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# Self-archiving by authors in the field of mathematics

*To*: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu*Subject*: Self-archiving by authors in the field of mathematics*From*: "Indiana Univ. Math. J." <iumj@indiana.edu>*Date*: Mon, 9 May 2005 21:34:19 EDT*Reply-to*: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu*Sender*: owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu

Dear All:

I have been mulling over what some of you write for a while now. I could

muse a bit in typical "academese" ("It seems to me that ... might... could be viewed as ... but other factors, of course,..."), or I could

speak exactly as I see it, and throw myself to the mercy of you all. I

choose the latter.

Do those who vigorously promote OA have in-depth knowledge of these three

areas:

(1) SMALL, INDEPENDENT publishers' finances,

(2) programs needed to implement some suggestions, such as "self-archive your papers" (advice to authors).

(3) "ideological" (philosophical) questions relating to the speed of

publishing versus truly creative work. (Donald Knuth had something to say about this...)

In this email I choose to refer only to (2) above. My perspective is that

of mathematics publishing, in which I have over 20 years of editorial

experience.

Most mathematicians today use a program called TeX, which comes in a wide

variety of flavors and with a forever-growing number of contributed

packages (macros). The result of this proliferation of programming

add-ons is that a paper written *today* using LaTeX, say, might not

compile *tomorrow* unless the author went to the extra trouble of listing

the version number of the packages he used today. (I know this for a

fact: it happened to me. My experience must have been sufficiently

widespread that the American Mathematical Society offered yet another

programming tool to compile specific package versions into a given paper.)

Naturally, most mathematicians prefer to be mathematicians first - and

leave the vagaries of compiling their paper into a *permanent* fashion to

someone else. After all, time is limited...

Even if a large fraction of mathematicians could be persuaded to pay

attention to the complexities of LaTeX so as to produce a semi-permanent

version, the question immediately arises that LaTeX itself (like most

other formatters) is in flux: conversions to XML or to PDF are discussed

in terms of which should be the "archival" version. Better yet, am I the

only one who has experienced that PDF's, by definition a *portable*

format, are not *portable* a 100 percent of the time? (Rhetorical

question: there are several well-known reasons why PDF's sometimes fail to

be portable.)

Therefore, I am left to wonder whether librarians have lost what used to

be the librarians' greatest emphasis, "Let's safeguard this for future

generations". A librarian that, today, entrusts self-archiving (of

mathematics) to mathematicians surely thinks that all that is necessary is

to burn a couple of CD's and then, with the passing of time, transfer the

CD's to whatever media should then be in use. Well, that really shows a

total of understanding of technical issues having to do with the fluid

nature of notation in mathematics, and the fluid nature of *viewing*

mathematical writing. (By analogy, consider a librarian concerned with

the preservation of *books* that said, "All you need to preserve books for

an indefinitely long time is to have them printed on acid-free paper", and

paid no attention to the humidity and temperature of the environment, the

necessity to have copies in more than one location to safeguard against

fires, etcetera.)

Best regards, Elena Fraboschi (Indiana University Mathematics Journal)

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