Publishing in a Discipline: All About Math Journals with Senior Managing Editor Ray Lambert

Ray Lambert is the Senior Managing Editor for Science, Technology, and Mathematics (STM) journals at Duke University Press. As part of our Journals Publishing Series, we sat down with Ray to talk about some of the unique challenges and workflows of publishing mathematics journals.

Tell us a little about your position and math publishing at Duke University Press.

I DMJfirst came to the Press in 2005 as an Assistant Managing Editor for Humanities and Social Sciences journals. I left in November of 2007 and came back in February of 2009 as the Editorial Manager for Duke Mathematical Journal (DMJ) and worked with DMJ’s staff. (DMJ has had its own dedicated staff for a while, as it is one of our largest journals in terms of number of pages and frequency—currently 3,000 pages over 15 issues, which will increase to 3,600 over 18 issues starting in 2016).

It was later in 2009 that the Press began to publish two additional math journals, Kyoto Journal of Mathematics (KJM) and Nagoya Mathematical Journal (NMJ) on behalf of their respective universities.

As part of our agreements, we began to provide editorial and production services for these journals as well, and our DMJ group became the STM group in Journals Editorial. We also now provide editorial services for Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic (NDJFL) and, beginning this year, Annals of Functional Analysis (AFA) and Banach Journal of Mathematical Analysis (BJMA), which are two journals that we publish on behalf of the Tusi Mathematical Research Group of Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran. The STM group includes Marisa Meredith, Editorial Assistant for DMJ; Keller Kaufman-Fox, Assistant Managing Editor for STM Journals; and Roy Pattishall, Assistant Managing Editor for STM Journals. We all work closely with our colleagues in Journals Production, our copyeditors and proofreaders, and our typesetter.

DMJ, KJM, and NMJ are general journals and publish research articles in several areas of theoretical mathematics. The Tusi Mathematical Research Group’s journals, AFA and BJMA, publish short and long articles, respectively, on subjects such as matrix analysis, abstract harmonic analysis, functional analysis, operator theory, and related topics. And NDJFL publishes in all areas of logic and the foundations of mathematics.

All of our math journals are hosted in Project Euclid (Project Euclid is a mathematics and statistics publishing platform that Duke University Press co-manages with Cornell University Library).  I think that we’ve developed a good working relationship with Project Euclid over the last few years, and we’ve tried to take advantage of the technical features of the Project Euclid platform (features such as reference linking and other searching capabilities) to enhance the content of our journals.

I think that being part of Project Euclid has helped our group learn a lot more about math publishing and about how information is shared within this academic community. I think that as a publisher we’re helping our journals by facilitating that information sharing–for example, we’ve joined other publishers in starting to share bibliographic information with arXiv (also at Cornell University Library), to establish links for earlier draft (preprint) versions of articles to their final published versions on Project Euclid.

What’s different about publishing a mathematics journal compared to journal editing in general?

KJMMany of the humanities and social sciences journals that we publish are interdisciplinary, so, with copyediting, I think that a big part of our approach is to keep the general reader in mind. I wouldn’t say that this is as big of a concern for the math journals, since we know that our readers are mathematicians and logicians, and we don’t expect too many casual readers. Of course, we want to maintain a high standard of quality and accessibility, so we focus on making sure that the language is clear and that terms and notation are used consistently within articles. Our main goal is to work with our authors to make sure that the final articles are well presented. Our group has a lot of collective experience in editing math articles; and while our approach is thorough, particularly to citations and bibliographies, we do know when to tread carefully!

In terms of editorial tools, though, the biggest difference is that every article that we work with is not in Microsoft Word but in LaTeX, which is both a computer mark-up language and typesetting platform that is widely used in the mathematics community and in other scientific disciplines. It is excellent for writing mathematical notation and formulas and for formatting standard parts of math research papers, such as theorems, proofs, and bibliographies. LaTeX, though, can present challenges to publishers, particularly to editorial and production staff. Everyone in the STM group learned LaTeX on the job, and we’ve trained some of our freelancers as well. With their help, and the help of our typesetter, we’ve become more LaTeX-savvy as a group and, for instance, now we edit TeX files electronically, using the WYSIWYG TeX editing program BaKoMa TeX Word.

What are the steps in the editorial process, and how does it differ from other editorial workflows?

NDJAll of the editorial work (copyediting and proofreading) that we do occurs after an article has been accepted for publication. Shortly after we receive the TeX and figure files of accepted articles from the journals’ academic editors, we begin working with our typesetter. They facilitate the editing and typesetting process for us by formatting the files according to the journal’s LaTeX style guide (known as a class file), which governs how things like the typefaces, margins, headings, and so on will look; that preparation process allows us to copyedit articles with BaKoMa, the editing tool that I mentioned earlier.

We then start the copyediting process, some of which we do in-house and for some we hire freelancers. Our editors focus on the language and the reference list, as well as on general formatting, and our typesetter applies our style rules for the presentation of all elements in the math formulas. The copyedited manuscript is then typeset and sent to the authors for review. We also provide a marked-up version of the copyedited manuscript, so authors can see what changes were made during the copyediting and typesetting process. I think that authors appreciate having this reference file, as it no doubt makes their chore of reviewing the proofs go much quicker. This also helps us identify any of those (very rare, of course!) instances where we might have introduced some errors.

What new projects are you working on?

One new project that we just implemented is an “advance publication” model for DMJ and NDJFL, in which articles will be published online in Project Euclid before they appear in an assigned print issue. Working with Journals Production, we are also moving NDJFL to this workflow and are implementing a “growing issue” model of advance publication for AFA and BJMA. These models will help keep the time from acceptance to online publication to about three months. These articles will have been copyedited, typeset, reviewed by the authors, corrected, assigned a DOI, and then posted online in PDF.

All Duke University Press mathematics journals are hosted on Project Euclid. Read more of our Journals Publishing Series here. Stay tuned for our next post featuring an interview with Project Euclid co-director Mira Waller.

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