Re: The True Cost of the Essentials (Implementing Peer Review)

From: Bernard Lang <>
Date: Sat, 15 Dec 2001 23:08:06 +0100

On Fri, Dec 14, 2001 at 02:19:23PM -0500, Arthur Smith wrote:
> > [...]
> > This means that the only remaining per-article real costs are
> > (1) dissemination on-paper, (2) any on-line enhancements by the
> > publisher (special mark-up, linking), and (3) peer review.
> By (2) I assume Stevan is referring to the copy-editing process, which I
> cited, with markup being one of the issues. Any publisher would like to
> do this cheaper if they could be sure of the same level of "quality".
> The real question, which needs to be answered not just by this group,
> but by all those within the "audience" for science, whether other
> researchers, other scholars, media, public, etc., is, what level of
> copy-editing is actually justified, on grounds of the need for
> accessibility of that scientific research?
> Commercial companies may be more attuned to the economic justification
> for copy-editing than we are, as a non-profit. So it would certainly be
> of interest to see whether they are spending more, less, or about the
> same as us per paper on copy-editing. As for-profit entities, it's
> unlikely any company would spend much more than is absolutely necessary
> to create a journal that meets the expectations of their market. Andrew
> Odlyzko's argument suggests that they may be spending more than us - if
> so, why is that?
> Note that I'm not worrying about freeing the literature here; if
> publishing free literature really involved no copy-editing, we would
> likely never do it, as a publisher with a historical interest in certain
> publication standards. Stevan's arguments for that are fine, and it'll
> go however far it'll go pretty much whatever we do. It may have some
> effect on the market for "quality", but we seem not to have experienced
> too much of that effect yet. But we still would like to reduce the high
> costs libraries (or institutions who may replace them in funding
> publication) have to bear, and if "lowering quality" at copy-editing is
> really acceptable, perhaps that will actually happen.
> So, the question again: what level of copy-editing is actually
> justified, on grounds of the need for accessibility of that scientific
> research?

I have absolutely no experience with copy editing but ...

 How much of the process could actually be mechanized ? Part of it at
least is checking specific presentation rules, I believe.

  Another point is that copy editing can be paid for separately, by
authors (or institutions who can afford it) or by people who think
some pieces of works do deserve it.

  To me, the major characteristic of the Internet era (as opposed to
the Gutenberg era) is that we can ignore the process sequentiality
that the cost of publication and the inflexibility of the medium was
imposing on us.
  We can publish first, and review or copy edit later, in whatever
order is convenient, or never if no one wishes to do it. I do not
care if, when, and how reviewing has been done ... all I need to know
is whether it has been done, and by whom or what group, and maybe even
have the comments.
   With that I am a big enough boy to make my own decisions. Choosing
a journal is just choosing a set of reviewers. Why should I do it
before I know what papers I'll be looking for. Why not consider a
bunch of papers and then decide which types of reviews I'll consider
adequate (for example depending on how selective I need be).
   And why should papers have only one type of reviewing, when they
are so many different publics with different needs, even within the
not for profit litterature.

  for more ... 2 slides in French:


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Received on Sat Dec 15 2001 - 22:30:17 GMT

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