Peter Krautzberger at Mathblogging provides a timeline of the recent flurry of blog entries on the issue of publication. Looks like my proposal of stacking a StackExchange clone on top of Arxiv is exactly the proposition Tim Gowers made ten days earlier. I had not read Tim's entry until yesterday. Looking at the feedback on his blog and to a lesser extent here, the proposal has hit a resonance, and not just in the mathematics community. The new aspect with the applied math/engineering community is this idea that reproducible research is by default enforced in this type of system. A no small feat. Here are the main points of Tim's proposal:
After that discussion, let me collect together what I see as the main features of this hypothetical paper-evaluation site.
- You post your papers on the arXiv and create pages for them on the site.
- People can respond to your papers. Responses can range from smallish comments to detailed descriptions and evaluations (the latter being quite similar to referees’ reports as they are now).
- Responses can be written under your own name or under a pseudonym.
- You can accrue reputation as a result of responses of either kind, but your pseudonym will have the reputation disguised enough to maintain your anonymity.
- Negative language is strongly discouraged. If a paper is uninteresting, it simply doesn’t attract much interest. If it is incorrect, one says so politely.
- There is a reputation premium for evaluating papers that have spent a long time not evaluated. (There would be a way of finding these: for instance, you could list all the unreviewed papers in a certain area or subarea in chronological order.)
- If you are not registered for the site, or if you are registered but had very few reputation points, then people know that you are not doing your bit for the mathematical community when it comes to the important task of evaluating the output of others. Conversely, if you have a high reputation, then people know that you are pulling your weight.
I think there is something also to be said about the versioning of papers.
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