Re: wikipedia, open access and publishing

From: Jakes Rawlinson <brajakes_at_GMAIL.COM>
Date: Mon, 17 May 2010 11:51:08 +0200

I came across this publication on Peer Review produced by the Research
Information Network. I post this as you asked for an algorithm, which is set out
in this short brief.
The guide is available at

On 17 May 2010 09:28, Jean Kempf <> wrote:
      The debate about wikipedia and the definition of Open Access seems
      to me both scholastic and revealing of the view we have that the
      "electronic" world would be in any fundamental way different from
      the paper world. Certain actions (distribution/access) may be easier
      there but the same fundamental intellectual issues apply.

- Semantic debate first. The French langage makes a nice distinction
between "publication" and "édition". "Publier" is to make something
public, whatever the means (including self-publication as poets, aspiring
politicians and other sects do). Doing "Edition" is, as in English,
publishing + EDITING (meaning choosing, cutting, etc.). The only problem
is that the French langage, which does have two verbs, only has one noun
for "publisher" which is "éditeur". This is because in the paper world
authors needed an "intermediary" (sometimes just a printer) to make their
work (manu-script) public (ie printed). They don't anymore, and so goes
the confusion.
- As to the bottom line: research (and education by the way as well, much
too often forgotten on this list!!!) need access (not impact which is a
purely technocratic concept) and reliability (or certification in
technocratic parlance).
      The debate in mail after mail on this list comes from the fact
      that "access" has a cost (either direct or indirect, shared by
      different groups or budgets) and that not everybody (here &
      elsewhere) agrees on who could/should pay and for whom. (For
      instance when a peer reviewed article from an expensive
      journal is made available, it's the rich universities paying
      for the poor ones. Marginally it might also be a way of
      breaking the back of big business.)

      The issue of reliablity/certification is much fuzzier as I
      believe there is a world of difference between disciplines,
      and especially between STM on the one hand and Humanities and
      most Social sciences on the other. A reliable physics,
      biochemistry article is very different from a reliable history
      or philosophy article as the construction of facts in each
      discipline is different, and the capacity of the reader
      himself to discriminate is different.

Hence the fight we are having on what OA applies to and which, to my mind,
makes us waste a lot of energy on matter which are not fundamental.
Stevan's advocacy for Green is perfectly compatible with that of others
for Gold, and not sequential.

Lastly, a point which I find important to a better understanding of what
we are talking about, even though it might be outside the focus of the
list. I recently had a long conversation with an engineering professor (he
is in semi-conductors, in one of the very good labs in Europe) and what he
told me about the way peer review is conducted in his very serious field
(there's after all a huge industry behind it) left me (as a historian)
totally aghast as to the perfunctoriness/speed of the process, the people
who did it (graduate students...), and by the general reliance on
"reputation" even in the very best (A) journals.

My question is simple then: can someone describe the peer review process
in one of the "hard" sciences, task by task (as an algorithm) in a
detailled way and by WHOM it is "normally" done.

Jean Kempf

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Received on Mon May 17 2010 - 19:38:18 BST

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