Re: Citation and Rejection Statistics for Eprints and Ejournals

From: Jim Till <till_at_UHNRES.UTORONTO.CA>
Date: Thu, 15 Feb 2001 00:49:02 -0500

on 08 February 2001, Robert Welham wrote (in part, in a message forwarded
by Sally Morris):

>[rw] So they use a number of journals and, unconsciously perhaps, send a
>[rw] particular manuscript to the journal highest on their pecking order
>[rw] for which it has an evens chance of being accepted. Rejection rates
>[rw] thus tend to be around 50%. It's a sort of self-assessment exercise
>[rw] which the old hands can get quite good at.

I think that Robert Welham's '50:50' hypothesis isn't supported by the
evidence that's available. As noted in previous messages to this Forum,
there seems to be real differences in rejection rates across different
fields of research, *not* random variations around 50%.

Then, his final comment was:

>[rw] The theory probably does not work for journals which get a lot of
>[rw] contributions from "unprofessional" authors and I guess that is why
>[rw] it begins to break down at the medical end where rejection rates go
>[rw] higher.

So, he does seem to acknowledge that rejection rates might be higher in
some fields than others, and appears to assume that, insuch fields, there
are more contributions from 'unprofessional' authors (that is, more
amateurs are sending more garbage?).

I'd agree that, in theoretical high-energy physics (where rejection rates
seem to be quite low), it's probably not easy for 'amateurs' to pretend
that they can make a meaningful contribution to superstring theory! In
such a field, it may be more likely that there's a 'scholarly consensus'
about what's garbage and what isn't.

I continue to think that Hargens' 'scholarly consensus' hypothesis is the
one that's most strongly supported by the (limited?) amount of evidence
that's available [Hargens, L. L. Scholarly consensus and journal rejection
rates. American Sociology Review 1988:53(1), Feb., 139-51]. The more
there's a 'scholarly consensus' (within a particular field of research)
about what's garbage and what isn't, the lower the rejection rate.

And, perhaps this hypothesis is also applicable to readers' assessments of
self-archived eprints?

Jim Till
University of Toronto
Received on Wed Jan 03 2001 - 19:17:43 GMT

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