Re: Information Exchange Groups (IEGs)

From: Greg Kuperberg <greg_at_MATH.UCDAVIS.EDU>
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001 08:43:51 -0800

On Mon, Jan 29, 2001 at 06:42:26PM -0500, Albert Henderson wrote:
> It is not surprising that administrators perceive science editors
> as motivated by selfish or commercial interests. As if reading a
> Rorschach inkblot, they reveal their own miserable outlook.

Here is the chain of command above the math department at UC Davis:

1. Dean Peter Rock
2. Vice Provost Barry Klein
3. Provost Robert Grey
4. Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef

I would like to know which of these people have the reprehensible
anti-journal bias that you say they have. Because as far as I know, they
are the biggest allies of traditional journal editors at my university.
First, they are all research scientists and they all disseminate their
own work using the traditional journal system instead of the new e-print
system. Second, whenever anyone is up for merit subpromotion, they count
articles accepted for publication as the main test of the candidate's
research productivity. (Promotions, as opposed to merits, also involve
letters of recommendation.) This is a serious concern in mathematics,
where refereeing can take a year or longer. Some people up for merit,
including me personally, have had major works in the arXiv that were
invisible to the administration because we didn't yet have the magic
letters of acceptance from journal editors.

In my opinion your biggest enemy, at least in mathematics, is not
administrators but Fields medalists. (The Fields medal is the accidental
analogue of the Nobel prize in mathematics.) There are only 42 Fields
medalists, and here is what five of them have been doing lately:

Ed Witten - Has been a major force in the development of hep-th, the
    parent archive of the arXiv.

Maxim Kontsevich - Has been a major force in the development of alg-geom
    and q-alg, two of the ancestors of the math section of the arXiv.
    His most important paper cited by the Fields committee in 1998 is the
    unpublished arXiv article q-alg/9709040.

Bill Thurston - Hasn't gotten around to submitting his last few arXiv
    articles to journals.

Michael Freedman - "I still submit my papers to journals [after putting
    them in the arXiv], but I'm not sure why."

Michael Atiyah - Discovered the arXiv recently and contributed several
    papers in a row.

I don't mean to say that these people are pro-arXiv or pro-open-archive
ideologues like Stevan and I am. None of them are; and most of them
would like to keep a low profile in general. Just judging by their
publishing habits it's clear which way the wind is blowing.
  /\  Greg Kuperberg (UC Davis)
 /  \
 \  / Visit the Math ArXiv Front at
  \/  * All the math that's fit to e-print *
Received on Wed Jan 03 2001 - 19:17:43 GMT

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