Posted by: Administrator | 27/01/2016

Dr Andrew Duncan, University of Newcastle: Questions about the “overheads”

There are 2 points which I would like to make with regard to the proposed closure of the JCM.

Firstly, the LMS Council’s stated intention is to “consider development of a new and better journal in … the interface between computation and mathematics …”.

This would have a different name and possibly a slightly different remit. Members would be asked to decide how this can be achieved.

All this seems sensible. What is hard to understand is why it’s necessary simultaneously to close down the JCM. A more obvious route would be to consult and plan first, so that there is continuity, so it is clear what will happen, clear that whatever that may be is genuinely better, and so that the experience available from those involved with the JCM is not lost.

Secondly. The accounts produced by Susan Hezlet to show the cost of the JCM include a large proportion of staff costs and overheads.

From a spreadsheet: of the £499,466 cumulative costs £132,406 are the savings that the LMS would have made if the JCM did not exist.

If the direct staff costs and overheads are to be taken into account then is the council proposing to save these overheads and staff costs by closing the JCM? This is unlikely: in fact these costs will exist with or without the journal. Again, a natural course of action would be to continue with production of the JCM until such time as it is agreed that a more efficient use of resources is available, appropriate and ready to go.

Personally, I believe the LMS should be trying to support and encourage research which is interdisciplinary; the REF and most UK university managers do exactly the opposite, in spite of many fine speeches, and possibly good intentions. Provision of a journal supporting interdisciplinary research in mathematics and computer science is one way the LMS is being useful in this respect. Oh the other hand the proposed withdrawal of the JCM will certainly not help to motivate research in such interdisciplinary areas.

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