Re: A Note of Caution About "Reforming the System"

From: Greg Kuperberg <greg_at_MATH.UCDAVIS.EDU>
Date: Sun, 18 Feb 2001 13:22:37 -0800

On Sun, Feb 18, 2001 at 06:11:52PM +0000, Stevan Harnad wrote:
> > Other people in a similar position have told me that
> > they think that journals are superficial, and that the only reason that
> > they still publish is to please other people, either journal editors
> > or administrators.
> Could this be (and I am not asking this ironically), an elite
> minoritarian opinion?

Yes and no. I know people who have run through the entire promotion
scale and they are still human after all; they can still make mistakes.
It is true that all of their work is taken as interesting just because
of their names. But except for degree, this is true of most people
who contribute to the arXiv. Most of us have solid reputations.
In mathematics (and presumably in most of science) you can't protect
your reputation from error just by saying, "sorry, that was just a rough
draft!" As I mentioned before, all drafts in the arXiv are permanent.
In my opinion that does encourage meticulousness and honesty.

Another point is that the entire math arXiv is still "minoritarian".
It is generally used by more active and more talented people who want to
disseminate their work quickly. It is an embarrassing topic, but there
are sick fields in mathematics in which dissemination is a low priority.
In these fields the math arXiv is a non-starter. To be fair, there are
other fields that are lively but have not caught onto the math arXiv
for other reasons, such as lack of leadership.
  /\  Greg Kuperberg (UC Davis)
 /  \
 \  / Visit the Math ArXiv Front at
  \/  * All the math that's fit to e-print *
Received on Wed Jan 03 2001 - 19:17:43 GMT

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