Re: Electronic archiving and IIS talk

From: Albert Henderson <NobleStation_at_COMPUSERVE.COM>
Date: Mon, 11 Sep 2000 10:36:21 -0400

on Fri, 8 Sep 2000 Stevan Harnad <> wrote:
> On Fri, 8 Sep 2000, George Lundberg wrote:
> > But there is another fly in Stevan's ointment: Large numbers of articles
> > submitted to biomedical journals NEVER appear in print after being
> > unfavorably reviewed. They do not deserve publication. Editors and
> > reviewers REALLY DO protect both readers and author in this process.
> > What is then done with those "pre-print" versions that are available to
> > all? gdlundberg
> No fly, and the ointment meets all needs.
> (1) As Stephen Lock and many others have pointed out: Virtually all
> papers are "published" somewhere, eventually, somewhere in the hierarchy
> from the highest quality, highest rejection-rate, highest impact, most
> rigorously refereed journals at the top, all the way down to the
> unrefereed Vanity Press at the bottom (Usenet Chat-groups and arbitrary
> websites are now the online Vanity Press).

        I would not accept Lock's premise so easily. The research
        that I have encountered,beginning with studies in the 1950s
        to the Prague conference on peer review indicate many papers
        go unpublished as formally accepted by journals. Even authors
        feel that the status is deserved. For instance:

        In 1958, F Liebesny reported that only 48.5% of the research
        covered by the 383 papers presented at the 1948 and 1949 annual
        meetings of the Optical Society of America and the 1949 national
        convention of the Institute of Radio Engineers, and the 1950
        meeting of the American Physical Society were published and
        abstracted 5 years later. (Proceedings of the International
        Conference on Scientific Information. Washington, D.C., 1958.
        National Academy of Sciences-National Reserch Council, 1959.

        Garvey and Griffith found "two thirds of the technical reports
        produced in 1962 had not achieved journal publication by 1965,
        and, apparently, the contents of the vast majority of these
        reports were never submitted for journal publication. Many
        authors of such reports indicated that 'no further
        dissemination of the information was necessary.' ... This raises
        some questions about the ultimate value of the information in
        these reports and its relevance to the established body off
        scientific knowledge." (in W D Garvey COMMUNICATION THE ESSENCE
        OF SCIENCE Pergamon 1979. p. 136)
        Weber et al. claim, "Our studies confirm prior reports that most
        unpublished research is never submitted to a journal for review.
        Only 20% of the unpublished studies originally submitted to the
        SAEM meeting were later submitted as a full manuscript to a
        journal. Moreover, investigators were easily dissuaded, submitting
        a manuscript, to fewer than 2 journals before giving up. (Weber,
        Ellen J., Michael L. Callaham, Robert L. Wears, Christopher Barton,
        Gary Young. JAMA 1998 280,3: 257-259)

        There are many modes of communication (Garvey and Griffith
        indicated "hundreds"). Most successful researchers probably
        participate in all available to get the information they
        need. The circulation of informal, unpublishable reports
        serves authors and other researchers. It is not a substitute
        for journals. I don't see a radical change in the foreseeable
        future. While the journal system organized the circulation of
        letters, it did not "replace" anything. While electronic
        circulation of preprints beats mailed mimeograph copies, it
        is no revolution. We are still mailing photocopies.

        Moverover, the campaign against publishers doesn't help them
        to do their job of selection, presentation, indexing,
        synthesis, and distribution. Publishers could do more to
        speed their processes and improve their standards. We would
        like to achieve a vision of instant, reliable information.
        Instead, the economics of "thriftiness" is drowning us in an
        overload of chaos that can not be mitigated by technology.

        Apparently the purchasing agents of the learned community --
        the universities and the science bureaucracy -- want
        something other than instant, reliable information. They have
        made the individual responsible for doing the impossible --
        keeping abreast of relevant developments -- rather than
        increase library allocations three or four points. Self-
        archiving promises more chaos out of the same thriftiness
        that created the library crisis in 1970.

Albert Henderson

Received on Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:17:43 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:45:51 GMT