Re: Authors "Victorious" in UnCover Copyright Suit

From: David Goodman <dgoodman_at_PRINCETON.EDU>
Date: Fri, 11 Aug 2000 13:49:55 -0400

I agree with Marvin that these examples don't show that quality control is
unnecessary, or that peer review is a poor form of quality control.
Let me explain a little more fully: I meant only to say that to divide the
world into peer-reviewed journals vs non-peer reviewed is not quite the full
story. It's the quality of the review that matters, as I'm sure Marvin would
agree. Besides cold fusion, there are many examples of ostensibly
peer-reviewed journals that publish some material without review, or sometimes
with a much lower standard of review than their customary level. Authors are
sometimes solicited for a paper with the promise of only cursory review.
Conferences are sometimes published with the "review" being merely the
acceptance of the paper for the conference.
There are also other forms of quality control than peer-review. Others have
elaborated on this.

The quality of much of the material on the web is a disgrace from one
viewpoint, and a tribute to free speech on the other. Others have elaborated
on this also. The presence on the web, and in the printed literature, of
material that was once peer-reviewed but is now obsolete and dangerous is
another problem--this has been discussed in particular about medical

What I emphasize is that the need for quality control does not imply that we
need the entire scientific publishing industry. Now that the industry isn't
needed for dissemination or archiving, it's the only ostensible justification
they have, but it is not true that no other way of doing quality control (as
peer review or otherwise) can be found than the maintenance of the entire

Marvin wrote:
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "David Goodman" <dgoodman_at_Princeton.EDU>
> <snip>>
> > We should also remember that in addition to "all the amateur stuff
> > unleashed on the web with all the best intentions" there is also quite a
> > bit of similar stuff in the refereed journal literature. For example,
> > polywater, cold fusion and HIV as a non-cause of AIDS have all in
> > referred journals (of different publishers).
> >
> > David Goodman <dgoodman_at_Princeton.EDU>
> Some wrong material gets through the review, and the proportion depends on
> the quality of the journal - which is one reason that authors want to be in
> the best journals to gain acceptance of their work. The proportion of
> nonsense on the Web is much higher than in even a poorly edited journal, and
> the two forms of publication shouldn't be equated in this sense.
> Two or three times a year, I see discussions on science-oriented newsgroups
> on whether glass flows. All the evidence to the contrary doesn't stop the
> believers from bringing it up again. That kind of thing doesn't last long
> in the refereed literature.
> The second two examples Goodman gave were immediately recognized as wrong,
> and - as I recall - the first cold fusion article wasn't reviewed, contrary
> to the policy of that journal. The polywater flurry ended when the checking
> system of science came up with the facts. Pseudoscience of all kinds
> doesn't correct itself - it selectively ignores evidence.

David Goodman
Biology Librarian, and
Co-Chair, Electronic Journals Task Force
Princeton University Library
phone: 609-258-3235            fax: 609-258-2627
Received on Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:17:43 GMT

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