Thursday, January 14, 2016

MAA Reviews of Open Source Texts

The Mathematical Association of America (MAA) maintains a book review site called MAA Reviews where volunteers review math-related texts.  The site hosts reviews of traditionally published texts, but also accepts reviews of open-source texts.  For example, Vic Reiner and I wrote a review of Guichard's Calculus text a while back.

The editor of MAA Reviews, Fernando Gouvêa, is quite supportive of including reviews of open-source texts on the site.  Though he lightly lamented in an email exchange with me:
We are definitely willing and interested. The difficulty is that
usually the only reward I can offer my reviewers is a free copy of the
book they are to review; as a result, it is always harder to find
reviewers for open-source texts.
For a while, I went on a one-man mission to recruit reviews of open-source texts for the site.  My self-imposed best practice was that the reviewer not be an author of the text and had to have taught at least one class using the text.  Here's a list of some of the MAA Reviews I "recruited" during this period:
I had a process where I'd identify a candidate text, usually through word of mouth.  Then I'd reach out to the author(s) and see if they knew of someone using the text that I could solicit a review from.  Then I'd reach out to the recommended reviewer and solicit the review for MAA Reviews.

After a while, other things made claims on my time, leaving me less active in this pursuit.  However, this is a good way to get open-source texts some exposure.  Further, a favorable review in MAA Reviews might help the author(s) get some credit for their work at their home institutions.

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