Saturday, January 07, 2012

You think peer review as currently implemented suck ? Wait till it is going to be the only way to publish

Aside from the egregious case of a monopoly grab that is currently underway through the proposed new   "Research Works Act" bill (see the Scientific American blog here and Jonathan Eisen's post about a highly disturbing letter from the Ecological Society of America, or Michael Eisen responding to Elsevier's comments ), I find it interesting to read the following (emphasis added):

      (3) PRIVATE-SECTOR RESEARCH WORK- The term `private-sector research work' means an article intended to be published in a scholarly or scientific publication, or any version of such an article, that is not a work of the United States Government (as defined in section 101 of title 17, United States Code), describing or interpreting research funded in whole or in part by a Federal agency and to which a commercial or nonprofit publisher has made or has entered into an arrangement to make a value-added contribution, including peer review or editing. Such term does not include progress reports or raw data outputs routinely required to be created for and submitted directly to a funding agency in the course of research.
So the value added by a commercial or non-profit publisher is peer-review ? It certainly is not, unless you are on K-street. Nobody seems to say it aloud, so let me be clear on that: the only thing a commercial or non-profit publisher does is brand an article based on free external advice

Do you really think that a post peer-review publishing model (see The wrath of our discontent and Tim Gowers' Model of Mathematical Publishing ) could ever take off and provide a different way of evaluating Science if the current monopolies and gatekeepers can pass a bill like this ? In the affirmative, wait till you see the next one.

[Update: if you think publishers are not in the branding business, here is another proof: Tee-shirts ]

Liked this entry ? subscribe to Nuit Blanche's feed, there's more where that came from. You can also subscribe to Nuit Blanche by Email, explore the Big Picture in Compressive Sensing or the Matrix Factorization Jungle and join the conversations on compressive sensing, advanced matrix factorization and calibration issues on Linkedin.

No comments: