Re: Savings from Converting to On-Line-Only: 30%- or 70%+ ?

From: Arthur Smith <apsmith_at_APS.ORG>
Date: Tue, 1 Sep 1998 17:23:32 -0400

On Wed, 2 Sep 1998 02:20:19 +1000, Tony Barry <tonyb_at_NETINFO.COM.AU> wrote:

>At 11:39 PM 1998/08/31, Stevan Harnad wrote:
>>To put it really starkly: Ultimately the prestige of refereed journals
>>depends on the referees, and they are in the pay of neither the
>>publisher nor the author in EITHER model.
>Its not the prestige of the _journal_ that is important, it is the seal of
>approval which is given by the referees to the _authors_ work. The journal
>is the tail not the dog.

Those are nice theories, but I doubt them in practice. Editors do not
just apply some mathematical algorithm to referee reports to determine
what to do with a paper - there is a difficult intellectual problem
(just as with this discussion here) to decide who is actually correct
and who is not, if there has been mis-communication, all based on the
editor's knowledge of the referees, of the field, and a reading of the paper.
The editor's decisions are shaped by the journal policies, the editors
themselves are chosen by the publisher following various criteria. It is
important to remember that most journals do not just select papers based
on their "correctness" but on a number of other qualities that determine
the characteristics of the journal as a whole, and may request revisions
of the work based on those criteria. And the referees themselves apply
different criteria depending on the journal. "Refereed" and "accepted
by Nature" are two quite different things. That's not to say the
referees are unimportant - their work is central. But prestige is not
just the referees - I refereed for Phys Rev Letters as a graduate student
and would have laughed hysterically if you'd told me PRL was the tail
and I was the dog...

> From an engineering point of view its ridiculous when there is a
>global network in place which can provide individual localised printing to
>those who need it when they need it.

Agreed - paper distribution is and should be disappearing, and we should
reap great economies from that.

   Arthur (
Received on Tue Aug 25 1998 - 19:17:43 BST

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