Re: PostGutenberg Peer Review

From: Stevan Harnad <amsciforum_at_GMAIL.COM>
Date: Sat, 15 May 2010 01:54:55 -0400

On Sat, May 15, 2010 at 12:22 AM, Sandy Thatcher <> wrote:

> In his long response to Joe Esposito, Stevan Harnad made only this
> one passing reference to copyediting as a service journal publishers
> perform -- "peer review (and possibly some copy-editing)"
> and, in the way he phrased it here, questioned whether indeed
> it is a needed service.

To what extent copy-editing remains a needed service will be decided
by authors once Green OA prevails, if and when that in turn makes
subscriptions unsustainable. To the extent that copy-editing remains a
needed service, it will be paid for alongside peer review (as I

> He seems to think that copyediting plays
> absolutely no role in determining a journal's reputation, and that so
> long as a journal is highly selective in what it accepts, it could
> publish shabbily written, error-filled articles without having its
> reputation affected in any significant way.

No, I think this is an empirical and pragmatic question, and we will
find out the answer if and when universal Green OA makes subscriptions
unsustainable, thereby inducing cost-cutting and downsizing to the

> I think he is dead wrong in making this assumption about journals.

I make no assumption (though I can hazard a guess).

> I wonder if he would say
> the same about book publishing, that authors do not care if one book
> publisher provides better copyediting, design, marketing, etc. than
> another so long as they are equal in terms of peer-review selectivity?

No I would not. And as I have said to Sandy many, many times before,
this is one of the many differences between book publishing and
journal article publishing. (But not the biggest difference: The
biggest difference is that most authors don't yet want to give away
their books for free online because, unlike all journal article
authors, they do not write their books exclusively for research usage
and impact.)

> My main disagreement with Stevan about the virtues of Green OA is
> that he thinks people can get along just fine with an inferior
> product.

If people cannot get along without copy-editing (just as they cannot
get along without peer review) Post-Green-OA, then copy-editing will
need to be paid for, just as peer review will need to be paid for.

(By the way, if Sandy is right about how much people need copy
editing, perhaps that means that universal Green OA will not make
subscriptions unsustainable after all, for the Green OA version is not
copy-edited, and institutions will just keep on subscribing to
journals because of this need for the copy-edited version...)

> If he is right about this, of course, then he must accept
> the consequence that libraries have no business paying extra for the
> "value added" beyond peer review that publishers supply and should
> discontinue their subscriptions to any journals whose contents are
> all available in Green OA form.

I have absolutely no view on that (though again I can hazard a guess).
Either universal Green OA will make institutional subscriptions
unsustainable or it won't.

If universal Green OA does make institutional subscriptions
unsustainable, then journals will downsize to the sustainable
essentials (including copy-editing, if that is among the essentials)
and charge for them on the Gold OA model (out of the windfall
subscription cancellation savings).

if universal Green OA does not make institutional subscriptions
unsustainable, then publishing and its costs and MO will stay pretty
much as they are now.

But, either way, we will have universal OA, at long last.

(See you in Denton TX Tuesday, Sandy, where we will no doubt be
thrashing this out further! )

Stevan Harnad

>>There will be no more new publishing services, apart from peer
>>review (and possibly some copy-editing), and no more new journals
>>either; 25,000 is probably enough already! And the cost per round
>>of refereeing should not prove more than about $200.
Received on Sat May 15 2010 - 06:55:28 BST

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