Re: Jan Velterop's Misconception

From: Pippa Smart <pippa.smart_at_GOOGLEMAIL.COM>
Date: Thu, 1 Mar 2007 11:57:39 +0000

I endorse the viewpoint below, and hope that Jan simply mis-communicated
his opinion on the value of author's works before a publisher gets their
hands on them.
However, it raises an important question of what service the publisher
brings to academic communication.
In previous lives I worked for several UK publishers, and more recently
have been working in Africa and SE Asia with journal "publishers"
there. Many  of the journals in the developing world do not have
publishers (as we would recognise them), but rely on the editor and the
parent association to support the editorial and distribution systems.
One of the conclusions that I have reached from my own experiences is
that within many (?most) self-published journals there is simply no-one
with the time/knowledge to investigate and implement many of the
communication developments that we take for granted (and are largely
unaware of) - and that publishers play a vital role within the
communication chain.
As examples of what service publishers bring to the process of
communication (in no order of priority)
1 - online linking - developing services such as crossref, email ToC
alerts, etc.
2 - building partnerships between journals and associations (e.g.
brokering links between "this" society membership with "that" society's
journal, combining titles to provide greater content aggregation for
readers and authors, and developing/managing translated editions)
3 - initiating selective "cuts" of content to suit specific needs
(filtering information), for example BioMedCentral's "Faculty of 1000"
4 - surveying and responding to reader and author needs - e.g.
introducing (and supporting) easier submission/reviewing processes, and
developing new presentation models (e.g. paper summaries)
I guess you could argue that in the next few years Google will take over
many of these roles (!) , however, I strongly believe that there is (and
will continue to be) a role for publishers, and that - as Jan states -
they need financing to manage these "backroom" developments, so the
problem is how to ensure continued financing, whilst continued growth in
access rights is negotiated.
Pippa Smart
Research Communication and Publishing Consultant
<+44 1865 864255>
Skype: pippasmart

On 01/03/07, Andrew A. Adams <> wrote:
      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

      And here we see Jan's contempt for the scientist as author an
      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
      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
      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
      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* ********  Dr Andrew A Adams
      **snail*27 Westerham Walk**********  School of Systems
      ***mail*Reading RG2 0BA, UK********  The University of
      ****Tel*+44-118-378-6997***********  Reading, United Kingdom

Received on Thu Mar 01 2007 - 13:18:58 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:48:48 GMT