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Scientific publishing should be beyond repute.
September 3, 2009 3:14 AM   Subscribe

How to Publish a Scientific Comment in 1 2 3 Easy Steps or not. Prof. Rick Trebino of the Georgia Institute of Physics vents about the Kafka-esque editorial guidelines of an unnamed academic journal's comments feature.
posted by munchbunch (64 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
Nitpick: by Georgia Institute of Physics, you mean the School of Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology (the latter of which which I currently attend).
posted by ctab at 3:19 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


God, what a nightmare.

I would simply put up my full length rebuttal to the original paper on a blog. Including the dirty words.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:22 AM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Google is my friend, here's some more of the story: The saga of the journal comment
posted by krilli at 3:32 AM on September 3, 2009


Here is the comment that all the hullaballoo was about. It's an academic society pay-for comment – imagine that! You have to pay to read the comment.

I wonder if people, in general, would snag the PDF if they had access to it and perhaps upload the PDF somewhere to a free hosting site. And if they'd let us know about it.
posted by krilli at 3:40 AM on September 3, 2009


Here is the longer version of the comment, on Trebino's website [PDF].
posted by lenny70 at 3:45 AM on September 3, 2009


Wow 5 comments in and I know see my post could have been much better.
posted by munchbunch at 3:57 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Munchbunch, for your crimes, you can expect a scathing Comment!
posted by krilli at 3:58 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


The graphs in the first page of that pdf make a scary face.
posted by Saddo at 4:05 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Munchbunch, for your crimes, you can expect a scathing Comment!

Your scathing comment is 1.00 words too long. Please shorten this scathing comment by 1.00 words in order for me to respond to it.

Some days I'm awfully glad I'm just a relatively well-paid blue-collar worker who in no way shape or form has to ever interact with academia. Not to slight those in academia doing good work -- I just don't think I'd want to be in your shoes.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:27 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


It was an interesting story, but if he doesn't get it down to under 1.0 pages, Cortex will be summoned to remove it.
posted by twine42 at 4:28 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Damn you Devils Rancher... Damn you all!
posted by twine42 at 4:30 AM on September 3, 2009


The correct response forum for major corrections to published articles is other published articles plus maybe emailing scientific bloger friends, not some publisher's arcane new feature.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:31 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Am I correct in naively and hopefully assuming that the public, free-access journals are not as encumbered with difficulty?
posted by DU at 4:35 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Honestly. That scenario is so ridiculous I can't even think of what to say.
Indeed, I think this chronology of exasperation raises some questions about just what interests journal editors are actually working towards, and about how as a result journals may be failing to play the role that the scientific community has expected them to play.

If the journals aren't playing this role, the scientific community may well need to find another way to get the job done.
Yes. That.
posted by scrutiny at 5:06 AM on September 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


If the journals aren't playing this role, the scientific community may well need to find another way to get the job done.

Public option.

For-profit apologists constantly tell us that the business of business is business, not ethics or the public good. Fine, then confine yourselves to Hello Kitty pens, gold-plated ass warmers and other non-necessities. Leave the important, public-good stuff to people who care about it itself, not about the profit to be made from it.
posted by DU at 5:21 AM on September 3, 2009 [7 favorites]


I had a comment to a comment to a comment to a paper accepted (subject to revision) today. I'm good buddies with the guy whos work I'm tearing apart. We plan to go on like this for as long as the journal lets us.
posted by Jimbob at 5:22 AM on September 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Am I correct in naively and hopefully assuming that the public, free-access journals are not as encumbered with difficulty?


In my experience - yes.
posted by outlier at 5:32 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


So the journal was Optics Letters? That will be useful for someone to know.

86. Learn from one of your grad students that a potential employer asked her, “Hasn’t your work recently been discredited?”

87. Learn that she was not granted an interview.


Just horrible.
posted by mediareport at 5:46 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


The joke was played out by comment forty something. Maybe it got better, but who has time?
posted by IndigoJones at 5:47 AM on September 3, 2009


The real tragedy in all of this is that Prof. Quixote apparently belongs to a discipline which doesn't have another, equally reputable journal that might publish a full rebuttal to the other paper in the form of an article.
posted by felix betachat at 5:48 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


So true.
posted by fatllama at 6:02 AM on September 3, 2009


Dude everyone knows SEA TADPOLE was kicks FROGs ass.

By the way, what on earth is this research even about? All I could tell was... that it involved frequencies of some sort?
posted by delmoi at 6:21 AM on September 3, 2009


Similar issues have happened in my field; journals have had biased, unprofessional editors. The key is to remember that there is more than one journal (and often ones with higher impact factors).
posted by bonehead at 6:22 AM on September 3, 2009


What a glorious read - thanks.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 6:26 AM on September 3, 2009


Oh apparently it has something to do with measuring pulses of light This article goes over some of the techniques.
posted by delmoi at 6:28 AM on September 3, 2009


(and often ones with higher impact factors)

I think this is part of the problem, actually.

Also, assuming it was hard science, I'm curious why the author didn't post his Comment to the arXiv.
posted by fatllama at 6:30 AM on September 3, 2009


So apparently Optics Letters is the highest IF journal in optics, but it shares first place with Optics Express, and in any case Physical Review Letters (which expressly has a rapid turnaround) is right behind both. I really don't see the problem here.
posted by bonehead at 6:39 AM on September 3, 2009


[This is good. And much needed for laughs in the library today.]
posted by sperose at 6:40 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Surprise! Scientists are human beings with egos and friends. And always have been.

The situation is actually better than ever, thanks to various means of communication now available. Some disciplines are better than others.

Comparing Journals and The Scientific Community to some blue sky full of 'should be' clauses does not reflect reality.
posted by zennie at 6:42 AM on September 3, 2009


Bonehead,
what the guy expected was to have the comment published. The journal paper-comment-reply system was presented to work a certain way.

After slogging through a very strange and kinda humiliating process, he discovers that ... it doesn't. That is the problem, IMO. One of them, at least.
posted by krilli at 6:45 AM on September 3, 2009


The joke was played out by comment forty something.

I'm sure the author would agree.
posted by mediareport at 6:47 AM on September 3, 2009 [7 favorites]


Comparing Journals and The Scientific Community to some blue sky full of 'should be' clauses does not reflect reality.

I don't understand what this means. Trebino is describing a process, and it's self-evident why the process sucks. Why is that not reflective of reality?
posted by brain_drain at 6:50 AM on September 3, 2009


what the guy expected was to have the comment published.

Yabut: the timeline the guy describes unfolds over 18 months to 2 years. At a certain point, one has to realize that it would just be easier to cut one's losses and publish a refutation in another journal. Arguably, this is why multiple journals exist, from a scientist's point of view.
posted by bonehead at 6:56 AM on September 3, 2009


he forgot the bit about looking at the squiggly words and trying to figure out what they say and typing that in the little box...

srsly tho...why isn't there an open-source place on the web for all the science papers? and by all i mean all...new stuff that people want to publish openly and all the old stuff in the public domain. like a wikipedia for papers from every field...does this exist?
posted by sexyrobot at 7:00 AM on September 3, 2009


At a certain point, one has to realize that it would just be easier to cut one's losses and publish a refutation in another journal.

Oh, you're just upset over #82.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 7:17 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


FWIW - the paper that prompted the comment (link) and the comment itself (link) (both behind subscriber walls, links from a comment in another discussion of the story).
posted by gspm at 7:20 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


The authors of an earlier paper [Opt. Lett.32, 3558 (2007)] reported two “ambiguities” in second-harmonic-generation frequency-resolved optical gating (FROG). One ambiguity is simply wrong--a miscalculation. The other is well known and easily avoided in simple well-known FROG variations. Finally, the authors' main conclusion--that autocorrelation can be more sensitive to pulse variations than FROG--is also wrong.

damn this is pretty much the science way of screaming FUCK YOU
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:22 AM on September 3, 2009 [9 favorites]


> Comparing Journals and The Scientific Community to some blue sky full of 'should be' clauses does not reflect reality.

I don't understand what this means. Trebino is describing a process, and it's self-evident why the process sucks. Why is that not reflective of reality?


That was more in response to the idea that the journals are lagging in their idealized duty to the scientific community, as well as the idea that the scientific community is somehow separate from journal editorial boards and reviewers.

The process did, indeed, suck for Trebino. However, if he'd done his homework to begin with, it need not have sucked as much. If you're going to refute someone's published work, you'd better have all your ducks in a row, because you're also refuting the credibility of the journal and everyone who reviewed the work in question.

Trebino needed to have taken a clue from the fact that only about a dozen comments have been published in the last decade in the journal in question. He needed to start out with the tables, graphs, diagrams, outside citations, recalculations, and straight-laced technical wording that he eventually got around to including. He need not have had his graduate student playing spy. He needed to have done his homework on who's who and communicated with them separately about this issue, prior to submitting his comment. And he needed to have somehow disguised the ginormous chip on his shoulder.
posted by zennie at 7:25 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why not just let authors make full length replies publicly available, without editing for length? In this day and age, it does not even have to be included in the print version (who reads that anyway!?), it can just be published electronically on the journal website. Nature, if I am not mistaken, does that under the moniker of "communications arising"

That is also the beauty of the preprint arXiv. Authors are free to submit any paper meeting some minimal requirements for one of the various categories on the arXiv. Sure, there is not peer review, but there is an "endorsement" system which at least allows for some level of verification of the authorship. It is a great way to post full versions of an article with lots of suplementary information (although suplementary information is also quite common in some major journals these days, such as Nature and Science).

Either way, one thing that can be said about the peer-review system is that it is broken. The question then is: how do we fix it? Some people are thinking pretty deeply about this.
posted by TheyCallItPeace at 7:28 AM on September 3, 2009


God what a nightmare -- and by nightmare, I mean trying to read that iPaper crap in a little window inside a webpage.
posted by orthogonality at 7:28 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


YOU SHOULD SUBMIT YOUR COMMENT WITH YOUR CAPS LOCKED!
posted by bukvich at 7:29 AM on September 3, 2009


With the internet at hand, a lot of academics are discovering that e-journals are not only generally quicker, kinder, and distributed instantly, but they're also free for anyone who wants to read them, which is not an insignificant problem for many academics.

For me, I am very enamored of The Electronic Journal of Combinatorics, which despite looking like a reject from 1997 is actually put together by a number of quite incredible people.

Incidentally, the correct way to think about scientific journals is that they're the Metafilter of the academic world: collecting interesting facts which are then debated and expanded upon. So that makes this list a MeTa callout.
posted by TypographicalError at 7:34 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


However, if he'd done his homework to begin with, it need not have sucked as much. If you're going to refute someone's published work, you'd better have all your ducks in a row, because you're also refuting the credibility of the journal and everyone who reviewed the work in question.

Trebino needed to have taken a clue from the fact that only about a dozen comments have been published in the last decade in the journal in question.



zennie,
I don't understand your drift.

The author DID do his homework (regarding the acceptable length of previously published "comments").
The suspicious paucity of said comments in the journal was a matter he noted unambiguously.
And his saga confirms the reason for the lack of comments.

Your scolding, that by refuting a paper's thesis: "you're also refuting the credibility of the journal and everyone who reviewed the work in question" makes you sound as if you're part of the very problem he describes!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 7:37 AM on September 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


Did this person not have a blog or access to the internet?
posted by empath at 7:49 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


All of those saying that he should have submitted his comment to another journal, to arXiv, or his blog are missing the point. Yes, those things would have been easier for him. But there is supposed to be an effective peer-reviewed conduit for technical replies. There are norms for the behavior of scientists and journals, and according to his story, these were broken repeatedly during this process. It is worth exposing this.

This little essay has been discussed a fair bit in scientific circles over the last few weeks. I've heard of this sort of thing from others who have tried to submit peer-reviewed comments, but this is a concrete and egregious example that is inspiring debate. Just yesterday, someone with a background as an editor for Nature bemoaned the publication of comments in scientists' blogs rather than through the established peer-reviewed processes. I pointed her to this article and she admitted that the process would have to improve. I hope it does.

Trebino has done a public service by sticking to his guns through this entire process and documenting it. He has contributed to the greater good not only in publishing his comment in a more visible, referreed venue than some blog posting, but also in starting a discussion on an oft-neglected area but essential of scientific publishing. He did the right thing, yet people are snarking at him because he didn't do the easy thing.
posted by grouse at 8:23 AM on September 3, 2009 [9 favorites]


He needed to have done his homework on who's who and communicated with them separately about this issue, prior to submitting his comment.

This is tantamount to saying that the first thing Trebino should have done was bypass the entire review process and work things out directly with the senior editor's boss.

You can't take this guy to task for being naive. He's highly accomplished in his field, and you don't get that far -- in this or any line of work -- without knowing how to navigate the politics.
posted by JohnFredra at 8:24 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


He needed to start out with the tables, graphs, diagrams, outside citations, recalculations, and straight-laced technical wording that he eventually got around to including.

He did do this -- it's number 15.
posted by creasy boy at 8:38 AM on September 3, 2009


All of those saying that he should have submitted his comment to another journal, to arXiv, or his blog are missing the point.

Actually, I agree with you more than I don't, but it's comments like denial of jobs to his students that give me concern for immediacy rather than being perfectly correct. There's nothing, after all to prevent him from doing both, publishing an article and making a technical comment.

Also, there's the old academic favourite: derisive scorn at the major conferences (it's an old saw that one gets more response at conferences than to papers because no one reads the literature any more).

Point is, remaining silent on the topic doesn't help him or his students, or the community at large. I see more value in correcting the problem in the literature than standing on principle. If the journal is that biased and horrible, it will quickly find submissions dropping off as word of this gets around anyway. Darwinism works for academic publishing.
posted by bonehead at 9:36 AM on September 3, 2009


There's nothing, after all to prevent him from doing both, publishing an article and making a technical comment.

It is considered unethical to submit the same material to multiple journals at once.

Also, there's the old academic favourite: derisive scorn at the major conferences (it's an old saw that one gets more response at conferences than to papers because no one reads the literature any more).

Maybe it works differently in physics, but after a result is published in biology it is no longer going to appear at major conferences.

If the journal is that biased and horrible, it will quickly find submissions dropping off as word of this gets around anyway. Darwinism works for academic publishing.

The journal appears to be biased in favor of backing up its authors. This will not discourage any authors from submitting to the journal. In the long run it will hurt the reputation of the journal, but it will take a while before this reduces people's submissions.
posted by grouse at 9:52 AM on September 3, 2009


I e-mailed Rick Trebino alerting him to this thread and asked me to post this comment for him:
Of course, in addition to publishing the Comment, I also did all the things that people have suggested that I should have done (I'm not an idiot!). My grad student and I gave talks on the subject; we published paragraphs in other papers in other journals when we could reasonably fit them in; we emailed and talked it up among other colleagues; and I placed the longer version of the Comment on my Georgia Tech web site and my company web site fairly quickly. However, in doing so, we risked having the Comment rejected as "not new." And the journal in question is the correct place for it; to not publish a Comment there or have it rejected is tantamount to accepting the incorrect result. And, unfortunately, other journals in the field don't accept Comments.

Also, the vast majority of scientific papers are mainly correct, and the few mistakes that do leak through aren't a problem, which could explain the paucity of Comments. The paper on which I commented was so egregiously and completely wrong that it clearly merited a Comment, and so it should've been very easy for the journal to realize this, especially when its chosen anonymous reviewer confirmed my team's results. That my story has propagated so far and is eliciting so much controversy seems to me to imply that we're apparently all a bit naive on the subject, and those who aren't should weigh in to help enlighten the rest of us.

And I also called and emailed several times the senior editor's boss, who is actually a friend of mine, but he claimed to have had limited ability to interfere (perhaps he was afraid that I might do something crazy like write an article on my experience with the Comment and put it on the internet...).

As I mentioned in the Addendum, a lot more transpired, but the story is long enough. Also, some of the additional stuff is even more disturbing, but the story seems to be disturbing enough as it is, so let's leave it at that.

Thank you, Jody Tresidder, grouse, and John Fredra, for your comments. You have it exactly right; the system is set up to publish Comments, and it really should be able to do so, so why does it have such a difficult time actually doing so?
posted by grouse at 9:55 AM on September 3, 2009 [9 favorites]


I e-mailed Rick Trebino alerting him to this thread and asked me to post this comment for him...

Wowsers, grouse!!

(that means 'brilliant'!)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 10:11 AM on September 3, 2009


fwiw, Googling for the authors of the paper the comment is all about brings up comments from other people trying to defend themselves from what they perceive as baseless or just plain incomprehensible accusations from the same source. Add to that the refusal to reply to inqueries, and a reply to the journal that wasn't suitable for printing... I'm glad I'm not doing research in that field.
posted by effbot at 10:12 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Grouse, I've reviewed his comment, and I'm afraid it doesn't meet the standards for metafilter submission. Please resubmit it with at least one youtube link.
posted by empath at 11:09 AM on September 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Looks like the reply to his comment was published as well, in the end.
posted by Upton O'Good at 12:06 PM on September 3, 2009


zennie,
I don't understand your drift.

The author DID do his homework (regarding the acceptable length of previously published "comments").
The suspicious paucity of said comments in the journal was a matter he noted unambiguously.
And his saga confirms the reason for the lack of comments.

Your scolding, that by refuting a paper's thesis: "you're also refuting the credibility of the journal and everyone who reviewed the work in question" makes you sound as if you're part of the very problem he describes!


I apologize for sounding curt earlier. Also, I apparently misread some of Trebino's account regarding when he included illustrations etc.

My drift is, you are more likely to end up tearing your hair out if you don't take human nature into account. That's not empty scolding, that's a fact; by pointing out huge errors, you're almost certainly denting the considerable egos of the people who thought the paper passed muster. An unfortunate facet of peer review. Another facet is that there are often relatively few people qualified to review very high level work, so the effective audience is very small and relatively repetitive. But that's also why the audience is often identifiable and can be specifically targeted.

Trebino did not do anything wrong. I am not saying that he's naive. I'm saying he seems to have done things by the book, the problem being that doing things by the book doesn't take human nature into account very well.
posted by zennie at 12:10 PM on September 3, 2009


I'm saying he seems to have done things by the book, the problem being that doing things by the book doesn't take human nature into account very well.

I'm still not on your wavelength here, zennie.

You seem to be addressing a point that lies outside the discussion, almost in another galaxy! Something like - How To Avoid Injuring The Feelings Of Your Colleagues In Science.

Doing 'things by the book' is intended to obviate those undeniable quirks of human nature that threaten objectivity and/or fairness.

(Like rampaging ego or random incompetence or laziness or professional spite or rumored behavior at the lab xmas party).

In fact, it was the journal who seemed to be following two books with contradictory rules - thereby subverting the system anyway!

Maybe I'm misreading you? It's just when you now (generously) allow that "Trebino did not do anything wrong" there's a suggestion that somewhere along the way, he missed doing something right?

And I can't figure out what that might be?
posted by Jody Tresidder at 1:02 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


..why isn't there an open-source place on the web for all the science papers?

oh, yeah, duh...arxiv. (although they seen to be lacking in any chemistry or medicine content) Is it just a matter of time until scientists start using "my paper was downloaded X number of times on arxiv" (a much better indicator of the number who've actually read it) rather than "I've been published"? Seems to me all the journals really do is: A) Kill Trees B) Block the flow of information, and C) Mishandle the work of science, because ultimately, they're publishers, not scientists. (even if they used to be) ...oh, and D) Brainwash people who are supposed to be objective with advertising (as was found to be true of doctors with the drug ads in medical journals...often prescribing drugs that they have not even read about)

Why is an entire step in the scientific method still being left in the hands of profit-driven publishers?
posted by sexyrobot at 1:56 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well the good news is that I had a quick look at the papers that cite the first incorrect paper (by Yellampalle et al.). As far as a quick look shows there are only six cites to the paper. One by the comment, one by the reply, one by the erratum and one by Yellampalle et al in another paper (so they are citing there own work).

Of the other two cites
The first says:
Occasionally, a new possible ambiguity is reported [16-the Yellampalle et al. paper ], but so far, all such reports have been found to be erroneous [17-the comment].

The second is a review paper published before the comment and says
Various studies on ambiguities for specific implementations of FROG can be found in [28,86–89]. where 86 is the Yellampalle, 87 is the erratum but 88 and 89 are two other paper's by Trebino

So it doesn't seem to have got many of the all important cites which is good to see.
posted by Lesium at 4:07 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I flagged this post as "other" with the expectation that the system here would then ask me "what?" but it's now just "Flagged". Mods, you should make the correction posted in the very first comment in this thread. I've lived in Georgia for 25 years and have two degrees from Georgia Tech and I'm telling you, there is no "Georgia Institute of Physics" :)

Or is this a meta-joke, riffing on Prof Trebino's awesome experience?
posted by intermod at 8:23 PM on September 3, 2009


sexyrobot,

I agree with you about the publishers. The papers they put out are probably slightly improved on average by the referee(s) [though delayed, sometimes for a long while], but of course the scientists do that for free. The real problem is that no one can keep up with the literature, even in a narrow area. The astrophysics part of the arXiv, astro-ph, has something like 70 papers a day in astrophysics. Of these, about 5-10 papers are relevant to my research. Reading these papers would take my whole work day. If you focus only on relevant papers in journals with low acceptance rates like Nature and Science, the number of papers you need to read becomes manageable. That approach works if the papers in the most selective journals are the most important ones, but what gets published there depends a lot on the fancies of their editors.
posted by lukemeister at 9:22 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm still not on your wavelength here, zennie.

Keep scanning, Jody.

My favorite part of this conversation is the way my commentary is being interpreted rather more negatively than I intend, and seemingly dismissed as incomprehensible static.

Deja vu.
posted by zennie at 10:15 PM on September 3, 2009


" Is it just a matter of time until scientists start using "my paper was downloaded X number of times on arxiv" (a much better indicator of the number who've actually read it) rather than "I've been published"?"
An incorrect paper stating something that if true would be highly significant would get many downloads. It's not such a great indicator. Citation indices are better, but also have flaws (they aren't exactly fast at showing the importance) and I believe people are working on better metrics. Publishing is still a very useful indication that something has been reviewed and likely contains no glaring errors, but this shows that it isn't always perfect. I also nearly published something completely wrong once, but caught my own error after the review process was nearly over, fortunately.
I think some sort of hybrid system might be better, where peer review is still important but systems like arXiv could have better links to responses to articles or something.
posted by edd at 6:03 AM on September 4, 2009


I'm still not on your wavelength here, zennie.

Keep scanning, Jody.

I'm trying, zennie, I'm trying!

But the paper I based my calculations on had all the wrong figures!!

(delivered with a grin)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 8:45 AM on September 4, 2009


Seems to me all the journals really do is: A) Kill Trees B) Block the flow of information, and C) Mishandle the work of science, because ultimately, they're publishers, not scientists. (even if they used to be) ...oh, and D) Brainwash people who are supposed to be objective with advertising

sexyrobot, journals and journal editors are part of the peer-review process. Editors are a third-party for choosing peers who can hopefully provide quality feedback, and the editors relay the reviews to the manuscript author. Journal editors' jobs are to read and process the feedback from the reviewers to see if reviewers are making unreasonable suggestions for new experiments beyond the scope of the study. If you want to do away with editors, then what? Should Scientist Dr. A just pick his/her own reviewers? If so, what prevents Dr A from taking the easy road and picking reviewers who agree with his/her views on a controversial theory?

As a former editor, I also take offense that you're characterizing journal staff as "mishandlers" of science because they are not active scientists themselves. A large portion of an editor's job is attending scientific meetings, going to talks, etc and trying to stay on top of the field, so that he/she does know the major players and current thinking on particular issues.

I'm not saying that the academic publishing world isn't flawed. In fact, I think I've previously posted a FPP on the flaws/mistakes the academic publishing world has made. And I've been on the side of the fence where, as a scientist, our lab has firsthand dealt with the bullshitty lag times between submission, review, and feedback. It's kind of ridiculous, considering how everyhting is done electronically these days.

But it's also flawed to paint journal staffers as money-grubbing information hoarders. Know that many editors *like* open-access, if it is financially feasible. The more open my journal's access, the more people can actually read what's being published/I'm working on! The key words are "financially feasible". There are definately some publishers (which I will not name in case they are still standing when my current position ends and I need a job later. hi.) which have created a screwed up system of permissions, rights, ownership, etc, and are making loads of money with their copyrights. And maybe the industry will collapse upon itself, when scientists/editors become fed up enough to start their own system. Time will tell. But until then, scientists, editors and publishers AND granting agencies AND research institutions are all perpetuating this scenario since we are all too reliant on the power of the impact factor as a metric for scientific importance and worthiness.
posted by NikitaNikita at 3:32 PM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


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