Re: Jan Velterop's Misconception

From: Velterop, Jan, Springer UK <Jan.Velterop_at_SPRINGER.COM>
Date: Thu, 1 Mar 2007 12:47:46 +0100

My "contempt for the scientist as author and communicator"? Where does
that come from?

I do not have the least contempt for scientists as writers and
communicators. Far from it. You may have noticed that I used the word
'worthless' in inverted commas. Informal research papers are far from
worthless in my opinion. But scientific culture insists on formally
published research papers for things like priority, tenure, funding,
recognition of researchers and recognition of the scientific record (at
least in many disciplines, and there may well be exceptions, where
formal journals are indeed not necessary). If they are not formally
published, they simply don't count. So informal publications are not at
all worthless per se; but they are pretty 'worthless' in the context of
career advancement in science. Publishers *provide* the processes for
formalisation; they don't *impose* them.

I rarely publish in formal journals. Do I think my writings are
therefore worthless? They may be, but I don't think they are. It's just
that I'm fortunate enough not to need to have a list of formal
publications to my CV in order to earn the approbation of my colleagues.

There are virtually no barriers to entry for would-be publishers. Even
less so for the minimalist 'administrators' of the publishing process
that you suggest. Why is it then that such an approach hasn't taken over
the position of the existing publishers like a storm?

The prevailing scientific culture, world-wide, is extremely conscious
of, and sensitive to, 'brand identities' of journals. Isn't that at the
heart of the matter?

Jan Velterop

> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Scientist Open Access Forum
I.ORG] On Behalf Of Andrew A. Adams
> Sent: 01 March 2007 05:26
> Subject: Jan Velterop's Misconception
> 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 reports;
> - 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 purposes.
> 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********* 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 - 13:40:45 GMT

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