Re: A Note of Caution About "Reforming the System"

From: Greg Kuperberg <>
Date: Tue, 19 Nov 2002 18:40:35 +0000

For the September Forum:

On Tue, Nov 19, 2002 at 01:13:59PM +0000, Stevan Harnad wrote:
> Greg feels that classical peer review is dysfunctional and unnecessary,
> and that the only reason all physicists and mathematicians, even
> those who self-archive their unrefereed preprints, continue to submit
> their papers to peer-reviewed journals (and often to self-archive the
> refereed version too) is for the sake of their university promotion/tenure
> committees, who are not qualified to evaluate their work for themselves.

That's overstating things a little. I think that peer review *is*
necessary but somewhat dysfunctional. I don't think that it's entirely
dysfunctional. I also don't think that external merit is the ONLY reason
that people send papers to journals, just the main reason. A Fields
Medalist with no need to butress his formal credentials summed it up best:
"I still submit my papers to journals, but I'm not sure why."

I estimate that about 1/3 of my own papers were thoroughly reviewed
by the referees. The rest were skimmed to varying degrees. A few were
just rubberstamped.

I think that with reform, 1/3 could be improved to 2/3. That would be
very valuable, but I won't promise the world.

  /\  Greg Kuperberg (UC Davis)
 /  \
 \  / Visit the Math ArXiv Front at
  \/  * All the math that's fit to e-print *
Received on Tue Nov 19 2002 - 18:40:35 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:46:42 GMT