I just received the galley proofs for an article which has been accepted to a well-regarded math journal.
The copyediting is, quite frankly, terrible. The copyeditor has introduced dozens of mathematical, typographical, and bibliographic mistakes. The proofs were accompanied by a list of changes and questions, and some of the newly introduced mistakes were described in this list, but not all.
A few representative examples:
The editor has, in many places, replaced the mathematical notation << with "is much less than". It is universal within my subfield of mathematics that << means something very different from "is much less than".
The editor has typeset fractions in different ways, so that what was formerly in the denominator is now in the numerator.
The editor has monkeyed unacceptably with the bibliography. I used a software package, for which I looked up on their FAQ how to cite it. The editor replaced my correct bibliography entry with something different.
The tables now appear in wrong places. A cursory reading of the edited text reveals that it now makes no sense, and this would be obvious even to someone without specialized knowledge of my field.
I could go on and on, but I don't want to just rant. Instead I have two closely related questions:
First of all, is this typical? I find it difficult to imagine that a publisher who did this kind of shoddy work on a regular basis could stay in business. I wonder if I just had the bad luck to get the new employee this time around.
More importantly, is a strong response warranted? I am inclined to write to the journal staff, tell them that their work is unacceptably sloppy, explain in detail why, and ask them to start over from scratch, and to furnish a list of all changes made, no matter how minor.
This is not just because I want to pick an argument. I have gone through my paper line-by-line several times in the past, making very sure that everything I said was correct. With this level of copyediting work, I am back to square one and I suspect I might accidentally miss several errors introduced by the copyeditors.
Would such an e-mail be likely to produce the kind of results I'm looking for?
Thank you very much.
Update: Thanks to everyone who replied. I wrote a strong, but I hope polite, e-mail to my contact at the journal, listing several of the mistakes, and asking them to start over and to send me a complete list of changes. His first reply was a little bit ambiguous, appearing to perhaps misunderstand what I was asking for -- but he has since apologized and agreed to my requests.
One point of departure from Anonymous Mathematician's advice: I haven't said anything to the editorial board and the publisher, or discussed this issue (other than here, anonymously) with anyone but my coauthor and my contact at the journal -- happily, it looks like there won't be any reason to.
Update 2: As I requested, my contact at the journal started again from scratch, did a much more conservative job of copyediting, and provided me a copy of my file which was marked up in red and blue with every change they made. Needless to say this made my job quite easy and I thanked them for their good work.