linking back to

My lab:

If you happen to come across this obscure blog, you're likely to already know that physicists communicate their scientific findings via a non-peer-reviewed pre-print database called arXiv. However, they still 'publish' these preprints in traditional academic specialty journals for the 'prestige'. Many on the non-physics side of the scientific community envy physicists for more than just not being the science smallgrin.png: they'd like to also be able to communicate quickly and get prestige later. After all, it's a step forward from mingling the two. Paleontologists feel that way, chemists and apparently biologists also. For a while, there even was a dedicated non-physics preprint archive operated by Nature Publishing Group, Nature Precedings, for just that purpose.

Isn't there anybody around who thinks this solution to the problem is completely bizarre? Why would anyone in their right mind publish something first, then publish it again at some undeterminable later time, when everybody already knows about it, only so that you afterwards have two different versions of the same work in two different places and the authors can display something on their CVs?

Isn't the following scenario much more rational?

Once you have your manuscript ready, you publish it in a world-wide, peer-reviewed database of primary research results, together with your data and your software. Those in your community will see your paper by virtue of keywords or social features in the database. If you think your paper has implications beyond your immediate field, you can amend it with a short, general summary that's being posted to a news feed where all such marked papers can be read by professional 'selectors' who do nothing all day but screen such submissions for 'the best' science (you already see where this is going, aren't you? grin.png). Maybe the companies employing these 'selectors' could be called "Science" or "Nature" or some such. These companies can then provide lists of 'hot' research to their subscribers and of course any 'selected' research will bring eminent prestige to the authors, especially if more than one such company selected it. There are a lot of advantages to publishing scholarly work this way, not the least of which is that each company can build a track record as to how often non-selected science turned out to be ground-breaking advances of general relevance and how often selected work had to be retracted. There would be actual competition between these services for subscribers and the services would have to show that they can predict what will be relevant and important science better than their competitors in real and scientifically testable numbers.

Now why don't we just switch to a system like this, I wonder?
Posted on Friday 16 November 2012 - 16:20:08 comment: 0

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