8 thoughts on “Journal of Topology

  1. Alas, it won’t be possible for libraries to simply cancel Topology and then purchase Journal of Topology for much less:
    1. there will still be articles in the pipeline for Topology, accepted under the old Editorial Board and not yet published
    2. Elsevier (aka “The Evil Empire”) will hire a new Editorial Board, certainly not as distinguished as the one that resigned but at least prominent enough to obtain reasonably important articles — faculty are susceptible to enticement by the honor of being on an Editorial Board of a famous journal, even a famous journal that has been publicly humiliated)
    3. lots of libraries succumbed to one or another form of an Elsevier “Big Deal” contract, making it difficult to back out of subscriptions to particular titles

    Of course serious Math Libraries will need to purchase Journal of Topology, and there will be some aggregate savings (articles will be published for much less money in JoT, thus avoiding some of the expansion of Topology and its subsequent increase in price), but it would be better if libraries could all cancel Topology and let it die the death that Elsevier’s mismanagement makes it deserve.

    Faculty need to educate themselves about the realities of scholarly communication, and need to resist the blandishments of publishers — find out which journals are overpriced, and don’t publish in them, referee for them, or edit for them. Libraries need to help educate faculty, and need to take a more jaundiced view of the “Big Deal” contracts.

  2. I’m basically clueless about the journal-publishing industry, but what in the **** do publishers do with those subscription fees? Do they need all that money to pay for the corporate yacht, or something?

    And why do journal subscriptions cost so much in the first place? $540/yr still seems exorbitant, especially considering that (as far as I know) the only people actually getting any money out of the deal are the publishers themselves, not the authors or the reviewers.

  3. Just to add a data point: I was thinking of publishing a paper in an engineering journal and was astonished to find that many such journals expect the author to pay for a susbtantial part of publication, as well as expecting readers to pay for the journal when published.

  4. Why don’t they go to open-source publishing like PLoS or arXiv? This is clearly the wave of the future. (Perhaps its because mathematicians don’t have the grant money to pay the publishing fees?).

    I used to work for Elsevier (not in publishing), and I would be happy to see their larcenous revenue model disappear.

  5. Don’t forget that in math journals we’re expected to provide camera-ready proofs. A lot of humanities and law journals get to submit in whatever format they want, and some of the subscription price goes to pay for people to typeset the articles. In math journals we do all the work for the publisher already.

  6. Robert wrote:

    And why do journal subscriptions cost so much in the first place? $540/yr still seems exorbitant

    I’m a big supporter of taking power back from the commercial publishers and doing what we can to bring down journal prices. However, it’s realistic to acknowledge that journals DO have running costs.

    At my university we run the Glasgow Mathematical Journal, a small, general mathematical publication. Most of the papers that come in are not written by native English speakers. Someone has to be paid to proofread every paper. This is skilled work, requiring someone mathematically trained (usually a member of our faculty), and therefore has to be paid quite highly.

    Electronic journals require computer equipment. This is often paid for by the university at which the journal is hosted, making it a hidden cost – but it’s a cost all the same.

    There are other running costs too. Geometry and Topology, one of the most successful of all online mathematics journals, recently started charging for access (though not charging much) after years of being free. This is a shame, but that’s how it is.

  7. I’ve been puzzled for decades … decades! … as to why academics submit so readily to the for-profit publishers when in most fields the costs are born by the academics. They get grants or salary to do the research and write the papers. They serve on editorial boards and as reviewers, generally for little or no money. Then they lobby their libraries to pay for subscriptions priced as if sold by the mafia! Decades later I still don’t get it. Do Elsevier and others generate some kind of reality distortion field that makes academics submit to this???

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