Re: Medical journals are dead. Long live medical journals

From: Jim Till <till_at_OCI.UTORONTO.CA>
Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2000 14:57:31 -0500

My thanks to my colleague Peter Singer for his provocative article in
CMAJ, and for pointing me toward this forum.

It's still far from clear (at least, to me!) why members of the physics
research community seem, in general, to be more comfortable with eprints
than are (as yet?) many members of the biomedical research community.

Stevan Harnad has written (about the arXiv server) at:

> [sh] Is this really evidence that peer review is not indispensable
> [sh] after all? Hardly, for the "Invisible Hand" of peer review is
> [sh] still there, exerting its civilising influence: Every paper
> [sh] deposited in Los Alamos is also destined for a peer reviewed
> [sh] journal; the author knows it will be answerable to the editors
> [sh] and referees. That certainly constrains how it is written in
> [sh] the first place.

Paul Ginsparg has written (about possible differences between
physicists and biologists) at:

> [pg] Some of the suggested differences are actually amusing, for
> [pg] example that physicists are intrinsically "less competitive"
> [pg] than biologists (!). Perhaps physicists had instead simply
> [pg] abstracted long ago the essence of their research communication
> [pg] from its physical embodiment in paper, so found the move to new
> [pg] functionalities afforded by the new medium both obvious and
> [pg] natural.

L.L. Hargens, in a paper published in 1988 [Am Sociol Rev 53(1): 139-151]
commented on the importance of variation in 'consensus' as an important
determinant of rejection rates for [paper] journals. Interdisciplinary
variation in scholarly consensus involves the extent to which scholars
share conceptions of appropriate research problems, theoretical
approaches, or research techniques. When scholars do not share such
conceptions, he wrote, "they tend to view each other's work as deficient
and unworthy of publication".

I'll suggest that differences in scholarly consensus across disciplines
also seem likely to be an important variable in the evaluation of (and
the acceptance or rejection of) eprints.

Jim Till
Senior Scientist Emeritus
Ontario Cancer Institute
University Health Network
610 University Avenue
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
M5G 2M9
Received on Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:17:43 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:45:42 GMT