Re: problem of the Ginsparg Archive as self-archiving model

From: David Goodman <dgoodman_at_PHOENIX.PRINCETON.EDU>
Date: Sat, 2 Sep 2000 20:40:13 -0400

As I interpret the authors' argument it accepts the
viability of the model in
the high energy physics community, but argues that it is not
generally applicable because other scientific communities are not
equally disciplined or responsible.

As Steve wisely remarks, how can we tell unless we try?

As a librarian, I have been an observer of academics in a number of
different fields. The basic patterns of academic publication and
status seem to be
not that dissimilar all of the physical and biological sciences.
In all areas, one writes for the audience of ones's professional peers in
the general sense; one hopes to see one's ideas not only read by those who
one wants to read it, but accepted by them as important. One anticipates,
as a consequence, being considered for promotion, tenure and honors. One
knows that a reputation for having published--even in preliminary form--
erroneous, absurd, or poorly-written material will not bring this about.

I do not myself know if this is the case in academic areas other than the
sciences, but I suspect it is. As an admittedly personal example, but one
which Joe will hardly mind, he clearly took great care with his posting,
even though it was merely an informal communication in what is presumably
not his principal professional field.

There is an impression among many non-physicists that physicists
are brighter than those in their own field. (If physicists share this
among themselves, they have always been too polite to tell me so.)
Perhaps this is true; perhaps it is more a question of working styles and
multiple forms of intelligence. Even if it were true, why would this make
them more independent in judgment or more responsible?

I have indeed heard some very well respected molecular biologists say that
the Ginsparg model would not work for their area. But they usually say
that it would not work because of the competition--that they count on the
priority of having submitted a paper knowing it will be months before
anyone but the reviewers see it. Even if this is a valid objection, there
are clearly technical solutions. And aren't ones most likely reviewer's
also one's most likely competitors? (I know that taking advantage of this
is not supposed to be ethical....)

 David Goodman, Princeton University Biology
Library 609-258-3235
Received on Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:17:43 GMT

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