Re: "Overlay Journals" Over Again...

From: Joseph Esposito <>
Date: Wed, 1 Jul 2009 01:40:10 EDT

What Professor Harnad is proposing is very similar to the review
process that brought on the subprime mortgage crisis. Anyone who
lost retirement money or a job or is struggling with a mortgage
payment should read on.

The rating agencies (Fitch, Moody's, and Standard & Poor) are
approached by anyone who wishes to market a security. "Here are
some mortgages; would you rate them for us? We will pay your fee
for your appraisal." That is, the rating agencies are
compensated by the very organizations that have securities to be
evaluated. This tends to result in securities getting better
ratings than they deserve--a systemic flaw. Many of the loans
that have gone unpaid were rated AAA by the agencies.

Now we have a proposal that authors pay to get their material
evaluated. The potential for abuse is tremendous. And it is
risky by design, not because of the poor character of the

This is not an argument against open access; like Professor
Harnad I believe that "author-pays" publishing is going to play a
large role (though I think it will be only one form of business
model for research literature). The problem is what the author
is paying for. It is systemically corrupt for authors to pay for
peer review. I would prefer to see them pay for online hosting
and various tools that make the literature more useful. And one
of those tools would be a commenting and annotation feature that
would serve as a form of review.

List members may recognize in this description some of the
elements of community-based online social media. Cognitive
scientists make up a community (or several) just as do the fans
of the Grateful Dead or Radiohead. The open access movement
simply has not caught up with the Internet.

Joe Esposito

On Mon, Jun 29, 2009 at 8:35 PM, Stevan Harnad

> The "overlay journal" notion is and always has been an inchoate,
> incoherent idea. Physicists thought that since they were happy
> just using the Arxiv version of preprints and postprints, the
> "journals" could be phased out, and the peer-review could be
> "overlaid" on Arxiv.

> Stevan Harnad
> PS Please don't even get me started on "disaggregated
> journals"...
Received on Wed Jul 01 2009 - 07:29:33 BST

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