and 16 months since the boycott of Elsevier led by mathematician Tim Gowers began. But Ingrid Daubechies, the current president of the International Mathematical Union (IMU), wants to know what young mathematicians think about how articles already accessible online could be used.
All kinds of questions have arisen: How should online articles be annotated by readers? How should errata be identified and discussed? Might there be a way for non-traditional contributions to research mathematics to be officially recognized within this context? How can it be made easier to update and create accurate bibliographies? There are 29 comments and counting posted on Terry Tao’s blog concerning Dr. Daubechies’ guest post on this topic last Wednesday. For example, graduate student Jason Rute suggests online reading groups for specific papers and the ability to create reading lists as one does on Amazon. The answers and ideas you might have may very well become a reality as the project is being backed by the Sloan Foundation, which has also supported the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, a 14-year ongoing project that has greatly impacted astronomy research.
Are you having deja vu? Parallel to the the NIH making its research public in 2004, there was a push to retro-digitize hundreds of mathematics journals. So there is currently a website for the WDML that is inactive but still has some interesting links. You can read an AMS Notices article about this project from 2003. For an update, Peter Olver, chair of the IMU’s Committee on Electronic Information and Communication (CEIC) which is working on the current project, has a slideshow “What’s Happening with the World Digital Mathematics Library?”
The white house still finds “open science” to be a hot topic, as the Office of Science and Technology is accepting nominations up until today for “Open Science” Champions of Change who provide free access to data or publications generated from scientific research or who lead research that uses publicly available scientific data.