Re: The forgotten importance of editors

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Tue, 3 Aug 1999 15:09:42 +0100

On Sat, 31 Jul 1999, Ransdell, Joseph M. wrote:

> sh> I do think I recognize (from 20 years' of editing) the core
> sh> of Joseph's grievance. It is the single aggrieved author's
> sh> viewpoint (analogous to the single aggrieved student's
> sh> viewpoint, when he feels that a test has not been a proper
> sh> measure of his proficiency or performance).
> This is ad hominem discreditation, based on nothing, and completely
> beneath you and your position. I think it would be in order for you to
> apologize

I am sorry. (The apology is unconditional and unqualified. Apologies of
the form "I am sorry if I have offended X by doing Y are not really
apologies for doing Y but merely apologias for intentions.)

So Joseph's position is not motivated by the aggrieved author's
viewpoint -- either his own, or advocacy on behalf of other aggrieved
authors. In any case, Joseph is right that it is ad hominem to speculate
as to the motivation for one's position here, and there is no place for
anything ad hominem in these debates, only for substance. So I do

> you might reread what I said in view of
> the fact that I am not laboring under the misunderstanding about your
> proposal that you impute to me. I await your response before
> responding further.

I now turn back to matters of substance, but I unfortunately have
difficulty finding any in Joseph's longish posting:

We are reminded of the critical role of Editors. Yes, of course;
Editors are part of classical peer review, which we have agreed to
leave intact, in favour of freeing the current peer-reviewed
literature, such as it is, through self-archiving. No coupling between
self-archiving initiatives and peer-review reform.

We are reminded of the potential value of the self-archiving of
unrefereed preprints; yes, they are indeed valuable supplements to the
peer-reviewed journal literature, as LANL has amply demonstrated.

Minor corrections on Joseph's wording had to be made. (The
self-archiving of refereed papers is not "vanity-press"; only the
self-archiving of unrefereed papers is, and even this is merely an
earlier embryonic stage along the continuum on which the self-archived
refereed draft is the critical milestone.)

And then Joseph expresses doubts about whether authors in disciplines
other than physics will bother to self-archive. I plead nolo contendere.
I am concerned with what is optimal, and available, and how; human
nature will have to decide when it will actually be availed of (and
there's no second-guessing that).

Now just what proposition of substance have I missed?

Stevan Harnad
Professor of Cognitive Science
Department of Electronics and phone: +44 2380 592-582
Computer Science fax: +44 2380 592-865
University of Southampton
Highfield, Southampton
Received on Wed Feb 10 1999 - 19:17:43 GMT

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