[Air-l] Open access publishing (was a modest proposal)

Dr. W. Reid Cornwell wrc at tcfir.org
Tue Sep 12 00:01:57 PDT 2006


You are correct. I mistakenly assumed a pilot project at NIH had more
general application. I apologize for the declarative statement reflecting my

However, I believe Senate Bill 2695 very close to coming out of committee
and has broadly based academic support. A similar bill is afoot in the

The peer review process was developed in an age in which information could
not be broadcasted easily and opinions could not be gathered quickly. I
assert that thoughts of a bogus nature would be quickly discredited when
exposed to a vastly broader audience.

Just as my inadvertent error was quickly identified.

Actually, the original Google algorithms produced a result that was vetted
by "the most frequently used" or "connected to." This could be analogous to
a more broadly based peer review. Of course pay per click changes that.

Google's scholar.google.com Beta attempts to open an access to vastly more
research information but its effectiveness is limited by intellectual
property constraints.

Keep in mind there are very few restraints on what goes into the Library of
Congress. If you are willing to me their standards for shelving your
publication it is possible to get them to retain it. TLC is moving towards
digitizing their collection. The card catalogue is already there.

There's a lot of junk on the Internet, for sure. There is a lot of junk in
the Library of Congress. It up to the individual researcher to determine
what is junk and what is treasure.

If it is true that Peer Review is about social control and exclusion as you
assert, then it is dead wrong and should be abandoned. It may surprise you
that I believe it was original established as a quality control method that
quickly morphed to social control and exclusion.

Believe me there are not so many people writing on the behavior of neutrinos
that all of the literature could be reviewed by all of the physicists. Now
that's peer review.

Again my apology,


-----Original Message-----
From: air-l-bounces at listserv.aoir.org
[mailto:air-l-bounces at listserv.aoir.org] On Behalf Of Alex Halavais
Sent: Monday, September 11, 2006 2:10 PM
To: air-l at listserv.aoir.org; wrc at tcfir.org
Subject: Re: [Air-l] Open access publishing (was a modest proposal)

On 9/11/06, Dr. W. Reid Cornwell <wrc at tcfir.org> wrote:
> Open access with regards to publicly funded research is the "Law." It
> includes "all" agencies that fund research including the
> labs like Sandia etc. (excluding those that are covered under official
> security restraints)

Sorry, but that's simply not the case in the US, at least. I think you
are thinking of 17 USC 105, which opens up documents produced by the
federal government. Among a host of other exceptions, when the federal
government contracts with private individuals or companies, the work
may be copyrighted, and usually is.

> This law preserves the peer reviewing process. I personally am in favor of
> scrapping peer review in favor an intellectual community rating system.

That's a good definition of peer review. Perhaps you are suggesting a
different way of doing peer review. There are lots of ways to provide
for such checking.

> Peer
> review has been used for too long as a mechanism of social control and
> exclusion.

That's its central function. And I don't think anyone can argue that
the internet means we have LESS need of filters. On the contrary, now
more than ever we need ways of verifying the work of others. Google is
also a mechanism of social control and exclusion. That's why we use

> I frequently think of Einstein and his travails at recognition until he
> a socially accepted champion.

That Einstein didn't happen to like peer review doesn't change its
relative effectiveness. (Indeed, there have been arguments that he
would have made progress more quickly had he more often engaged
critical reviewers comments.) At the same time, the ramblings tens of
thousands of ill-informed random quacks were filtered out. No one
claims that peer review is perfect; on the contrary, I think most
recognize it is broken in important respects. But it serves a vital
function, and until other social processes can improve on these
functions, it will continue to be employed.

Unfortunately, I suspect that one of the reasons open access has been
retarded so often is that many equate open access with scrapping the
social technologies (like peer review) that tend to work pretty well.

Note that this doesn't preclude efforts to make peer review better,
and I applaud efforts like Nature's to experiment with open review
(http://blogs.nature.com/nature/peerreview/trial/). And I think that
Wikipedia provides a model of how open peer-review can do pretty OK,
most of the time. Though Wikipedians are the first to note that it
needs to be done better. More on that shortly :).

- Alex

// This email is
// [ ] assumed public and may be blogged / forwarded.
// [X] assumed to be private, please ask before redistributing.
// Alexander C. Halavais
// Social Architect
// http://alex.halavais.net
The air-l at listserv.aoir.org mailing list
is provided by the Association of Internet Researchers http://aoir.org
Subscribe, change options or unsubscribe at:

Join the Association of Internet Researchers: 

More information about the Air-L mailing list