Sunday, September 20, 2009

The worst system, apart from all the others

Not democracy, but peer review, according to Sense About Science, via Nature.

The survey doesn't make clear how the authors were selected, which could make a difference if more prolific authors had a better chance of being picked. Or, indeed, if those who had suffered had actually left science and were unreachable. But still, there isn't much surprise there. Peer review works reasonably well on the whole, it can't always stop the misguided if they are determined enough but it can slow them down and on the whole I'm sure it improves the quality of the final papers, thus providing a benefit to the community. I have commented before that I like the idea of the EGU system where the review process is public but reviewers can remain anonymous. This is, however, only a tweak to the overall system.

IMO the more interesting debate in publishing relates more to the open access vs paywall question. For Climatic Change, I had the option of paying $3000 for my recent paper to be open access, so that's a benchmark for the value of the effort that authors, reviewers, and editors are donating to the profits of private businesses. (I know, the supporting editorial services are not completely free: the EGU manages it for about €25 per page.)


Hank Roberts said...

> $3000

Gad, there ought to be a declining fee over time, or the ability at least to redeem your paper after you have time to raise funds.

Consider putting up a tip jar along with an extended abstract?

James Annan said...

There's no way to pay later. However, I can (and have) put the whole paper up on my own web site!

Hank Roberts said...

Ah, that's good news.

And are you allowed to link from your website to the publisher for any later responses, or to "cited by" and "related papers" and the rest of the bait most publishers leave outside the paywalls?