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Over 6 months ago, I published a paper in a journal that is on MathSciNet's journal list, and has been for a long time. It's not the Annals, but it's a solid and reputable journal. My paper is in applied mathematics (applied to a different topic in the real world), but clearly of a mathematical nature. The primary interest is mathematics, more so than the results we obtain about the topic at hand.

So far, this paper has not been indexed on MathSciNet. Papers I have published after it have been indexed. Other papers from the exact volume of the journal have been indexed. In fact, other papers from the same volume of the same journal and the same journal subtopic as my paper have been indexed.

I've emailed them twice about this at mathrev@ams. Twice I have received the same response, "Thank you for your message. The paper you mentioned has been forwarded to the editors of Mathematical Reviews / MathSciNet for consideration." I have received this response 1 month and 4 months ago.

I question why and how Mathematical Reviews can be making editorial decisions on what "counts" for indexing or reviewing. Surely they do not have the time and resources to do a proper peer review of every paper. (Side note: every paper of mine that has been "reviewed" has just featured an exact quote of the paper abstract as its "review.") The paper has been reviewed and published in one of their listed mathematics journals, the AMS does have categories for applied mathematics that it includes, and the paper is clearly mathematical in nature (unlike say a philosophical paper appearing in a mathematical journal). Part of me feels like taking this as a slight, though I'll seek an alternative explanation.

Has anyone else experienced this and what should I do? In my environment, it's rather important to have papers listed on MathSciNet, rather than arXiv, Google Scholar, etc.

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    Despite my general skepticism about the scrupulousness of established arbiters... I doubt that MathSciNet is actually "refusing" to do anything, rather, just ... not choosing to do so. They don't have an obligation to do anything. This is why we shouldn't rely on MathSciNet, despite its general utility... Aug 5 '21 at 2:11
  • MathSicNet (a database of reviews of selected papers), arXiv (a preprint server), and Google Scholar (a database indexing published and unpublished papers) are very different things. Aug 5 '21 at 3:40
  • @BrianBorchers I am aware of this. MathSciNet is among other things a search engine for mathematical work. It also takes substantial care to disambiguate between authors with the same name. It is possible to see "all" the published mathematical works of a given author. One of my works is missing, which is a problem. In this sense, it shares similar functionality with arXiv or GS, where one can see all the works of a given author. And Paul, I suppose they're declining (by non-response) my request to index my work, which I find questionable. They may be exercising some implicit bias. Aug 5 '21 at 5:12
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Historically, publishers didn't make abstracts of papers available to indexing services, and thus it was necessary for Mathematical Reviews (the print-only predecessor to MathSciNet) to use volunteers to prepare "reviews" (basically summaries) of papers for inclusion in Mathematical Reviews. The volunteer reviewers and editors would also classify the papers according to the "Mathematics Subject Classification"

Over the years, many publishers have agreed to allow MathSciNet to include the publisher's abstracts and reference lists in MathSciNet. The editors or volunteer reviewers sometimes use the publisher's abstract rather than preparing an independent review, but not always. There's no guarantee that any particular paper will be chosen to appear in MathSciNet or that the editors will publish a review rather than simply using the publisher's abstract.

The editorial process is described at

http://www.ams.org/publications/math-reviews/mr-edit

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  • "Elementary articles or books, or articles that have not been refereed are ordinarily not listed. Articles and books that are not in the published literature are not considered for coverage." This site gives no indication of why mathematical work published in one of the listed journals mathscinet.ams.org/dmr/JournalList.html would not be indexed. Aug 5 '21 at 5:15
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I had a paper published by a physics journal for which only some papers are indexed and reviewed by MathSciNet. My paper was not indexed or reviewed. Other physics papers I wrote have being indexed by MathSciNet.

Notice they claim to "cover articles and books in other disciplines that contain new mathematical results or give novel and interesting applications of known mathematics" (from MathSciNet) and it does not say it will cover all such. In any case, novel and interesting is a judgment call.

My rule of thumb is that I only trust MathSciNet for pure mathematics from pure mathematicians. I love finding papers there, with nice reviews and good hyperlinks, but when I analyse the work of an applied mathematician I use other databases. Then those databases are so big I cannot tell if others' papers are getting picked up by accident.

This is why many of us carefully curate our CVs, our ORC ID pages, our websites. All the databases are full of errors and omissions.

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  • You are right that the obvious explanation is "they really only comprehensively index pure math, not applied." However, there are several subject areas in the AMS' MSC scheme, such as biological and natural sciences, which are clearly applied math. Aug 5 '21 at 6:16
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There is nothing you can do. MathSciNet is a volunteer organization, and their volunteers get to choose how they want to spend their time. If they are not interested in reviewing a paper -- because none of the volunteers is interested in the area, or because none of the volunteers believes that the paper is of broader interest -- then that's that. You can't force a volunteer organization to do anything.

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    Math Reviews is not a volunteer organization. It is published by AMS. The access to Math Reviews is not free so it is a source of money for AMS.
    – markvs
    Aug 5 '21 at 0:02
  • I don't need their "reviews" - I just want my paper indexed. Aug 5 '21 at 0:45
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    @MarkSapir Math Reviews/MathSciNet depends on volunteers to write the reviews. Aug 5 '21 at 3:27
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    @BrianBorchers: The OP does not talk about reviewers. Indexing or non-indexing is done by paid staff or by software managed by paid staff.
    – markvs
    Aug 5 '21 at 3:41
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    @BrianBorchers: The fact from the OP is that the paper is not included (indexed) after 6 months while other papers from the same volume are included. That means somebody has made a decision not to include it. That somebody is not a volunteer.
    – markvs
    Aug 5 '21 at 3:47

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