Re: Garfield: "Acknowledged Self-Archiving is Not Prior Publication"

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 5 Sep 2002 18:22:08 +0100

On Thu, 5 Sep 2002, David Goodman wrote:

> The recognition that Jan correctly specifies to be a principal purpose of
> scholarly communication need not depend on labeling, let alone upon
> "journals" even "as a concept."

It is not labeling. It is certification, on the basis of the known and
hence reliable reputation of the journal, of the outcome of a quality
control process performed by qualified experts (peers).

(Moreover, as cannot be repeated often enough, peer-review is not merely
a passive red/green light decision: It is a dynamic interaction
between author and peer reviewers, mediated by and answerable to the
editor, and often involving several rounds of substantive revision and
re-refereeing. Not only does this process provide a reliable signpost
for where in the hierarchy or quality and rigor a given paper falls,
but it also maximizes its quality.)

> One primarily wants recognition from one's fellow scholars, who judge
> the work by its quality. The communication of this recognition to
> academic administrators can be done by other devices than labeling;
> among the already-existing devices are the system of confidential
> letters of recommendation, and the judgment of the departmental
> committee knowledgeable in the subject. (I do acknowledge that they have
> limitations; so does labeling by journal.)

-- which is why these different forms of evaluation complement rather than
substitute for one another. If letters of recommendation and departmental
judgments had been a sufficient basis for evaluation, publish-or-perish
(which was never a pure bean-count, but one weighted by the track-record
for quality and the impact factor of the journal-name) would hardly
have prevailed as it has. Peer review not only makes a substantial
contribution to research assessment for researchers' institutions and
funders -- -- but it is also
indispensable for filtering and sign-posting the literature for its users.

> Another purpose of scholarly communication which should not be
> overlooked is the exchange and diffusion of knowledge.

Indeed. But with so much "knowledge" being exchanged, we need rather more
to go by than a URL! And consulting departmental colleagues or writing to
ask qualified peers' opinion in each case is not a realistic option.

Stevan Harnad
Received on Thu Sep 05 2002 - 18:22:08 BST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:46:38 GMT