Re: For Sandy Thatcher: A Sample of Copy-Editing

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Wed, 25 Aug 2010 18:03:59 EDT

On Tue, Aug 24, 2010 at 6:01 PM, Sandy Thatcher

<> wrote:

> Granting Stevan's hypothesis for the moment, let me ask this
> further question: how does posting a paper as poorly written as
> this enhance a university's reputation, which has been touted
> as one of the advantages to accrue from Green OA?

Green OA -- which is simply making all peer-reviewed journal
articles freely accessible online -- has absolutely nothing to do
with declining or rising standards in copy-editing (or peer
review, or scientific/scholarly research, or anything else).

All Green OA does is make refereed research -- such as it is --
accessible to all users, not just those whose institutions can
afford to the journal in which they were published.

Copy-editing standards were declining steadily throughout the
quarter-century I was editing Behavior and Brain Sciences. The
decline had nothing to do with OA (which only began happening
toward the end of my tenure, and in succeeding years, and still
hasn't even reached 20% today!).

(One must not blame every outcome one may not like on causes one
may not like...)

Stevan Harnad

> At 5:54 PM -0400 8/23/10, Stevan Harnad wrote:
>>(1) I care about the quality of published English (or any
>>language) as much as does Sandy Thatcher, who copy edited for
>>years for Princeton University Press: I edited for years for
>>Cambridge University Press.
>>(2) Hence I find the example below as appalling as Sandy no
>>doubt will.
>>(3) But I think I am more realistic than Sandy on two scores:
>>(3a) the appallingly low level of journal article copy-editing
>>today and (even more important) (3b) the fact that the low
>>quality of journal article writing does not matter to the
>>progress of scientific and scholarly progress anywhere near as
>>much the low level of access to journal articles.
>>So read the abstract below, and ask yourself whether, despite
>>the affront to your sense of grammar, style and standards, there
>>was anything of substance you missed, despite the faulty form.
>>And consider that those potential users who are at an
>>institution without a subscription to this journal would not
>>have access to the substance of the underlying full-text at all.
>>(This is without prejudice about the content of this article's
>>full-text -- about yet another unvalidated, a-priori metric
>>algorithm -- which I have not read!)
>>This paper introduces a new impact indicator for the research
>>effort of a university, nh3. The number of documents or the
>>number of citations obtained by an institution are used
>>frequently in international ranking of institutions. However,
>>these are very dependent on the size and this is inducing
>>mergers with the apparent sole goal of improving the research
>>ranking. The alternative is to use the ratio of the two
>>measures, the mean citation rate, that is size independent but
>>it has been shown to fluctuate along the time as a consequence
>>of its dependence on a very small number of documents with an
>>extremely good citation performance. In the last few years, the
>>popularity of the Hirsch index as an indicator of the research
>>performance of individual researchers led to its application to
>>journals and institutions.
>>However, the original aim of this h index of giving a mixed
>>measure of the number of documents published and their impact as
>>measured by the citations collected along the time is totally
>>undesirable for institutions as the overall size may be
>>considered irrelevant for the impact evaluation of research.
>>Furthermore, the h index when applied to institutions tends to
>>retain a very small number of documents making all other
>>research production irrelevant for this indicator. The nh3 index
>>proposed here is designed to measure solely the impact of
>>research in a way that is independent of the size of the
>>institution and is made relatively stable by making a 20-year
>>estimate of the citations of the documents produced in a single
>>Copyright 2010 Published by Elsevier B.V.
Received on Wed Aug 25 2010 - 23:27:03 BST

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