Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Sunday, April 08, 2007

More on OA in mathematics

David Morrison, Thoughts on digital scholarship in mathematics, a new interview in the Scholars Speak section of Create Change.  Morrison is a professor of mathematics and physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara and sits on the editorial boards of Advances in Theoretical and Mathematical Physics and the New York Journal of Mathematics.  He has also served on the editorial board of Communications in Mathematical Physics.  Excerpt:

Has arXiv had an impact on journal publishing?

The main effect so far as been to keep the publishers on their toes....

In your field, are scholars generally concerned about barriers to sharing information digitally?

The fact is you can only get the attention of about one percent of working academics on this issue ómaybe thatís even optimistic. People are using the existing system, and working within it. If you explain to them what some of the problems are, they will express shock and horror. They may even go so far as to send in these copyright forms once or twice, but then they sort of go back to not thinking about it.

I do think the passage of time will go some way to changing these attitudes because for the younger generation everything has been digital their whole lives. So itís not a change from one way of doing things to another.

People pay attention when there is a crisis. If your library tells you there is a big budget crisis, they have to cut 20 percent of our journal subscriptions óthat gets people to pay attention....

What should be the role of funding agencies in scholarly communication change?

My view is that when the federal government is investing large money in scientific innovation, the scientific community as a whole has a right and duty to make the information available to as broad of an audience as possible.

So, the current model of taking the results of that research and giving it for free to a publisher who will then lock it up and only allow access after paying a fee is incompatible with that free communication of ideas. I really applaud the [US National Institutes of Healthís] PubMed Central initiative and I understand why Nature and Science are so upset about it, but itís the right thing to be doing.

On the other hand, there are costs associated with publication. And the funding agencies have not been willing to provide money to pay for these things. Itís understandable that funding agencies want to focus their funding on the science, but finding a way to facilitate this kind of open communication is really important....