Re: Conflating Gate-Keeping with Toll-Gating

From: Steve Hitchcock <sh94r_at_ECS.SOTON.AC.UK>
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001 15:16:26 +0000

At 12:48 30/01/01 +0000, Fytton Rowland wrote:
>Academic editors, assisted by their
>paid editorial assistants, create in many cases a piece of work that
>provides a better impression of the authors than they had provided for
>themselves. I have argued before -- mainly in my chapter in the 1996 Peek
>and Newby book -- that there remains a need for professional publishing
>expertise in the electronic era. In Harnad's current vision of things --
>the journals carry on, but authors mount their own papers for
>free-of-charge access on the WWW -- maybe this professional attention is
>part of the value added that the journals can lay claim to providing.

While I am bound to support Fytton's defence of the journal editor, his
plea is one of hope rather than certainty. The fact is, the editor's role
will be re-cast by the move to online publishing. The role of the editor is
exposed, but there is nothing new in that. It's been going on for a decade
or more in some publishing houses. The people to ask about the importance
of gate keepers are the toll keepers, that is, the senior managers within
these publishers. Quality is a marginal issue. When the margins that matter
to the toll keepers are squeezed, quality at the margins is expendable.

But is this acceptable? In a fully open system real priorities can be
determined, and if quality is a high priority it will be less susceptible
than it is now. What editors and others concerned for quality might ask is,
who will be the paymasters in the future? And it looks like Albert
Henderson's diligence is providing the answers.

Steve Hitchcock
Open Citation (OpCit) Project <>
IAM Research Group, Department of Electronics and Computer Science
University of Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK
Tel: +44 (0)23 8059 3256 Fax: +44 (0)23 8059 2865
Received on Wed Jan 03 2001 - 19:17:43 GMT

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