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

From: Jim Till <till_at_UHNRES.UTORONTO.CA>
Date: Thu, 12 Sep 2002 11:41:19 -0400

On Thu, 12 Sep 2002, Stevan Harnad wrote:

> Publishers are essential contributors to the implementation of peer
> review, but their art and skill does not lie in the making of the
> judgments. Those judgments are made by the peer-reviewers --
> researchers who give away their services for free, just as the authors
> are researchers who give away their research papers for free.

I have no disagreement about the major issues here, two of which could be
identified as: 1) that researchers supported by public funds should make
their research reports freely available; and, 2) that peer-reviewers and
editors do make crucial contributions to the research and scholarly

I have a minor quibble: the judgments about peer-review are (obviously!)
indeed made by the peer-reviewers. But, the judgments about how to deal
with the peer-reviewers' comments and criticisms (if any) are made by the
editorial staff of a journal. One can have the situation where the
peer-reviewers have only minor comments, but the editors may still delay
publication for long periods, or even reject a report, for a variety of
reasons. At their best, these editorial decisions make a very positive
contribution to quality control. At their worst, they become an
unacceptable form of censorship.

Unfortunately, it's sometimes very difficult (e.g. when dealing with
experimental results, or concepts, that subsequently lead to "paradigm
shifts") for readers as well as editors, to distinguish between desirable
quality control and unacceptable censorship. In the latter situation, the
self-archiving of preprints becomes a means to reduce the harmful effects
of such censorship. But (perhaps fortunately?!) such "paradigm shifts"
are quite rare.

Jim Till
University of Toronto
Received on Thu Sep 12 2002 - 16:41:19 BST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:46:39 GMT