Re: Distinguishing the Essentials from the Optional Add-Ons

From: Lee Miller <>
Date: Thu, 8 May 2003 12:57:25 +0100

I can only claim 20 years of editing, but it left me with the conviction
that copy editing is essential, for correcting errors and for improving
clarity. So is proofing, if anything changes during copy-editing, but that
is nearly cost-free when it's done electronically. When you bundle those
procedures with paper and PDF, you are conflating essentials with

Lee Miller

At 03:32 AM 5/8/2003 Thursday +0100, you wrote:
> > From: [identity deleted]
> >
> > I hope you will add to your evolving consideration of the value
> > of peer-reviewed journals - editorial assessment, substantive
> > editing of text, tables, graphs and illustrations (and often their
> > recreation), copyediting, and proofreading. We have good evidence that
> > technical/substantive editing improves the quality of published papers
> > (see, for example, the article by Wager and Davidoff on the Peer Review
> > Congress Web site at In fact, this is better
> > than what we have to date for the effectiveness of peer review. Perhaps,
> > you include this in your $500 or $500+ valuation of peer review, but
> > peer review is distinct from these other quality assessment/"assurance"
> > processes. I think it is important that the contributions and value of
> > editing for most scientific papers are understood and appreciated.
>After 25 years of editing I can hardly be blind to the value of editing
>and copy-editing! But, as usual, the question is a relative one: Worth
>how much, and compared to what?
>Peer review is indispensable; without it all we have is vanity-press
>self-publication of raw drafts, with no clue as to whether they are worth
>the time to read or solid enough to risk trying to build upon. So peer
>review is indispensable. The burden of proof is *not* on those who hold
>that this is so. The null hypothesis is that the existing peer-reviewed
>literature owes its quality (such as it is) to peer review; it is those
>who would hypothesize otherwise who must demonstrate that this is *not* so.
> Peer Review Reform Hypothesis-Testing
> A Note of Caution About "Reforming the System"
> Self-Selected Vetting vs. Peer Review: Supplement or Substitute?
>A qualified, responsible editor is an essential component of the
>implementation and the cost of peer review. So that's part of the $500
>per paper estimate for the peer-review service cost.
>But the rest of the added values (including copy-editing, proofing
>etc.) will have to earn their own keep -- or rather their keeping. All
>researchers want their work peer-reviewed and certified as such, so
>potential users know they can rely on it. And researchers and their
>institutions will be ready to pay for that service, if and when that
>should ever become necessary. (It will only become necessary when its
>costs are no longer covered by annual institutional access-tolls, at
>which time the annual windfall savings in institutional access tolls
>will be more than enough to pay them.)
> 4.2 Hypothetical Sequel
>So how much *more* value researchers and their institutions will be
>willing to pay for, over and above peer review for their research output,
>is an empirical question, but one that can only be answered if and when
>the various added values are unbundled and offered as separate options. It
>is impossible to say as long as they are inextricably bundled with peer
>review, paper, and PDF, and sold as a take-it-or-leave-it product to the
>reader-institution, rather than as an optional service to the
> The True Cost of the Essentials (Implementing Peer Review)
> Distinguishing the Essentials from the Optional Add-Ons
>Self-archiving will certainly achieve its primary objective, which is to
>maximize research impact by putting an end to needless impact loss owing
>to access-tolls. It will also serve to unbundle some of the
>added-values, so we can get a clearer idea of what they are worth to
>researchers as separates.
>Stevan Harnad

Lee N. Miller

Editor Emeritus
Ecology and Ecological Monographs

Managing Editor Emeritus
Conservation Ecology (published
on-line only)

Ecological Society of America
218 Prospect Street
Ithaca, NY 14850 USA
phone: (607)255-3221 email:
Received on Thu May 08 2003 - 12:57:25 BST

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