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December 12, 2011

What Might Be Done About High Prices of Journals?

Posted by John Baez

The International Mathematical Union (IMU) and the International Council for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ICIAM) are important math organizations. For example, the IMU runs the big prestigious International Congress of Mathematicians. Now they have a blog, and they want to know our ideas on what to do about high-priced journals:

I’ll disable comments here — I want you to comment over there! But I’ll tell you what I said.

(It takes a while for comments to appear, so you may not see what I said over there yet.)

Here’s my suggestion: form boards of referees that evaluate papers on the arXiv, thus reducing and someday eliminating the need for publication in prestigious, monpoly-run journals as the criterion for deciding which mathematicians deserve to be hired and promoted. The IMU is one of few organizations with the prestige to make this idea work. And while the problem of high-priced journals afflicts all the sciences, mathematicians are way ahead of most in solving this problem, since we communicate using the arXiv, which is free.

Got a better idea, or a way of improving this one? Tell the IMU!

Posted at December 12, 2011 6:53 AM UTC

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