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

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 21 Dec 2001 02:17:08 +0000

On Thu, 20 Dec 2001, Arthur Smith wrote:

> Probably there are many different opinions here - it's not so much what
> I or Marty say but what the society (governed by members and various
> committees and boards) would actually do that's my question.
> peer review is a pretty thankless task, for editors and referees alike...
> But back to my speculation on what the society would do: if all the
> information were already available for free online in an acceptable,
> readable, long-term archival format, with full searching capabilities,
> etc. why would we want to simply be some sort of contractor to
> universities in assessment of their faculty? Better a commercial company
> takes on that task, and leave us to planning meetings and lobbying the
> government...

Here is a prediction: Once free online access to the peer-reviewed
literature is at last gained, it is the commercial publishers, not
the learned society publishers, who are more likely to want to give up
their titles rather than downsize to performing the only remaining
essential function: peer review.

After all, when it comes down to it, they (the learneds, not the
commercials) are us. And it was and is and always will be us who
perform the "thankless task" of editing and refereeing (the latter, and
sometimes even the former, for free), not only for the sake of faculty
assessment, but for the sake of the quality, usability, reliability and
navigability of our research.

Stevan Harnad
Received on Fri Dec 21 2001 - 02:17:20 GMT

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