Websites someone that isn’t me should make: MathJournalWiki July 20, 2007Posted by Ben Webster in evil journals, websites.
It occurred to me while thinking about a post on journals I’m working on that the current information resources on journals suck. Especially from the perspective of a graduate student, it’s really difficult to get effective information about math journals as a whole. Each journal has its own webpage, with the editors listed and submission information. Then there are websites like Thomson Scientific (or, apparently MathSciNet) which will tell you what journals impact factors are. You have to go to yet another website, like Rob Kirby’s, or the AMS, to find a report about journal prices. And you just have to ask colleagues if you want to find out (roughly) how journals are ranked, which I’ve seen start arguments between mathematicians.
So, the obvious solution is to have a wiki with an entry for each journal, with its vital stats and important links collated. I think things like a page for each mathematician listing his/her editorial board affiliations would be really useful. It would be particularly good if you could get info like average time between submission and acceptance, though that’s probably too much to ask for (since this would require a lot of harvesting from papers).
I’m not sure I have the energy to make this site, but I think it would ultimately be an amazing resource. Anyone out there (Scott, I’m looking at you) think they know how to automate harvesting this data?
EDIT: I just want to clarify, I didn’t really mean this site to be primarily a name and shame deal. I mean certainly there would be a component of that, to help mathematicians know who they’re publishing with. But, more importantly, the journal system is profoundly confusing. It’s really hard to figure out what journal it’s appropriate to submit a paper to, especially for young mathematicians, and the advice I’ve gotten from older mathematicians seems to indicate a lot of them are pretty confused as well, so a central resource could be really helpful. For example, I’ve often found myself wishing I had some cross-reference where I could look up which journals a given mathematician is on the editorial board of (and nobody say “Google.” I’ve never gotten that to work for this purpose).