Gresham/LMS Lecture

This week the joint Gresham College and London Mathematical Society lecture will take place. Reidun Twarock of the University of York will give a talk Geometry: A New Weapon in the Fight Against Viruses. The details are on the Gresham College website. In case you can’t make the talk on Wednesday, then maybe there is a MathsJam near you on Tuesday. And if you can’t make either, then maybe you would like to see last year’s Gresham/LMS talk by Marcus du...

Popular Lectures of the London Mathematical Society...

The line up for this year’s London Mathematical Society Popular Lectures has finally been announced. As this year marks the 150th year of the LMS there are four lecturers instead of the usual two. We have Professor Martin Hairer, FRS – University of Warwick (and recipient of a Fields Medal last year) Professor Ben Green, FRS – University of Oxford Dr Ruth King – University of St Andrews Dr Hannah Fry – University College London The lectures will be at different times and different places, see the Popular Lectures webpage. Last year’s lectures are available...

The scandal of academic journal profits...

[I thought I had posted this last Monday! Obviously I forgot to hit the right button.] The scandal of research journal profits seems to be gaining visibility in the world outside academia with articles in the press and a government working group. The proposed solutions seem to miss an important point which I’ll come to later. First, what is the problem? Well, governments throughout the world pay researchers in universities to do fundamental research. This can take numerous forms, either the money is paid to the university in general money or to specific researchers to do specific research via bodies such as EPSRC. Once the research is done and new results have been found, the researchers put these in a paper and send it to a journal. The editor of the journal sends the paper to an anonymous referee who assesses the paper (are the results new? Are they worthy of publication? and so on). If accepted, the paper is published in the journal. Researchers who want to read the paper can do so by consulting a copy from their university library (online or in hard copy). The problem becomes apparent when you follow the money. The tax payers give money to the researcher. The researcher gives the results to a company to publish. The editor and the referees are not paid to edit and referee – generally academics work for free on those. The libraries get money from the taxpayers to buy the journal (often at a very high price). So what is happening is that tax payer ends up paying twice for the same research. We researchers do the research, give it away and then buy it back. Obviously something is wrong here. This is compounded by the fact that the publishing...