Competition In Publishing

J.M. Campanario has proposed (Letters, The Scientist, May 12, 1997, page 9) establishment of a "metajournal" to support a system of "journal scouting" as a means of salvaging unappreciated papers and of alleviating the author's burden in attempting publication. The aims appear laudable, but the proposed means are very suspect. Such a system would entrench middlemen and emphasize the relative impotence of authors; whereas reliable communication normally necessitates direction by the author. (Ima

Malcolm Atkinson
Sep 14, 1997

J.M. Campanario has proposed (Letters, The Scientist, May 12, 1997, page 9) establishment of a "metajournal" to support a system of "journal scouting" as a means of salvaging unappreciated papers and of alleviating the author's burden in attempting publication. The aims appear laudable, but the proposed means are very suspect. Such a system would entrench middlemen and emphasize the relative impotence of authors; whereas reliable communication normally necessitates direction by the author. (Imagine having to submit business letters to an office of business affairs for redirection according to a clerk's whim!)

It has been argued earlier (M. Atkinson, "Regulation of science by 'peer review,'" Studies in History & Philosophy of Science, 25:147-58, 1994) that human behavior, rather than the functional essence of a publishing system that generally serves quite well, is the deep-seated major source of widely acknowledged failings in science communication such as Campanario...

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