Posted by: angusjohn | 01/02/2016

A letter to the LMS council from Melvin Leok, UCSD

Dear LMS Council,

As an editorial advisor to the LMS Journal of Computation and Mathematics, I was extremely disappointed to learn of the LMS Council’s decision to discontinue the Journal of Computation and Mathematics, particularly given its relatively unique status as a high-quality online peer-reviewed journal that is open access and free to publish in. As a learned society, it seems to me that the primary role of the London Mathematical Society is in ensuring that mathematical knowledge is disseminated, archived, and available to all who seek it out.

There is a relative dearth of accessible peer reviewed publication avenues that allow for the broad dissemination of research, particularly for mathematicians in less developed countries. The cost of journal subscriptions continue to skyrocket, and are crippling to even established university systems. Open access fees in commercial journals typically cost about US$3000 per paper, and per view access charges are typically around US$40. In view of these costs, it would seem that the relatively modest ₤15000 that it costs the LMS to maintain the Journal of Computational Mathematics is quite possibly the most cost-effective manner it can spend those funds in order to facilitate broad accessibility to high-quality research in computational mathematics. In particular, it is an absolute bargain compared to directly subsidizing authors to publish in commercial open access journals, or subsidizing reader or subscription fees.

The sum in question also pales in comparison to the value of the time donated by the editorial board and the journal referees on behalf of their respective institutions. Unfortunately, when we donate our time in a similar fashion to serve on the editorial boards of journals published by commercial publishers, this does not translate into lower publication or subscription costs for our authors or readers.

More to the point, it seems to be the ultimate dereliction of duty for a learned society with a high-quality peer-reviewed open-access online journal with no publication fees and extremely lean operating expenses to abandon the role of knowledge dissemination to predatory open-access journals with no publication standards, or commercial presses that charge open-access fees that are significantly in excess of the publication costs. In view of this, I strongly urge the LMS Council to reverse its decision to discontinue the Journal of Computation and Mathematics.

Best regards,

Melvin Leok, Ph.D.

Professor of Mathematics

University of California, San Diego

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