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THE COST OF KNOWLEDGE This is an attempt to describe some of the background to the current boycott of Elsevier by many
 

Summary: THE COST OF KNOWLEDGE
This is an attempt to describe some of the background to the current boycott of Elsevier by many
mathematicians (and other academics) at http://thecostofknowledge.com, and to present some of the
issues that confront the boycott movement. Although the movement is anything but monolithic, we believe
that the points we make here will resonate with many of the signatories to the boycott.
The role of journals (1): dissemination of research. The role of journals in professional mathematics
has been under discussion for some time now (see, for example, [10], [4], [11], [12], [1], [9], [13], [2]).
Traditionally, while journals served several purposes, their primary purpose was the dissemination of
research papers. The journal publishers were charging for the cost of typesetting (not a trivial matter in
general before the advent of electronic typesetting, and particularly non-trivial for mathematics), the cost of
physically publishing copies of the journals, and the cost of distributing the journals to subscribers (primarily
academic libraries).
The editorial board of a journal is a group of professional mathematicians. Their editorial work is
undertaken as part of their scholarly duties, and so is paid for by their employer, typically a university. Thus,
from the publisher's viewpoint the editors are volunteers.1
When a paper is submitted to the journal, by an
author who is again typically a university-employed mathematician, the editors select the referee or referees
for the paper, evaluate the referees' reports, decide whether or not to accept the submission, and organize
the submitted papers into volumes. These are passed on to the publisher, who then undertakes the job of
actually publishing them. The publisher supplies some administrative assistance in handling the papers, as

  

Source: Arnold, Douglas N. - School of Mathematics, University of Minnesota

 

Collections: Mathematics