Proof of concept

This blog was set up in October 2011. On 27 September 2012, less than a year later, the number of visits to the blog has reached a healthy 100,000 (look at the tiny dial at the top of the sidebar).

In my opinion, the blog serves as proof of the feasibility of a blog/journal hybrid for electronic publication: a free-flowing discussion blog for a professional community and a scholarly journal for more substantial contributions, cross-linked and providing ample opportunities for post-publication review and discussion.

At the time when the “author pays” model of open access publishing has become the focus of debate in academia (see the discussion on the sister blog, LMS Members) , The De Morgan Journal dispels  a few misconceptions. It positively proves that

  • free for authors and for readers channels of distribution of (pre-publication and/or post-publication peer-reviewed)  research work are easily attainable even for relatively small academic communities (in our test case: the mathematics education community represented by the LMS Education Committee);
  • achieving decent technical quality of texts is not a problem; this blog supports \( \LaTeX \). For an example of sophisticated typesetting of mathematics, have a look at the paper by David Pierce;
  • electronic internet publishing could be very cheap for people who run it (for this blog, the costs of hosting the blog are absorbed by the London Mathematical Society and are hard to quantify, but to give some idea of market prices, hosting of a similar blog on WordPress would cost 26 pounds per annum);
  • the main costs of academic publishing are covered by unpaid work of authors, reviewers, editors;
  • modern technology allows one to aggregate even small, 15 minutes at a time, contributions from authors  and commentators into a valuable and meaningful total;
  • this low-cost aggregation of collective effort is possible, however, only when the venture is run on a strictly not-for-profit basis (in a for-profit model, running costs immediately jump by several orders of magnitude because of need for expensive business infrastructure, costs associated with regulatory compliance, accounting, payment of taxes, etc.)

But enough about economics.

Blogs grow organically, like trees; they need some maintenance, attention and care, not much, but regular, like the watering of a garden. But what matters is the quality of content, something which is beyond the control of a humble blog administrator like me.  Even when this blog was still a seedling, it already attracted support and high quality input from the community — this is why it was able to make useful contributions to education policy discourse (see, for example, A draft school mathematics curriculum for all written from a humane mathematical perspective: Key Stages 1–4 and papers on specialist mathematics schools — they played constructive role in policy discussions).  I use this opportunity to thank all content providers: authors, contributors, editors who helped this blog to reach maturity.

Alexandre Borovik

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