Re: Self-Archiving Refereed Research vs. Self-Publishing Unrefereed Research

From: David Goodman <dgoodman_at_PHOENIX.PRINCETON.EDU>
Date: Thu, 16 Aug 2001 18:02:25 -0400

judging the reliability of information, especially that produced under
commercial sponsorship, does indeed require rigorous
review. The appearance in a peer-reviewed journal, even of the highest
quality, is only the first step. We have been discussing here examples of
where even the highest contemporary standards as applied by the best
journals have proven insufficient. And how is a naive user supossed to
learn what journals can be trusted at all?

The publication of material in an free archival system will permit much
more open and effective review and comment than the present system does.
In the case you postulate, how long do you think it will take until the
discrepancy is noticed and publicized? I'd say less than one day.

In an area nearer my field than medicine, I would trust no work on whale
populations published by anyone working in certain countries, no matter
where published. On many
topics of conservation biology with practical implications I would trust
no work emanating from some
organizations, no matter where published, unless independently verified.
We all could add analogous situations. How does the beginner learn
these things?

They learn from the criticism in the literature (and from education). Open
archives would facilitate this, not hinder it.

David Goodman, Princeton University Biology Library 609-258-3235

On Fri, 10 Aug 2001, Arthur Smith wrote:

> Stevan Harnad wrote:
> > [...]
> >
> > (3) Podkletnov actually has an article published in a high-level
> > journal. It reports a cure for cancer (in reality bogus), involving
> > drugs that are in reality toxic and do not cure cancer.
> > [...]
> Actually I think the worst possible case is:
> (5) P. has an article published in a high-level journal. The title and
> abstract make ambiguous claims for a cure; the paper includes
> information on toxicity problems with the drug involved, as required by
> the journal editorial rules (there was a report Monday on NPR of a
> planned tightening of those rules - apologies for the horrible search
> URL:
> from which I'll quote:
> Rules being drawn up by four of the world's most powerful medical
> journals will make it more difficult for pharmaceutical companies to
> manipulate research data on new drugs. Studies published in these
> journals are extremely influential in persuading doctors of the
> benefits and safety of new drugs. The medical journals will now insist
> on guarantees from the authors that they were given complete
> independence to publish their results, and can personally vouch for
> the integrity of the data. NPR's Jon Hamilton reports.
> )
> continuing case 5: the drug company implies indirectly that for
> continued funding P. should "self-archive" a version that does not
> include the toxicity information.
> That's just an example of course - all of these are really an issue of
> who is taking responsibility for the integrity of the information. My
> belief is that it is important that that responsibility be transferred
> as far as it can be, from authors to more stable and identifiable
> entities, so that the end-users of that information have a source for
> whom they have a certain relationship of trust. "Medscape Select" is one
> way to do it - though there it will be important to establish the
> independence and personal integrity of the editor before the outside
> community is likely to make heavy reliance on it.
> Note also that "context" can be much more than a table of contents in a
> journal. An article in Science will sometimes have preceding editorial
> commentary that may clarify exactly why this article was accepted, and
> with what caveats it should be read. That sort of thing is almost
> inevitably lost in an author self-archived database. Even with just a
> Table of Contents, neighboring articles will often shed other
> conflicting or supporting light on an interesting new discovery.
> As I've said before - author self-archives are missing these two
> elements: a transfer of responsibility, and presentation in a particular
> context for which the journal seems to be more appropriate. At least in
> many scholarly fields.
> > [...]
> > Self-archived eprints can be designed to carry "health warnings" that
> > are as shrill as we like a priori (or, more sensibly, a posteriori,
> > once we get an idea of the size of the bogus paper problem -- if there
> > is any).
> With medicine we are talking about lives that can be lost; I don't think
> a posteriori is good enough if we're seriously hoping that self-archives
> will be an appropriate means of distributing information to the final
> practitioners. And if it ISN"T an appropriate means of distributing the
> information, and the final end-users of the information ignore it in
> favor of traditional distribution of articles through journals, then
> where is the motivation for the authors to self-archive (i.e. if they
> are not reaching any more readers than they otherwise would)?
> Arthur (
Received on Wed Jan 03 2001 - 19:17:43 GMT

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