Re: Reasons for freeing the primary research literature

From: Jim Till <till_at_UHNRES.UTORONTO.CA>
Date: Sun, 19 Aug 2001 05:47:30 -0400

On Sat, 18 Aug 2001, Stevan Harnad wrote:

> On Fri, 17 Aug 2001, Jim Till wrote:
[jt]> Re (1d): please bear in mind that a definition of the verb
[jt]> "censor" is "make deletions or changes in".
[sh]> Peer review certainly is not censorship.

I seem to have touched a nerve when I used the eye-catching word
"censorship" in my list of "should" reasons. Yes, Stevan, peer review
*is* a form of censorship. But, it's one that's usually justified on the
basis of changes/deletions intended to enhance perceived quality (however
defined). And yes, I already know that you, as the moderator of this
forum, prefer that it not be used for discussions about peer review.
Such discussions can divert attention from what I think we agree is a
major issue: freeing of the good-quality (however defined) primary
research literature.

[sh]> ("Deception" would be involved in "violating" the "Ingelfinger Rule"
[sh]> which announces that the journal will not REFEREE a paper that has
[sh]> been self-archived on the Web. Here I unhesitantly (and
[sh]> unpenitantly!) recommend ignoring this unnecessary, unjustifiable
[sh]> and unenforceable "rule," which, unlike copyright, has no force of
[sh]> law, but is instead merely an arbitrary submission policy, like
[sh]> declining to referee papers by authors who have blue-eyed uncles --
[sh]> on which I would likewise recommend "deception"... )

Again, I seem to have touched a nerve with my use of another eye-catching
word, "deception". I'll touch that nerve again by arguing that the use of
deception in any way (including its use as a way to avoid the "Ingelfinger
Rule") is ethically-questionable (even if the "Ingelfinger Rule" is
legally-unenforceable). Use of deception requires strong justification.
Do the circumstances that are being debated here provide strong enough
justification? Stevan seems entirely convinced that they do. I'm not so

Jim Till
University of Toronto

P.S.: By the way, I don't think that these issues are "silly", or
"nonsense". The use of such words does touch nerves of my own (although I
realize that it's just rhetoric ("language designed to persuade or

Stevan also wrote, at the end of another message that's part of this same

> My temptation to agree is tempered by my sure knowledge that one could
> have substituted my own name for Albert's in the above statement, with
> equal truth (and likely to elicit at least as many echo-endorsements
> from others!)...

Because of my comments above (about my own nerves being touched) I can't
resist the temptation to add a comment here: sometimes, there's a need to
moderate the moderator! But - that would be censorship [smile]. (Hmmm -
is it getting a little warm in this particular kitchen?)
Received on Wed Jan 03 2001 - 19:17:43 GMT

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