For Sandy Thatcher: A Sample of Copy-Editing

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Mon, 23 Aug 2010 17:54:21 EDT


(1) I care about the quality of published English (or any=20
language) as much as does Sandy Thatcher, who copy edited for=20
years for Princeton University Press: I edited for years for=20
Cambridge University Press.

(2) Hence I find the example below as appalling as Sandy no doubt=20

(3) But I think I am more realistic than Sandy on two scores:=20
(3a) the appallingly low level of journal article copy-editing=20
today and (even more important) (3b) the fact that the low=20
quality of journal article writing does not matter to the=20
progress of scientific and scholarly progress anywhere near as=20
much the low level of access to journal articles.

So read the abstract below, and ask yourself whether, despite the=20
affront to your sense of grammar, style and standards, there was=20
anything of substance you missed, despite the faulty form.

And consider that those potential users who are at an institution=20
without a subscription to this journal would not have access to=20
the substance of the underlying full-text at all.

(This is without prejudice about the content of this article's=20
full-text -- about yet another unvalidated, a-priori metric=20
algorithm -- which I have not read!)



This paper introduces a new impact indicator for the research=20
effort of a university, nh3. The number of documents or the=20
number of citations obtained by an institution are used=20
frequently in international ranking of institutions. However,=20
these are very dependent on the size and this is inducing mergers=20
with the apparent sole goal of improving the research ranking.=20
The alternative is to use the ratio of the two measures, the mean=20
citation rate, that is size independent but it has been shown to=20
fluctuate along the time as a consequence of its dependence on a=20
very small number of documents with an extremely good citation=20
performance. In the last few years, the popularity of the Hirsch=20
index as an indicator of the research performance of individual=20
researchers led to its application to journals and institutions.

However, the original aim of this h index of giving a mixed=20
measure of the number of documents published and their impact as=20
measured by the citations collected along the time is totally=20
undesirable for institutions as the overall size may be=20
considered irrelevant for the impact evaluation of research.=20
Furthermore, the h index when applied to institutions tends to=20
retain a very small number of documents making all other research=20
production irrelevant for this indicator. The nh3 index proposed=20
here is designed to measure solely the impact of research in a=20
way that is independent of the size of the institution and is=20
made relatively stable by making a 20-year estimate of the=20
citations of the documents produced in a single year.

Copyright =A9 2010 Published by Elsevier B.V.
Received on Mon Aug 23 2010 - 23:19:40 BST

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