My colleague covered the particular airing of grievances following Timothy Gowers’ blog post in January. As a graduate student still working to finish up course requirements, I think about the publishing process sort of how I think about taxes. I know there’s a very real deadline, after which I will have to deal with all the pains of this aspect of my career. But for now it all seems a wee bit ethereal. However, I found the nature of the discussion of this story, spread quickly across the internet, incredibly engaging. The stage was set within two days of Professor Gowers’ blog post, when David Clark, an employee of Elsevier, directly addressed the issue in the comments section.
If you click through to this inventory of writing about the boycott, you’ll see that the responses have taken extremely diverse forms. It’s exciting, even if you don’t participate, to have the ability to sift through conversations about both the mathematical and “administrative” thoughts of leaders in the field. There are also more traditional forums, such as this upcoming article to appear in the Notices of the American Mathematical Society which lays out the arguments against bundling and other policies of Elsevier. The March issue of the Notices contains a practical counterpoint titled Do Mathematicians Get the Author Rights They Want? It provides a handy comparison of various standard publishing agreements you must sign in order to have a paper published.
In addition to critiques of the current system, there have been attempts at describing new forms of mathematical and scientific publishing; MathOverflow has shown the power of improving social connectedness via the internet.