RE: Provostial Publishing: a return to circa 1920

From: Sandy Thatcher <>
Date: Thu, 5 Jun 2008 19:57:52 EDT

There is much that I would like to debate with you, Stevan, in
your reply to my post, e.g., the role that usage statistics and
quantified metrics in general should play in assessing the
importance and value of scholarship (much overrated, in my
opinion), but I'll just focus here on this one assertion you made
(and, by the way, I was not talking mainly about books in my
post, as you seem to assume):

At 5:56 PM -0400 6/3/08, Stevan Harnad wrote:

>(2) Refereed journal articles undergo minimal copy-editing in
>any case (unlike [some] books).

On what basis do you make this claim? Have you surveyed journals
to find out how much copyediting they do? Are you basing this on
your own personal experience with copyediting done by the
journals to which you have submitted your own work primarily?

I, of course, cannot claim sufficiently wide knowledge to make
sweeping generalizations about the degree and level of
copyediting done for journals compared with books at all
publishing houses. But as director of a press that publishes 11
journals in the humanities, and a past employee of another press
that published three (including one in mathematics), I can attest
that the copyediting done for these journals is at the same level
as done for books, which in university presses is pretty high. I
suspect that other university presses operate in this respect the
same way we do--which would mean that at least 1,000 scholarly
journals get far more than "minimal copy-editing."

I can also attest, from my own years of experience as a
copyeditor, that the job does not just involve polishing prose
and improving grammar. Not uncommonly, copyeditors will find and
correct egregious factual and other errors, thus sparing the
authors from considerable embarrassment. Without their "value
added" services, much will get published in Green OA form that
will NOT serve either the authors' peers or the general public

Hence, I conclude, Harvard and others that follow its example and
are content to publish less than the final archival version will
be opening themselves to the exposure of all the flaws of
scholarly writing that now get hidden from public view by the
repair work done by copyeditors. Caveat lector!

Sanford G. Thatcher, Director
Penn State University Press
University Park, PA 16802-1003
Received on Fri Jun 06 2008 - 03:10:36 BST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:49:20 GMT