Jan Velterop's Misconception

From: Andrew A. Adams <A.A.Adams_at_READING.AC.UK>
Date: Thu, 1 Mar 2007 14:25:30 +0900

Jan Verlterop wrote:
>What publishers have provided has always been a 'service'. The service
>consisted - and still consists - of arranging all that's necessary to make
>a scientifically non-recognised piece of work (pretty much 'worthless' for
>the scientific establishment), into a scientifically recognised addition
>to the knowledge pool (a valuable piece of work, identifiable as such by
>the fact that it is formally published in a peer-reviewed journal).

And here we see Jan's contempt for the scientist as author an communicator.
Scientific writing, unless turned into a worhwhile product by the work of a
publisher is worthless, according to Jan.

I refer Jan to:

- The discussions on many usenet news groups such as math.sci.symbolic where
detailed discussions of everything to do with comptuer algebra and related
systems are discussed, from interchange formats to the fundamental "meaning"
of mathematical symbols in computation;
- The ArXiv, with its range of peer reviewed and non peer reviewed content;
- The Workshop or Conference (terminology differs between subjects) where
non-peer reviewed or very lightly peer reviewed work (particularly
work-in-progress) is presented for discussion and debate amongst the
scientific community and papers are published online or in institutional tech
- Fully Peer Reviewed conference proceedings in Computer Science where the
peer review process is managed entirely by the conference committee and the
publisher's input is solely in the production of physical copies - not such a
difficult job for the LNCS series by Springer, where the submissions are in
LaTeX form to start with - the initial investment of producing the latex
style file has long ago been recouped and was pretty small to start with;
- The reports submitted to the EU on European grants.

There are many other examples of scientific communication that shows the
skill and utility of scientists and their communications.

The culmination of these communications is the peer-reviewed paper. The
reviewing of which is performed by other scientist, who in most fields are
not paid staff members of the publisher, nor even have their time funded by
the publisher, but who are members of the community of scientists (one might
even say scholars) around the world who recognise that for the system of
peer-reviewed communication to work they must co-operate and not defect from
the peer-review system.

The publisher provided three things in the past:

- The administration of receipt of manuscripts (sometimes including
allocation of manuscripts to referees, sometimes not);
- type-setting and presentation expertise;
- physical production and distribution.

Type-setting is now done principally by the authors with a small input (in my
experience) by the paid staff at the publisher.

Physical production and distribution is no longer the only way to achieve
distribution and in many ways is a poorer method than newer ways, for most

We are left with the administrative role. This, and only this, is what is
necessary for the peer-review process to be maintained. Yes, we must find as
a community of scholars, a way of ensuring that this administration
continues. However, to claim that this administration is the major labour in
producing a strong scientific publishing community is arrogant beyond belief
to the working scholar.

*E-mail*a.a.adams_at_rdg.ac.uk********  Dr Andrew A Adams
**snail*27 Westerham Walk**********  School of Systems Engineering
***mail*Reading RG2 0BA, UK********  The University of Reading
****Tel*+44-118-378-6997***********  Reading, United Kingdom
Received on Thu Mar 01 2007 - 11:34:41 GMT

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