Re: Recent Comments by Albert Henderson

From: Greg Kuperberg <greg_at_MATH.UCDAVIS.EDU>
Date: Fri, 26 Jan 2001 15:12:34 -0800

On Thu, Jan 25, 2001 at 11:19:45PM -0500, Albert Henderson wrote:
> > My access to math research is as good as it ever
> > was thanks to MathSciNet, which is unfortunately proprietary but not
> > expensive; the math arXiv, which is free; and home pages and other
> > Internet sources.
> Maybe. Here is a note from my book, ELECTRONIC DATABASES
> AND PUBLISHING on a publisher's response to the library
> crisis:
> "In an effort to contain costs, the publishers of Mathematical
> Reviews decided in 1989 to keep the number of reviews at
> approximately 1989 levels. In order to do this and maintain
> comprehensive coverage of the literature within the scope of
> Mathematical Reviews, they increased the percentage of items
> that are not given reviews ...." p. 219.

Math Reviews may not be perfect, but it is vastly more useful in its
electronic incarnation as MathSciNet than it was on paper. Our own math
department used to have Math Reviews. When there was no MathSciNet it
was very useful. It was even useful when not all of it was digitized.
But the AMS finished copying back issues of Math Reviews into MathSciNet,
we threw out our print copy of Math Reviews. It wasn't to save money,
or even to save space, although that was a small factor. The main reason
was that it was in one of our classrooms and it was ugly.

It may be true that a smaller *fraction* of math papers indexed in
the companion Current Mathematical Publications get reviews, but the
*total number* is still as large as it ever was. They also try to
devote reviews to more serious formal publications and spare verbatim
summaries and flat listings for conference proceedings. And even a
listing in CMP adds to MathSciNet's new mission in the Internet age,
which is increasingly to bind all of the math journals together,
rendering them as one giant super-journal.

There is a lesson in this trend for open archival. The readership in
each discipline wants a giant electronic super-journal. The market
is moving in that direction whether decision-makers like it or not.
Should it be a subscription-based monopoly?
  /\  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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